I was in a fast food restaurant the other day. It was a bit of a guilty pleasure, I'm back on the demon Weight Watchers (OK, so it's not that bad...) and waiting for my teriyaki bowl to come up. I'd been shopping in a little town south of mine, it's very rural, very...err...well...redneck...and boasts a shopping outlet. So there I am, waiting when the guy at the counter calls out an order.
"Order for Hitler."
No answer. He waited for a few seconds.
"Order for..." he looked at the slip in his hand. The kid was Latino, and horribly embarressed by the words coming from his mouth.
"Order for Hitler."
So by that time, this huge, massive white guy has come to the counter to claim the tray, which is overflowing with all sorts of heart-clogging delight.
"Are you Hitler?"
The guy grins and claims the food. As he does so, he looks over at me, and I guess he must have seen the slack-jawed shock on my face. He was a big pudgy, Skoal-chewing local boy who probably thought the whole thing was funny. If so, I have to wonder where he was when they were teaching history in grade school.
I don't really know why this little incident is weighing so heavily on me today. Was he just young and ignorant? Stupid? Or was he really an admirer of Hitler? There are certainly a plethora of bigots and hateful people around this area. But when an elderly man came into the restaurant, he gave him the biggest, friendliest smile you could imagine.
All I could do was hope that he'd just made a stupid joke and that perhaps he saw my reaction and realized how inappropriate he'd behaved. I'd like to think that's the case. I'd like to think that the young giant of a man with the friendly smile didn't carry that sort of hate in his heart.
Guess that's where faith in our fellow man comes into play.
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