Would you swear to that?

Thursday, September 6, 2012

I guess I have led a sheltered life. In over eight decades of living, I don't remember ever being sworn at. Sure, sometimes my name spoken in a certain tone of voice is almost the same as a swear word. I have received dirty looks at times when someone thought I had overstepped some boundary of politeness or diplomacy. And I certainly have been a partner in a serious argument. But I don't remember ever having a definite swear word directed at me, to my face. That is, until last Sunday.

Maybe because it was Sunday and the words said to me were the same words I had heard earlier in church, made me get upset at the verbal attack. I wouldn't have been so surprised if it had happened in a crowded place in, say, New York City, or even Joplin. But to have it happen right here in Nevada bothered me very much. I think what bothered me the most was that I had no idea that I had done anything to cause this stranger to swear at me.

Maybe I'd better tell the story. We were eating in a popular Sunday restaurant. (Because of the lack of choice, most of the restaurants that are open on Sunday are popular.) This restaurant often has many out of town people eating there, and last Sunday was no exception to that. The place was crowded.

Lester often takes me and maybe some other family members out to eat sometime during the week, but we began a tradition when he was actively preaching every Sunday morning, that if I didn't have a roast in the oven at home, I would take us all out to eat as my treat. (Mainly a treat to myself!)

After enjoying our meal and remarking that with only one exception we had not seen anyone in the restaurant that we knew, I went to the cashier to pay our bill with my credit card. I had the card and the bill on the little black tray the waitress had given us and was standing by the counter waiting for a middle aged woman to finish paying her bill. A middle aged man was standing right behind her and I assumed they were together. When she put her wallet back in her purse, I lifted the black tray with my credit card up and the cashier reached for it.

Suddenly with a loud, "Jesus Christ." the man I thought was part of the other woman's party glared at me and pushed forward. I turned in surprise and told him immediately that I thought he was with the other woman and didn't mean to go ahead of him. He said nothing but continued to push to the counter.

By then the cashier had already had my transaction started and continued on as if nothing had happened. I signed the credit slip and got out the door as quickly as I could to join my family members who had already left the restaurant and were waiting outside. None of them saw the episode.

I was surprised at how shaken I was at the really minor incident. I wasn't hurt, not many in the restaurant noticed what had happened, and I was not made to feel embarrassed in front of any friends. The one couple we did know wasn't seated where they would have observed what had happened. But for a couple of hours afterward, I still kept reliving the scene.

Yes, I have led a sheltered life if something this minor could affect me, but I think it is because most of my adult life I have lived in towns no bigger than Nevada. And often we have been fairly well-known and those who didn't care for us were not ones who would have sworn at us, or at anybody.

I am grateful that I have led a sheltered life, and I hope the man who felt I pushed ahead of him in line wasn't delayed too long before his bill was taken care of. And I hope that someday he might have the joy of also living in a small town where most people smile at you instead of swearing at you.