Thursday, January 28, 2010

you've got a lot of nerve (pt 4)

Rex and I are standing in line. In front of us is a Hispanic woman, maybe sixty years old. In front of her, using the machine, is a hippie type kid with long hair, a tattered t-shirt, and worn, dirty jeans. The kid is having difficulties working the machine. He seems to be staring at the screen, doing nothing. Maybe he really stoned or tripping, I consider. The lady in front of us is mumbling to herself, making noises, looking back at us, saying, “Ay dios mio.”

“I'm planning to go trout fishing out west later this year,” Rex says, in what feels like his first attempt at small talk all day.

“That should be fun,” I reply.

“Last year I went salmon fishing in Oregon, but I've heard good things about trout fishing in America.”

“I've never been, but I've also heard great things about it.”

The woman's limit has been reached and she is becoming unruly. The kid doesn't seem to have made any progress with his transaction either.

“Hurry up you dirty hippie. Stop smoking the dope and get a life,” She yells at the back of the kids head. She turns, looking back at us in order to gain our support and assist her in getting this kid to move on.

“Ma'am,” Rex begins, “you shouldn't call him a dirty hippie. He's a person too, and doesn't need to be called derogatory names.

A perplexed look forms on her face and she looks to me for an explanation. I have none, so I let my eyes drift to the ground. I glance back up, she has a stern look on her face and is eyeing Rex down as the kid finishes and walks by us.

“That's right you old bitch, you shouldn't call me names,” he says as he passes. Rex reaches out and grabs the boy by the throat and holds him still. He looks away from the woman to the boys and says, “You should never call anyone a bitch, and you should have more respect for your elders.”

The boy looks like he's about to crap himself as he shakes his head slowly up and down until Rex releases his grip. The woman, high on the empowerment Rex's actions have just provided her, begins cursing at the boy. Rex, completely aghast by the woman's attitude, puts a finger to her lips, aggressively shushes her, and then says, “You need to learn to respect other people.”

I'm stepping away from the scene, slowly and backwards, because I don't want to miss anything. I'm figuring at this point though, it's got to be over. Then the boy makes the mistake of laughing, which earns him a smack in the mouth. I shake my head at the futility of what is going on.

“Hey Rex, man, you get this straightened out, meet me over at the bar,” I shout trying to be heard over the three of them. Rex doesn't acknowledge me, I split anyway. As soon as I'm ten feet away, I'm filled with guilt. I know I shouldn't be leaving Rex in this situation, but I've never done anybody any good, so why should I start now.

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