Holiday morning, a pleasant time to ride bikes through near-empty Tucson streets. Iced coffee at Frank’s and my favorite spinach-mushroom-swiss omelette. What could go wrong?
A truckload of people, or dogs, pulled in. I couldn’t tell which. We were sitting at a small two-top on the patio facing Pima Street. Three people, three dogs took their places at two little tables. Hey, dogs are people too; they got rights.
The regular, tiny Mexican-American waitress stepped onto the patio from inside the restaurant. One of the dogs pulled on her leash, jumping up from a quiet spot under the table. “Oh don’t worry, she won’t hurt you,” nasty owner said, as the waitress jumped back, replying, “I’m petrified of dogs!” She scurried back inside.
Okay, so I butt in, maybe sometimes when I shouldn’t. I’m a blurter and a butter-inner. “Maybe some people don’t want to be around dogs,” I said, or something similar.
“If two people didn’t take a table for four it would be okay,” nastiness said, or something like that. That wasn’t enough for her. “I don’t know you and you don’t know me so shut your fucking mouth,” she continued, along with other stuff that upset me.
“Nice human being,” I said, trying to maintain my cool. But she had daggers in her eyes. Luckily, we were done. I wanted to get away from the bad vibes, the first I recalled receiving from strangers since 1978, when a truckload of guys whistled at me on a deserted side street in Norfolk, Va. I gave them the finger. The truck turned around and followed me down the street. I made it to our apartment and hid in the bathroom, too afraid to even look out the window.
I was so young. I haven’t given the finger to strangers since. Seems like a wise move.
Here’s the thing: I like dogs, but I don’t think they need to go out to breakfast with their people, crammed into a tiny narrow space where waitpeople are carrying dishes. Besides, the fearful waitress had to be there; it was her job. Dogs didn’t.
I like babies too. Nowadays, people often take their babies to concerts or lectures that require everyone being able to hear. And those parents stay with crying babies. They have rights, you know.
Public space. Private space. When my kids were babies — back in the olden days before we heard everybody’s business on cell phones — if one of them cried, out to the car we went. As they got older we discussed when it was appropriate to use “public voices or private voices.”
Feels like a new libertarian way of life to me. I want to do something, so I do it. Who gives a damn about anyone else. Is this the new “American Way”: I don’t have to listen to those fucking socialists. You know, I got rights.