backyard crowing


strange coffee encounter

I went to a Starbucks today to pick up coffee, and there wasn't an empty seat in the place. As I got in line, I noticed a white guy ahead of me in a Tommy Hilfiger jacket. Then, to my right, was a woman in a hijab, studying, probably for finals.

I noticed that the guy kept looking at her. He would look away briefly, but then look back at her, then mind his own, then back to her.

I'm not sure if she noticed or not, but the lady behind me in line seemed to.

It was weird. I thought about tapping him on the shoulder, and saying, "hey, I'm sure you don't mean to, but it looks like you're staring at the girl in the scarf, and she might be uncomfortable," or some polite variation. Assuming the best.

I considered something more aggressive, like, "hey, quit staring at her." Ultimately we got through the line, he got his drink, and seemed happy to be leaving.

And I thought about just talking about the weather, something completely banal.

I wonder if he was scared. Had she noticed him, she probably would have felt scared herself. Maybe they talked before I even arrived on the scene, and I missed a whole conversation.

Either way, it was strange. It was hard to discern whether the girl in the scarf even knew what was going on. I guess I could have turned to stare at her, to detect a facial expression, but that seemed worse.

Two white people staring at you in your hijab? No, thanks.

I even had thoughts like, "is he planning some sort of attack?" But for whatever reason, I didn't think a threat was imminent. The place was packed, he seemed nice enough to the cashier, and...well, my gut didn't recoil at the thought of staying put.

It also crossed my mind that he might be staring because he's genuinely concerned about her, or the state of racism today, something in that vein.

The other day I myself was in a different coffee shop and noticed two black women who I said 'hi' to. I felt a little uncomfortable because of the state of the world, not because of them. And it's possible I looked at them slightly too long, but I immediately remedied it and got to studying.

To be honest, I think the guy was scared. I think he has seen far too much false information on television about Muslims, and I think he was watching his back.

In a Starbucks. During finals. Really, guys?

And I'm not sure if I did the right thing.

Ridiculing someone's fear doesn't really help, either. It takes calm conversation, understanding, a back-and-forth.

11:06 pm - Monday, Dec. 05, 2016


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