At the grocery store, 8:40 p.m.
Sylvia and I are going through the checkout when a couple pulls their cart in behind us. The man very much resembled our friend Dave.
I did a double take, and since I was looking at the guy strangely (for the second time) I offered an explanation:
“I’m sorry, you are the spitting image of a fellow I know in Newfoundland. I just had to do a double take.”
He stared at me for a full 3 seconds and I was wondering if he even heard me when he replied:
“I speak English.”
It took me a minute to understand. Because I inherently believe, rightly or wrongly, that people are good. It always takes me a while to catch on when I am being insulted.
And because I am equally flustered when I realize once again to my dismay that there are true idiots in the world, I can never get a comeback out fast enough.
So I say, lamely and with a bright smile, “Well it’s all the same language.”
He shakes his head and says “I don’t know, with you Easterners. We speak clearer.”
And then the cashier gets in on it:
“Sometimes I wonder – with all the Filipinos and Vietnamese, is it really the same language they’re trying to speak?” she says. “I’d rather listen to a Newfoundlander than try to pick out what the Filipinos are saying.”
And again, because I am slow to come back and because my impressionable daughter is with me, I say “Well I guess it just reminds us all to pay more attention to each other.”
Stuffing the receipt in my wallet, we hightail it out of there before it escalates.
On the drive home, blood boiling, I came up with several comebacks for the man.
“Well YOU speak like an asshole.”
“Don’t you mean you speak more clearly?”
“Easterners are driving your economy, so you better learn to like us.”
And the ever eloquent, “Fuck you.”
I’m sorry I ever mistook the man for our friend Dave.
Dave is a gentleman.
If I knew which truck was his in the parking lot, I’d have keyed it.