Kathy Manos Penn with Lord Banjo
I always feel as though I'm taking my life in my hands when we drive to downtown Atlanta during rush hour, and I'm thankful it's not something I do often. My husband had a follow-up doctor's visit at Emory Midtown one morning, and the first bit of good news was we made it down there without mishap.
The next bright spot was a good report from his doctor, though we left with a list of other doctors he needs to see. A few of those appointments can be made out here at Pill Hill, closer to our home, so that was more good news.
As we started home, my husband suggested lunch at First Watch in Dunwoody. We arrived at noon and were seated right away. My husband spied a copy of the Wall Street Journal, and we glanced at it after we placed our orders.
We were dismayed to read the article about the Nike flag controversy and wondered aloud how the Betsy Ross flag dating to the Revolutionary War had been deemed offensive. We moved on to more pleasant topics like whether my husband would be walking or riding with his fellow VFW members in the July 4th parade and what to take to a cookout we were looking forward to on the evening of the Fourth.
That's when the roller coaster rolled rapidly downhill. A woman who'd been sitting two tables over from us stopped by our booth. She leaned down and said something to the effect that I should "put my racist feet in someone else's shoes and take a moment to feel some empathy for what others go through."
Needless to say, I was shocked. I asked, "Are you saying I'm a racist?"
When she responded "yes,"
I told her we'd been having a private conversation but that she was entitled to her opinion.
Her response was that she couldn't help but overhear us. By then, my husband was telling her to feel free to leave and before things could escalate further, I pretty calmly said let's just drop this, and she left. That exchange certainly made our lunch less than enjoyable, though the food and the service were excellent.
Back home, I found it hard to get that conversation out of my mind, but as I started work on my to-do list, the roller coaster easily moved uphill again. With a bit of online work, I was able to get two tickets for "Wicked" at the Fox, a show I've always wanted to see.
Next, I reserved the daily tours for the Rhine River Cruise we have planned for December, another happy task to check off my list. My husband and I'd had to cancel a June trip so it was nice to focus on plans for a holiday vacation.
I spent the rest of the afternoon writing, a daily activity I thoroughly enjoy. A productive afternoon followed by an ice-cold glass of Sauvignon Blanc and a homecooked meal ended my day on a high note.
Yet, that disturbing lunch incident keeps coming to mind. I realize we live in increasingly angry times. I just never expected to experience that anger personally, so I'm trying hard to convince myself the encounter was an aberration rather than the harbinger of a new norm. I'll continue to chat cheerfully with strangers in checkout lines, laughingly tell someone I overheard their conversation and can't help but agree, and maybe even go so far as to converse about the latest headlines while eating out, though admittedly, I'm now a bit gun shy.
Kathy is a Georgia resident. Find her books "The Ink Penn: Celebrating the Magic in the Everyday" and "Lord Banjo the Royal Pooch" on Amazon. Contact her at email@example.com, and follow her on Facebook, www.facebook.com/KathyManosPennAuthor/.