The other day as I was at a coffee shop with an ex colleague in walked this man. 'Black coffee with milk on the side," he tossed out loudly over his shoulder and settled down on one of the sofas with a friend.
A few minutes later we heard raised voices. The man was yelling at the staff - You have NO idea what a black coffee is and you work in a coffee shop!! You bloody f****** Indians . . . . . No don't call them becharas (poor things). That's exactly why they do nothing to improve themselves. We're too soft with them . . . . . . . . DON'T, DON'T say sorry. Save it up for your bosses when they fire you."
I had my back to the man and I turned to look just as every other customer in the coffee shop. The verbal barrage was vicious and brutal and very loud. It left us stunned and silent. Oh and in case you are wondering he was very much an Indian. I wanted to say something, anything. Something in support of the boy at the counter, anything to stop the man. But I couldn't. All I could do was throw the rude man a furious look and turn back to my colleague. The man quietened down after a while.
My friend and I continued our conversation that ranged from books and my blog to his job with a newspaper. When my friend got up to go to the counter I heard a
"What's your name?" addressed to my back.
It was the rude man. He was alone; his friend had apparently left.
"Why would I tell you?" I asked half turning to him, still infuriated.
"Because I'm a writer too. I write scripts for soaps at Balaji Telefilms."
I put a mental black strike against television soaps and their writers even as he seemed completely unaware of my reaction. He simply went on to enumerate the soaps he had written and how "people like me" would probably find them boring. For a moment I wondered if it was the same man at all. It really was like he was a different man, like the nasty scene hadn't happened, or at least as if he wasn't responsible for that vitriolic attack.
I was too outraged to get into a conversation with him. I nodded/shook my head dismissively as my friend returned to the table. Then finally when we were leaving he called out a 'God Bless You' from his corner!!
I am still stunned at this volte-face. Did he not realise how rude he had been? Did the boy at the counter not matter to him at all? Or did he think as a 'creative person' or a minor celebrity he had the right to 'mood swings'? And worse, did he think I condoned his outburst?
What irked me even more was my reaction. I wish I had made my displeasure obvious. I could have asked him to keep his voice down while he was shouting. I could have completely ignored his attempts at a conversation I truly didn't want to be a part of. Better still, I could have mentioned his earlier outburst.
|Most definitely, yes!|
However, none of this happened.
It was only later that I thought of scores of ways in which I could have expressed my distaste for his behaviour. For many many hours I couldn't stop thinking of the boy at the coffee shop whose day had probably been ruined.
Does this ever happen to you - this inability to verbalise your feelings - specially negative ones even though you know you should? How do you react to rude strangers? Would you consider reacting even if the rudeness isn't directed at you?
I'd love to hear your thoughts.
Labels: coffee shop, random, rude people, Thoughts