Thursday, May 25, 2017

Getting too damn fancy for my own good

Like most people, I tend to think of myself as the hero of my own narrative. Most days, I try to at least behave well enough that I'm not embarrassed to be in that narrative. Today, for a short spell, I blew it.

On the drive up to the Balticon hotel, where I am now, we took the Ashland, Virginia exit to try to find a place for lunch. As we were looking for a tolerable fast-food restaurant, I spotted the Rise & Shine Diner. Always up for a diner, we pulled into the lot of its strip mall, parked, and got out.

The facade told me a lot about the place.

Click the image to see a larger version. 

The wall behind the cash register confirmed everything I thought.

So did the fact that Fox News was playing on the two TVs in the place.

Yes, I was in the heartland, Southern U.S. version, in a room full of Trump voters, and if that wasn't scary enough, I was wearing a rainbow "WE ARE ALL FIGHTERS" UFC special t-shirt and a pair of shorts.

On the way out, I even tweeted this: "Just ate a bologna burger in rural Virginia. Dining in Trump's America. Gotta admit it was mighty tasty."

I am a lover of good junk food, so I went for it and ordered the bologna burger with sides of macaroni salad and mac-and-cheese.

The bologna burger was everything it should be, with a thick slab of greasy, delicious bologna, and it tasted great. The macaroni salad was better than what I usually have. The mac-and-cheese was the weak link, okay but no more.

My tweet was snarky at best, with a nod to the food. My attitude mirrored my tweet.

Here's what my tweet didn't say.

Every single person in that place treated me with respect and kindness. A woman walking by even said my bologna burger looked like a fine one, and I had to admit it was. Everyone was polite. No one said a word about my shirt. If anyone thought poorly of me for it--and I have no evidence they did--no one said anything. Maybe our political beliefs differ, but maybe they don't; I assumed but did not ask. Regardless, they fed me, treated me well, and charged me half what this would have cost back home.

For many years growing up, we never ate out. We couldn't afford to. When we did, it was at places a lot worse than the Rise & Shine Diner.

I behaved well to the people there, I was polite, and I tipped well,  but in my quiet comments and my later tweet, I was a jerk, or as my mother would have said, too big for my britches, too damn fancy for my own good.

Maybe the folks at the diner could tell what I thought, and maybe they couldn't. Either way, they deserve better, and I need to be better. I need to remember that all of us are just people, and I need to give everyone a chance to earn whatever opinions I end up having. Judging with inadequate data is never a great choice.

For what it's worth, if you, too, like fried bologna sandwiches, you could do a lot worse than the one on offer at the Rise and Shine Diner.


old aggie said...

Mark, your tweet is actually a simple compliment. You're focusing on the attitude behind it, which is invisible to readers who don't know you/know of you. The tweet, in isolation, doesn't indicate political leanings. Imagine it through the eyes of one of the other custoners in the diner.

What I'm saying is that, somewhere down deep, the respectful attitude you're wanting to cultivate is influencing your actions and word choices, even when you don't know it. :-)

Stuff like you describe in your post happens all the time to all of us who watch for it, which is a great comfort against the "shrill, strident voices" the media assumes are the majority. We all need to share these stories, to increase the momentum behind hope!

Now I need to go buy some bologna...

Mark said...

Thanks for the kind words. More and more, I am trying to make sure I am a voice for inclusion and for open discussions, not another one of the many people simply yelling at the other side. We need to find ways to come together, not to focus on our differences.

Rosanne said...

you are a kind person. All someone has to do is read your blog to see that. Don't be too hard on yourself. Take care.

Mark said...

Thanks for the kind words.


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