Friday, January 16, 2009

Coffee with A Friend

Or so I had hoped.

Something unfortunate happened yesterday. A good friend of mine was free for coffee in the middle of the morning, which is not usually the case, and since we haven't had a chance to just sit and talk like we like to do—generally in a stream of consciousness—we met at My Favorite Place for Joe. I didn't say this up front, but I only had about an hour because I had two other errands to run and had to get some work done.

We hadn't been seated more than five minutes when one of my friend's old pals walked in, and we both waved to say hello. My friend went over to the guy to offer a more generous hello, and and he followed her back to the table. In the past, this man has had trouble remembering my name, so my friend took this opportunity to see if he could come up with it. He did, kind of, by referring to my articles that have been appearing in the paper.

I mentioned that someone had written a letter to the editor just the day before in response to my article about our local Latin stores and how the writer transitioned from Latin stores to the burden immigration has had on our country, not specifically in the form of bleeding the welfare kitty but in adding further stress on our already strained work force. The writer thinks we should close our borders to every immigrant from any country so that our own unemployed workers can find the jobs the foreigners take, as if all of the unemployed people from the financial district are going to run out and get jobs in the chicken processing plants or do manual labor for landscapers or work as day laborers on construction sites or make beds in hotels or cook in our restaurants. I'm generalizing here, a point that will come into play a little bit later, but the suggestion is foolish.

Anyway...this guy at the coffee shop took off from there and proceeded to lecture while standing beside the table for 55 minutes. 55 MINUTES, I know because I timed him. At first, it seemed we were having a discussion, and we debated the rights and wrongs of generalizing and profiling. We talked about how he suspected a family of Iranian immigrants of quite possibly moving to this country with the intention of killing us all and posing as business owners in the meantime, although he later talked about another immigrant he knows from Lebanon who is a good guy, he said. I wondered why he doesn't suspect that man of being a plant and why one family can move here to better their lives, but the other is suspicious.

I stopped interjecting my opinions when he switched to gun control, and then environmental laws and the "myth" of global warming, and then back to immigration, and then onto the Apocalypse, ....and then my brain went numb, and my head fell hard on the table. I started fidgeting with my Styrofoam cup, twisting the plastic lid to make a squeaky noise and lining the sipping hole up with the graphic on the cup just so. I checked my email on my iPhone, and I checked the time on my iPhone. I clenched my jaw and stared blankly, and I sighed.

When I had taken all I could stand, not having had a chance to ask my friend a single question about what's new in her life or where she got her cool necklace and did the sweater she was wearing come from JJill or Eddie Bauer where she has been shopping lately and her hair looked nice tucked behind her ears, I finally grabbed my coat and scarf and excused myself because the hour was up. I beat it for the counter and tossed my two bucks at Coffee Shop guy and said, "keep the change," and I hit the street.

So, here is what irked me so much besides missing out on some chat-time with a good friend: I can take having a conversation with someone who disagrees with me on nearly every subject addressed, but this was not a conversation. It was a lecture, one spouted off by a man full of self-importance, someone who smiles broadly with each disagreeable sentence because he knows how to use his charm. He has charmed so many people in town to their detriment.

He's interested to see how everything he said will affect my future articles and asked that I leave his name out of them. I did mention his bloated sense of self-worth, didn't I? I will not be writing about him or his opinions. I will say this, though: I'm pretty sure I've got an editorial running next Monday in honor of Martin Luther King Day. It's all about how there are plenty of rights to go around, and I wished I had the words to say that to my father years ago when he was feeling so threatened by King and his predecessors.

I believe that's true, that there is plenty to go around, but not if some people are going to hoard and stockpile while others can only dream about having decent shelter, enough food for their children to eat, a reasonable education, and hope for a brighter future. And I believe that while there are bad people in the world, viewing humanity through suspicion and generalization is a sad way to live.

12 comments:

RoverHaus said...

Welcome to small-town celebrity status!

I think I would have punched the guy in the throat. That is why you are the celebrity writer who gets solicited for unwanted views and I'm not.

I'm sure I know this guy. Does he send out unwanted emails on global warming all the time?

PF said...

Butt. I'm wracking my brain to come up with a name for Self-Absorbed Talking Man...

dive said...

What an excellent argument against Creationism, Robyn! No God with any sense of decency would ever have created an asshat like that.

lynn said...

Don't you just loathe the lecturers and the self-centred talk-at-you types?
Actually I have a girlfriend similar. I do like her though and she's funny, but sometimes I can sit there for a whole hour while she goes on about herself. If you do interject, there's an absent sort of sigh, then she resumes. About herself. Oh and she raids my fridge while she does it. Dear Robyn. What should I do? ;)

Shan said...

Bahaha you guys. Oh the awkwardness-sorry Robyn!!! This is why I am not very outgoing in real life. I can get stuck in the longest one sided conversations known to man but usually I like the person in the blithering position and I just let them go until I absolutely have to leave. Jamey laughs at my inability to stop a conversations and has seen me go for hours at a time on the phone with a talkative friend. It's nice. Like talk radio. Unless they of course are an ass. In that case you just have to smile politely and try not to encourage. Or get Jason to punch 'em in the throat. ;)

Shazza said...

All I have to say is: what an ass

Lulubelle B said...

We're so conditioned to be polite, even with idiots like this. Next time, I'd say "We're late for our yoga class/mani-pedi/whatever", grab my friend and run for the door. Or, if you don't want to be driven out, try the truth, "I've only got an hour before my next appointment and I really need to talk to Sally now."

savannah said...

there are days when i want to do bodily harm to these self important small minded half wit small town jerks! yes, ma'am, i had to listen to one of them thursday night. xoxo

dammit, dammit, dammit!

Mark said...

How embarrassing it would have been if you had dumped an entire cup of hot coffee on his pants. You would have felt so bad. ;-)

Would he have appreciated the irony if it was Guatemalan coffee?

Maria said...

I am sort of annoyed at your friend for bringing him over in the first place. First rule of a getting-back-in-touch date: NO interruptions allowed!

And really, you should have just started picking your nose or something to make him leave....

Well....actually, I think it was your friend's job to pick her nose.

:)

Rich said...

Of all things to ruin a perfectly good hour for coffee. I think we will be hearing lots more from guys like him, Robyn.

Mrs. G. said...

What a total ass. I think I dated him once.