I go out of my way to be nice to people. Jennifer sometimes gets angry with the level of friendliness that I sometimes show towards others. Yesterday wasn’t one of those times.
Jennifer had an appointment in Marshall yesterday afternoon. I rode in with her. She dropped me off at McDonald’s for some free Wi-Fi. The one table with a power outlet was empty, so I headed toward it and plugged the laptop into one of the two receptacles.
So I start in with checking my email, email a potential sponsor or two, download some podcasts, etc. Next thing I know, it’s 4:00 pm and Jennifer is walking through the door. Not long after, a group of girls comes in and one of them plugs her iPhone into the other receptacle. An hour later and we are about finished.
It was about this time that a man – maybe about my age but looking a lot older – enters with a girl of about 8 or so. The girl is carrying a laptop. She first sits at a table in the middle of the place. Then the guy, presumably her father, and she move to the table across from us. The little girl takes the power cord for her laptop and attempts to plug it in. She sees that there are no free receptacles.
“There’s no room,” she tells the guy.
He said something to her in reply, but I didn’t really pay attention because I had already put some words into motion.
“We’ll be finished in just a little bit,” is what poured out of my mouth. I started to move the cursor over to the battery indicator to check the status and had already moved to start the unplugging process. I looked over at where the phone had been plugged in, but where now only the charger was plugged into the wall sans iPhone. I started to point out the fact that the girl in the table next to him was probably already finished with the receptacle when the guy opened his mouth and found out how to not get what he wants from me.
He takes his seat while looking directly at me, and the guy says, “They’ve probably been here all day.”
Now I don’t know if he meant to speak so loudly, or if in his family things are so loud that he doesn’t realize that the rest of us have normal hearing. I don’t know if he thought he was far enough away that I couldn’t hear him.
It is possible that he meant for me to hear him and just thought that his words would shame me or urge me to finish faster.
Instead, I looked him right in the eye and held that contact when I responded, “Or maybe I’ll just stay here the rest of the night.”
In fact, I had been there for 4 or 5 hours at that time. I see nothing wrong with that. It was too cold to do anything at home and Jennifer had to drive into town anyway. McDonald’s has free internet, and I like their coffee. They don’t make a lot of money on me, but at least I’m not a complete mooch.
The look on his face said that he was shocked that I had spoken to him that way. He broke eye contact and just sat there for a moment. Then he got up and walked around the corner. I assumed that it was to speak to someone who worked there. I still don’t know what he did while he was up, but after he sat back down, a female McDonald’s employee without a uniform came over and started talking to him and the girl. I assume she was the mother of the child and possibly the guy’s significant other.
It dawned on me that I had seen them there some months before as a family sitting at that same table looking at car parts or something on the laptop. Then it occurred to me that maybe he spoke to me that way because maybe she had made some remarks about people who use the Wi-Fi at McDonald’s. Maybe she hadn’t. Maybe he is just a hateful kind of person.
He didn’t say anything else to me – didn’t even look at me, actually. I was upset. Here I was, trying to be nice to the guy and then he goes and mouths off to me. I was also upset because the little girl seemed a little sad that she couldn’t plug the laptop in. Surely she shouldn’t have to suffer just because her presumed father is so ill-mannered.
I finally caved after 5 minutes or so of watching the little girl. I didn’t want the guy to think he had won (I do have a little pride left), so I walked over to the iPhone girl and asked her if she was finished with the receptacle. I told her that if she was, the little girl would like to use it. The iPhone girl hopped right up and unplugged the charger and the little girl looked at me questioningly.
I pointed at the receptacle and said, “Go ahead.” Not that it was up to me whether or not she used it. I just wanted to let her know that I didn’t have a problem with her.
We ended up staying until after they left. I guess it was a prideful thing to do, but I felt better by doing it.
I would like to know more about this guy. He didn’t seem very likable, but of course, that may be due to the fact that he was making offhanded remarks about me before even introducing himself. I wonder if he is likable enough to have any real friends. Then I find myself wondering what he does for a living. I can’t imagine that he has a job that requires a lot of people person type skills. I also wonder how he came to be so hateful. Stefan Molyneux, host of Freedomain Radio (www.freedomainradio.com), would probably say that he had some type of problem in childhood, most probably with the way that his parents treated him.
Anyway, his behavior upset me. Actually, his behavior elicited a response from me that had all but disappeared since moving onto the homestead. I can remember the last time I became that upset with a total stranger. That had to be at least a year ago. I thought I was mellowing out. Instead, I found myself facing the same adrenalin rush that always accompanied a shoplifter apprehension, or a dishonest employee interview, or a defense attorney. I can’t say that I don’t like that rush. Since I’m looking for a job anyway, maybe I should look for one that would allow me to experience that rush a little more often.
Or maybe not. Maybe I shouldn’t want that rush. That crap was crazy. That crap was stressful.
But that crap was fun.