Woke up at 11:00.
I didn't do a whole lot today...definitely a lazy day. It was raining almost half of the day. I spent most of the day in the hotel...just kind of wasting time. I didn't do the laundry that I desperately need to do. Oh well...certainly not the first time.
But I did have a rather interesting/disturbing experience tonight.
Around 5 o'clock, I walked over to Golden Corral for supper. I was hungry, and I just felt like splurging tonight. So I did just that. I grabbed three plates and a couple of glasses of sweet tea. And I just sat there. I obviously didn't have anyone else to eat with, and I wasn't too keen on gettin' back to the hotel room I just left, so I just sat. Absolutely no worries, no concerns. Just me, my sweet tea, and people.
And I guess that was my problem.
Basically, sitting alone is kind of different. Especially in this particular set-up. Across my table was another table of two...but they were both on the same (and opposite) side of me at their table. So basically, every once in awhile, I would catch their eyes. Nothin' big. You just do the whole "Oh, hey, look, I just caught your eye randomly in public...Let me feign a 'Oh, hey, look, I just caught your eye randomly in public smile' and then move my eyes." It's really no big deal. But as it was, I had nobody in front of me or on the sides of me to block my views.
And admittedly, my eyes wandered. To the left, to the right. Outside, inside. Waitress, table next to me, table leaving, guy getting up, guy's food on the table next to me, oblivious space, oops caught your eyes, give that smile, outside, table, sweet tea. And on and on.
Well, every once and again, I would catch a woman's eye in the corner. Now normally, I would be excited to catch a woman's eye. But she certainly wasn't that type. To be honest, I still don't know what type she is. She looked rough...like she had had a hard life. But I won't lie...the entire restaurant looked pretty rough. Wherever I was all certainly wasn't well. It was just a rougher crowd. Oh well. It happens.
Well, (I am boggled even as I write this), one time I caught the woman's eye. Now she is two whole tables across from me at my 10 o'clock. And we have a table of two in between us (the woman was gone). Well, I caught her eye, and she just absolutely went off on me.
"YOU NEED TO STOP LOOKING OVER HERE!!! YOU BETTER STOP THAT RIGHT NOW OR I AM GOING TO COME OVER THERE!!! I DON'T KNOW WHO YOU ARE OR WHAT THE HELL YOU WANT, BUT YOU BETTER STOP LOOKING AT ME RIGHT NOW!!!"
My brain didn't even know how to function. I was absolutely and totally appalled...as I think were the people around me. She had just yelled across a couple of tables!!! And the guy's face that was in between us just contorted. He didn't have a clue what was going on, but he certainly didn't like it.
And then me. I never took my eyes off her as she went off. I never blinked. I never did anything. I stayed perfectly calm and still in my current position, hands on the chest, body slightly leaning back. I looked at her eye to eye and just took it all in. After she was through with her tirade, I simply looked at her for a few more seconds as if to say "Really"?, then turned my head forward.
But I could feel it. A surge of blood was flowing inside of me now. My heart was racing, my mind was searching for what to do, how to react, and I was admittedly confused, mad, sad, curious, and angry all at the same time. Oh, but how my heart was beating now!
But I just sat there. I checked out the people around me, and I continued my simple evening. Outside, waitress, food next to me, family on the right, cute girl with the ring on her finger, irate woman venting to silent friend, kids to the left, sweet tea, and, yes, woman in the corner. I won't lie. Part of it was out of spite, part of it was just incredibly natural. She was ALWAYS in my peripheral vision, and movement certainly attracts attention. And I will say even more so when you're by yourself. You simply watch what happens around you. Even now I could tell you about the cute girl with the blue shirt and grey long-sleeves underneath. Or the table of black people obviously out from church. The bald man with the chubby woman. The cell phone color. The old checkered blazer. The flashy tie and matching handkerchief on the man that seemed to be born decades ago. The old woman and their hugs. The young family of three behind me. The waitress. Her scarred lip. The crazy woman in the corner. Her huge friend. Her very large daughter with the giant hair. The black man at my 9 o'clock. The one that knew her as she walked in.
In no uncertain terms, I was people-watching. And I have no shame in that. I AM IN PUBLIC. AND SO ARE YOU!!! You are going to be seen. Get over it!
Well, probably for my own good, the cute woman came back to sit next to her husband at the table in between the crazy woman in the corner and me, and for whatever reason (Thank you, God???), she did not seat in the seat that she had been sitting in...but chose one on the right side of her boo. And that completely blocked my view of the crazy woman in the corner. I say for my benefit, because I just knew that I would make eye contact with her again. I mean, I was doing that naturally with a lot of people! It happens when you are aimed at them!
Well, she called the manager out. I never looked, but I certainly knew who he was. I was basically saying bring it. I pictured the manager coming over and kicking me out, and I pictured me asking for a written reason before that happened. I would not leave without one! Needless to say, I was pretty perturbed at the whole situation. It just blew me away.
Well, now her large friend (with whom I could still see) had to get in on it. Obviously they had talked over there. She yelled at me for looking at her daughters. Frankly, I couldn't even tell if one of them was a girl or not, but ok, they are girls. Anyway, I NEVER stared. Ever. I was being...normal?! Anyway, one of the kids got up to go eat or something (I honestly don't recollect), and this woman turned crazy now, too!
