I am sitting at Panera Bread in Murrysville trying to get in some writing time. It’s difficult, as there are two men sitting at my seven that are distracting me. I can’t figure out what these two men are doing here together–they aren’t related, they don’t seem like old friends, they aren’t talking business or expecting anyone else, as they are sitting at a two-seater table. The man in the heather grey tshirt is telling a boring story about a car show that he went to in Latrobe recently. As I sip coffee between yawns, I hear him continually referring to someone at the car show as a “retard.” He uses it as though it’s a sizzling-hot new slang word that he’s just learned this morning from his Urban Dictionary word-of-the-day email; as if using this word catapults him to the peaks of coolness.


I want to say something to him, but what? He’s not directing it at anyone and is of the age where he may have grown up saying it without a second thought. What I would like to say, in a perfect world, one in which he doesn’t interrupt me or get up and walk away, is this:


“Excuse me? If you are going to proclaim to the entire restaurant that you associate mental and physical challenges with stupidity, then please just stay home, where I don’t have to hear you spew garbage? Oh, and by the way, I’m sure the people at Panera Bread appreciate you bringing your Sheetz coffee mug in to drink. Last time I checked, although it may not be posted on the wall, it’s frowned upon to bring food or beverages from one restaurant into another–oh, and it’s also super classy that, in addition to NOT being a paying customer, you’re using their wifi. Class act. Please, tell me, where are you from and who raised you, so I can be sure to never go there and so I can call your family and ask what happened along the way that made you the colossal jerk that you are today? What traumatic event derailed their teachings and made you so insensitive, so ignorant, so quick to offend people sitting four feet away from you, ready to unleash a lifetime of what she learned on you– to always, no matter what, stand up for what you believe in and for those who aren’t able to stand up for themselves.”


—But I won’t do it. Not today. As much as I want to publicly chide you for your continued foolishness, today is not the day. As much as I want to give you a day that you’ll never forget, I’m going to give you a pass. Today, I will practice restraint and be the sensitive human being–because today, there’s a mother with her mentally and physically handicapped son sitting on the other side of the restaurant, enjoying coffee and pastries and happily chatting the morning away, without any awareness of the wifi pirate on the other side of the restaurant who either doesn’t know any better or just doesn’t care. 


You’re lucky that the mother and son aren’t within earshot. That would be another story altogether, much different than the one that unfolded today. Instead of doing what I’d normally do, focus my attention and energy on scolding you and trying to teach you a lesson, I’m going to what is right and focus my attention on the beautiful mother and son today, going about their day and enjoying every moment of being in each other’s company. 


Instead of wasting more time on you, I will sit here, as this tear rolls down my cheek–a tear straight from my heart and for every sweet soul ever hurt, directly or indirectly, by your seemingly innocent ignorance. I’ll cry for humanity today, not for you.