Grandpa Said What?!

Moms and Dads, you might want to take the little ones out of the room for this one. It isn’t going to be pretty. 

I was on my second visit to McDonalds today. Given that I’m not much of a fast food fan, this was a first for me. However, I was meeting a friend and she picked the place. It was just before the lunch rush, but looked crowded. I worried that my friend might not find me. For the amount of cars in the parking lot there was only one person in front of me. I ordered and stood back to wait. While waiting two young men I would guess to be about twelve or so took their turn to order. I smiled to myself as I watched them. I found myself reminiscing about some of the young people I’ve worked with at our (now closed) homeless/runaway youth shelter. I also thought of my own boys and how they were at this age.

My number was called. So grabbed my order, picked a corner booth where my friend would see me when she arrived, and sat down. I was about ten minutes early. So I took out my tablet and decided to catch up on some work. I noticed a large group of men. They were the grandfatherly types who often meet up for coffee. Same time, same place, every week. They seemed to be really enjoying themselves. This also made me smile. They reminded me of my dearly departed grandpa and his friend, Bob. In my younger years I would accompany them to the same types of gatherings, feeling special about being the only girl allowed. 

I reluctantly went back to my work. Out of nowhere I heard the words, “I used to bang her.” In utter shock, my head jerked in their direction of its own accord. My next reaction was that I must have misheard something. When I heard another man say something similar, I did a mental rundown of the word, “bang” and thought that it MUST mean something else to the older generation. I was feeling a mix of emotions. On the one hand, their language was appalling. On the other, I was the tiniest bit impressed that they still thought about these things. Niave...no? But, alas, it was meant the way it was spokenAt this point I tried to ignore what was being said. I’ll be honest. It was a struggle. The more I tried to ignore them, the louder they became. The way I saw it I had two options, walk away or speak up. I chose option one.

Yeah, that lasted about five minutes. As I listened to phrases like, “I like the drugged out ones.” I thought I’d be sick. Lost in a wave of nausea and confliction, I looked up and saw the two young boys. In the same moment the statement, “I like them best when they’re soft and unconscious." was uttered.  I. Was. Done.

I gathered up all 5’3” of me and quietly walked over to face them. I waited for what seemed like an eternity, but was probably only seconds. When I caught their attention, I gently said that I could hear what was being said. I asked if they would maybe stop, that their comments were hurtful. I felt surprisingly calm. I said my piece and started back to my own table. I’m not sure what response I was expecting. I mean, they were just openly talking about raping unconscious women. I saw some heads instantly fall. I saw embarrassment. I saw shame. I also saw audaciousness, mirth, and hate.  

I was called out for being white. I lost track of the number of times I heard the word “b*tch.” Everything from my skin color, my sex, God, “white religion,” was spewed at me. Nothing was off limits. I was even blamed for Donald Trump winning the presidency. Through approximately fifteen minutes of sexism, racism, and misogyny at its finest, my quiet yet  determinant smile remained. Rude questions were met with gentle answers. I softly asked if they would like their wives, mothers, daughters, and granddaughters talked about in this way. This was met with an emphatic, “Yes." The loudest told me that he was 70 years old. I quietly, if not a little cheekily, responded that he should then maybe know better.  Asked, “That b*tch moved. Why can’t you?” I stood (well sat) my ground. I could have easily just moved. I didnt need to subject myself to the hateful words being hurled my way. For a millisecond I entertained the thougt of snapping a photo and posting it to socIal media. But, to me, it wasn't about public shaming. Those two young boys saw the most disgusting example of the way a woman deserves to be treated. But they also saw a quiet, yet determined woman stand up for herself. It was about planting a seed and possibly opening a few eyes.

I never once felt unsafe. I also no longer felt sick to my stomach. I looked these gentlemen in their eyes and felt nothing but the strangest sense of sympathy. I quite honestly would have pulled up an chair, had one been empty, just to have a conversation…a real conversation about women and what, in their lives, brought them to have such harsh feelings about females…and white people. No idea where on earth that boldness (some say craziness) came from. Actually, that isn’t true. God is the only one who could provide this type of recklessness. I am overwhelmingly grateful for the compassion He gave me in that moment.

One by one they left. When I thought the last of them had departed, I went to the counter to talk to the manager. One wasn’t present at that moment. So I spoke with a few employees…three young women, to be exact. My guess is that they were in their late teens or early twenties. I was told that mine was not the first complaint. The complaints weren't  even limited to this visit.  This has happened with these men, at this restaurant, at least two other times. Now I was angry…very angry. To be honest, it might have had something to do with the whole “anger” stage of grief just catching up to me, but anger was certainly present.

Grief? One maybe wonders what I could possibly be grieving. I have certainly heard worse. Heck, I heard worse from the man I vowed to love, honor, and cherish for the rest of my life. I’m a big girl. Their disgusting words didn’t hurt me in the slightest. I guess I grieve for the young men and women who were present and forced to witness what took place. If older generations view their neighbors in this way, then I grieve for humanity itself. 

We constantly talk about how disrespectful today's generation is…how entitled and immoral they are. Well guess what? They learned it somewhere. It seems as though all of the blame I’ve placed on television, movies, social media, and music all these years has been a bit misplaced. 

Somewhere at the end of their tirade of ignorant epithets, the loudest man bragged about his mother. This caught me off guard. He said that he was raised right by a “lady.” Now I’m not going to call a flagrant foul or anything. I mean, who am I to say? I’ve never met the woman. It did, however, make me more than a little curious about his definition of the word “lady. This guy wouldn’t know a lady if she smacked him upside his head.

He did, after all, spend a good deal of his energy today insulting one.