"YOU STOP LOOKING AT MY KIDS RIGHT NOW. DON'T YOU EVER DARE LOOK AT MY KIDS EVER AGAIN. THEY ARE MINE, AND YOU BETTER KEEP YOUR EYES OFF THEM."
This was seriously crazy. Like SERIOUSLY crazy. But I never said a word. I recognized these women as unstable, and frankly, I don't play around with that. But seriously?! I mean, seriously?! I had compassion on them (I think), as they were very large. Even the daughters. I know it's incredibly difficult to live in this world looking different. Being big. So I think I had compassion on them. I don't know their stories, I don't know their backgrounds, their pains, their reasons for having to fight like that. So I just let it all slide. On top of that, they were stinkin' women. Had it been guys, well, I'm sure it would have been way different.
But the whole idea of what was happening just blew me away. My heart was still racing. But I just sat there, arms crossed, drinking my sweet tea.
Eventually, the large woman got up to go get another plate. I had by this time had more than my fair share of this place, so I stood up, didn't even look over at the crazy woman in the corner, grabbed my jacket, and headed out. But I did have other intentions, too. I wanted to at least "save face." Frankly, I didn't know these women, and I would gamble that I would never seen them again. But dang it, this is my integrity. My reputation. My life. I at least wanted to let her know that I was doing nothing offensive.
So I caught her on my way out and asked if I could have a minute. She said no. I asked for it again. She begrudgingly gave in. So I said quite simply that I had no intentions in causing offense. I was out to offend no one, and I just wanted to make that straight. And then she went off on me for looking at them even after having asked not to have been looked at (I didn't remind her she was in public). And then she started telling me how those were HER daughters and how I was a man and how I just sat there and drank my drink and never ate any food and how those were HER girls and she didn't want me looking at them. I was completely and totally blind-sided. Worse than a freight truck. So THIS is what it was all about. She saw me as a sexual predator. Oh man oh man. By this time, the crazy woman in the corner had showed up. I glanced at her but continued talking very cordially to the larger woman. But that wasn't good enough. The crazy woman went off on me and let me have it again. Then she said she would "rail me" if she stood that close to me any longer, so she stormed off. WHAT?! I again apologized for the offense that she took. But this woman wasn't goin' to have it, either. The manager had come over to keep the peace. Frankly, he was tiny, a bit stand-offish, and really did nothing to help anything. He never even said a word but listened as I spoke very nicely. She wasn't goin' to have it. She was red and was backing off afraid of me. I couldn't believe it. Then she left.
I walked out with the manager, and he thanked me for being so calm. "Some battles aren't even worth fighting," I said. I stopped and talked with him for a bit, and not knowing the exact situation, he seemed to be favoring me. He said they come in there rather often, and they seem a bit different, he said. I forget exactly how he said it to describe them, but he didn't seem to be against me at all. Before I left, I told him that if he wanted to, he could walk over there and tell them that he had kicked me out if it would make them feel better. I said it in complete jest, of course.
But WOW. Like seriously.
I was pretty disturbed on my walk back to the hotel. I am just sick and tired of having these encounters. Of not being able to live in peace. I hate this world, I hate people, and I hate that I am always the one that ends up in these situations. And I also hate another part of the whole story. I hate to think it, but I'm almost certain it's profiling. I have a rather thick beard now, and I was wearing a beanie. I am almost certain that if I was clean-shaven, this would have never happened. Of course, I can't prove that, but I remember this from a few years ago. You get treated WAY differently going from handsome to lumberjack. And I'm simply afraid that is part of it.
Anyway, the walk back was just brutal. I had flashbacks of other encounters with people. I wanted to pray for her, but I was having the hardest time even doing that. I told God that I had nothing good to say about her at all. Just completely honest. I seriously battled praying for her for most of the walk. I was on the brink of tears several times in the walk...just confused as to why this always happens to me. Why I always have the stories. Why peace eludes me. Why I learn to hate people more and more every day. I'm constantly in these situations, and I don't even ask for them.
I don't know exactly what this did to me today, but I know I was pretty messed up by it. Someone accused me of being a sexual predator. On kids. The thought just absolutely sickens me. The argument could be that I don't have to worry about it. It's some crazy stranger that doesn't know me. But it's really more complex than that. I don't know how to describe how it feels to be even considered for that. It's...demoralizing, disheartening, sickening. Granted, she doesn't know me. But I think that all plays into all of this. People don't know me. I'm a nomad on the road. And so they judge me. They put me into a box. And I sat alone. With a beard. So someone considered me a dirty old man because of it. A predator. Maybe it's more simple than I'm giving it, but that thought just really messed me up today. How could someone even think that?
I spent the night in tonight.
Tomorrow is lookin' halfway decent. Like seriously only halfway. It's supposed to rain through the morning. At 1:00, the clouds are supposed to be at 3500. We'll see what happens. I won't lie...I'm already ready to leave this place. It's just...blah. I don't get a good vibe here. But I'm only 7% done here. I still have 10 hours worth of work left...at least a solid two days. I'm hopin' to get out of here this week, though. We've got some good weather rollin' in after the low-pressure system moves through. I'm just afraid it can't come soon enough.
Went to bed at midnight.