Dawdled in Pasadena today after taking care of some business. It was a nice day in SoCal. The sun was shining but there was a sheath of coolness that made you seek an open spot in the solar heat lamp because the shade presented a different climactic experience. I think of the planet Mercury’s predicament. It is sliced into incomprehensible boiling temperatures on the sunward side; incomprehensibly freezing temperatures on the opposite side of the molten globe. A union of wildly contradictory environments sharing the same planetary body, and if I remember correctly, Mercury does not rotate. It is fixed in space. I suppose I could do some quick cyber research Here and Now but is it worth it? Shouldn’t I “keep it real” as they say? Screw it, I’m almost positive my cosmic recollections are accurate regarding the innermost planet of our solar system. A contrasting epic landscape melding hot and cold. That’s what today was like here. In the sunlight, brilliant bliss; in the shade, not iciness but a chill taunted with shivers in the sunshine.
So it was against these polarized conditions that I wrapped up my business this afternoon before heading off to a small-sized chain restaurant for a late lunch. I won’t name Names but let me just say it is a more or less nationally-known diner-type of eatery that serves some pretty good food. We ordered our food and ate quickly as we were rather hungry by this point, having skipped lunch. Toward the end of our meal a famiily of four walked in. The parents looked to be late in their late 30’s or early 40’s. Their children, a boy and a girl, perhaps 11-14 or thereabouts. I noted them vaguely as they walked by our table and rounded the corner near where we sat. As happens in the big city, lives cross and you don’t linger on every stranger who wanders in and out of your existence. We finished eating and as I slurped down the last of my coffee our waiter brought the check. He was slightly grimy and exuded a roughly uncomfortable vibe but I didn’t think much of it. He had taken our order promptly and brought our food to the table in a sufficiently efficient and friendly manner. I asked for extra napkins which he brought us. There was nothing outstanding about him as far as I remember. I was experiencing a state of dwindling comfort as my coffee cup was slowly emptied and I realized I would have to get up and drive home soon. About this time, the family quickly headed to leave even though they had just ordered. The waiter rushed over and asked them if anything was the matter in a concerned tone. They continued walking, the father taking up the rear. Again the waiter asked him if everything was OK. The father stopped and though they were a distance away, I heard him tell the waiter (approximately) “We saw you blow your nose and not wash your hands. We’re going.” And he left the restaurant. The waiter, nonplussed, really, yelled “cancel the order” into the kitchen.
I don’t know where the family went to eat, but hopefully their waiter at the new restaurant was a little more discreet about his forgettable hygienic habits.
“Any time you choose to eat out you know you’re eating something that you have no control over,” I proclaimed. “You’re taking a chance and you have to face the fact that many servers are not going to follow all rules and regulations governing the preparation and serving of food. Sometimes it’s better not to know what happens to your food before it arrives.”
That spurned family might very well have chosen to eat at another restaurant where a kitchen worker might have used the restroom and only symbolically waved his hands under a weak trickle of cold water for 1/2 a second before returning to the kitchen where he handled their fries or bread rolls. Not knowing this they would still continue to relish their meal. If I was in their shoes, I would have done the same thing, however. Funny how that works.
We deliberately ease into a cynical awareness that spells to us the dysfunctional habits of our world however we happily continue enjoying our insular life with this half-knowledge hovering over us, infiltrating our reality on a very base level, and as such, not remaining valiantly unaffected. It’s only when we witness a malefactor’s misdeed first-hand as it directly affects us that we rebel and express enhanced consternation. The incident in the restaurant is a prime example of human nature. My waiter was the same waiter who the family saw blow his nose without washing his hands however our experiences were vastly different. I didn’t personally glimpse him do this before serving my food, and subsequently, I didn’t realize this happened until after I had finished my meal. So I remained unruffled for there is little to be done in hindsight. It affected me enough to superficially revolt me, but not enough to affect my actions.
I’m happy, like a great many, to coast along this haphazard route of modern life while the vague admonitions of wrongdoing flutter across my subconscious.
We live this life. We entertain and amuse ourselves and become expert at deferring our apprehensions, failing to give them life for we would rather expend our mental energies feeding life to trivialities. The world collapses but we don’t care because the trees don’t fall on us.