There’s a hole-in-the-wall mom-and-pop Chinese-ish restaurant in the neighborhood. It has just three tables and a few stools at the counter. Lunchtime on Saturday: The only table available was the one by the door, so we took it. I was just tucking into my bowl of noodles when the door slid open and an old guy shuffled in. He took one glance at me and his shoulders sagged, his lower lip stuck out about a mile. Mom of mom-and-pop said, “It’s OK. You can take the table at the back.” No response. He studied his toes. “Yada?” she asked, a kid word meaning “you don’t want to?” He glanced at me again and then shuffled to the table at the back, sat down, and pouted. All I could do was smile; for once this kind of reaction wasn’t because I’m a foreigner. I was in his seat.
I felt awful. He probably spent the week looking forward to hang time with his buds, and there I was, the proverbial roadblock on the highway to heaven.
The good news is we walked past the place today and the door was open to let in the much awaited sunshine. There he was, basking in his regular seat, frosty mug in hand, grinning like a two year old in a sandbox. I hope he had forgiven me.