Mind and Destiny

“I make no pretension to patriotism. So long as my voice can be heard ... I will hold up America to the lightning scorn of moral indignation. In doing this, I shall feel myself discharging the duty of a true patriot; for he is a lover of his country who rebukes and does not excuse its sins. It is righteousness that exalteth a nation while sin is a reproach to any people.”- Frederick Douglass

Location: Delhi, N.Y., United States

The author and his webmaster, summer of 1965.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Different, Diverse and Wonderful

Yesterday, the Oneonta Daily Star published a guest commentary entitled: “People are Different, Diverse and Wonderful” that had been submitted by Judy Welch, who is now a high school music teacher in Helotes, Texas.  

“In 1987, I became a single mother in Minneapolis, Minnesota.  My Texas teaching certificate was not valid in that state.  It would take quite a while before I could afford the courses for certification in Minneapolis.  So, despite being a college graduate, I took a job at a Perkins restaurant.  I had to support my children.

“My ex-husband and I worked out a schedule.  He would pick the children up on Wednesday afternoon and keep them through Sunday morning.  I would keep them Sunday through Wednesday.  That way I could work the weekends —  when waitresses make the most money.

“I enjoyed waiting tables.  People are so diverse, so different, and I loved to study their personalities.  Since Perkins is a family restaurant, we had several regular groups.

“One group came in every week on Wednesday after their Bible study at a church up the street.  It was usually a group of eight or 12 people.  They were polite and dressed conservatively.  The women wore modest dresses, usually calf-length, often in floral prints.  The men would wear white shirts and black ties.  They would stand and pray when I brought their salads to their table. They carried their Bibles and small pamphlets that they would leave in the lobby and on the table.

“These pamphlets changed about every two months.  The message was always the same.  “God wants to save you!”  The small books contained nine pages of illustrated Jesus stories showing you the steps to salvation.

“Unfortunately, they were not good tippers.  I shrugged it off.  I hoped that someday they would realize a quarter left by each plate was not going to help feed my children.  Eventually, some of the men started putting dollar bills under their dessert plates.  They all called me by name.

“On Thursdays, I had a much different group.  It was eight men — funny, loud, intelligent men.  As soon as they would walk in, I would make them eight blue cheese dressing salads.  I would greet them at the table with the salads and ice-cold lemonade.

“Then the fun would begin.  The first time they came in they were not in my section.  The waitress I was working with came back to the workstation and loudly said, ‘I can’t wait on them.  There is no way my mama would ever let me.  It’s just wrong.’

“The eight of them were coming in after their weekly support meeting.  I don’t know if it was called LGBT in those days.  I think that terminology came along in the 1990s.  Four of them were openly homosexual, one bisexual and three were transgender.  The three ‘Trans,’ as they called themselves, openly dressed as women.

“I have no problem with differences in people.  I told the other waitress I would take the table. After that, they were my regulars.

“They were amazing tippers and always made me feel special.  They asked about my children and my life.  They told funny, witty stories.  I looked forward to visiting with them every week.

“One night they were the only people in the restaurant.  I wasn’t allowed to sit and talk to them, but I could stand there awhile.  That was the night they told me about ‘Kendra.’  She was a member of the group.  In three weeks she was flying to Europe.  She finally had enough money saved to have her operation.  She had tears in her eyes when she told me the news.  They were going to have a huge celebration the night before she left.

“I was used to calling her ‘she.’  The homosexuals at the table also were happy for her.  They did, however, make jokes.  Homosexuals are men who love men or women who love women.  They enjoy and love their bodies.  The idea of any man cutting off that part of his body is terrifying to them, as it is to most of us.

“That is when I had a realization of my own.  Why would someone alter his body so drastically? Why would someone spend years to save money for the operation?  Why would someone face being outcast from the rest of the world?

“The answer was simple to me.  That is who she is.  She was born that way.  It was what she needed to be happy and live the life she wanted.

“I had no idea that one night at the restaurant these two worlds would collide.  The church group members were on time — 8:30 on the dot.  I had the table put together and ready for them.  Just as they began their salad prayer, I heard a loud group coming in the door.  It was my Thursday night group.

“Kendra’s plane was leaving at 12:30 a.m.  They came to eat before taking her to the airport. They wore New Year party hats.  They had streamers.  Party blow pops.  She had flowers and a corsage on her bright-blue dress.

“One of my favorite men in the group was about 6-foot-3.  He was wearing a full-length mink coat.  He was in a jubilant mood.  He was definitely not quiet.  I quickly put a table together for them on the far side of the room.  I continued to run back and forth between tables. 

“The church table folks began to mumble.  I think, without meaning to, I changed personalities whenever I would change tables.  I was formal with the church table, then casual and funny at my other one.  I did fear a confrontation could happen.

“I was right.  The church table was finished with their desserts when one of the middle-aged women — dressed in her flower print calf length dress — stood up.  She grabbed one of the pamphlets and headed for my other table.  As she approached them, she spoke in a loud, angry voice, ‘You are an abomination to God.  You will be punished in the fires of hell.  Here is your last chance for redemption.’  She slammed the pamphlet onto their table.’

“My mink-laden customer stood up slowly, all 6-foot-3 of him.  He took two steps away from the table, then twirled around three times in his beautiful floor-length coat.  He calmly said, ‘And you, my lady, will never be able to afford this fabulous coat.’

“She didn’t know what to say.  The church table quickly packed up and left, all the while mumbling and complaining to each other.

“No one won that night.  One group did not change how the other group felt about life.  However, it did clarify things for me.  People are different, diverse and wonderful.  I cherish them all.

“The news is controversial again.  People are so afraid that the new ‘public bathroom laws’ will threaten their children.  We will suddenly have men capturing our babies and raping them in the stalls.

“Even before this law, I never let my children go to a public bathroom by themselves, for a simple reason.  They were little.  They needed Mommy.  They were in public and I had to make sure they don’t get lost.  They needed to be safe.

“There are bad people in the world.  There will still be children abducted in the candy store or the toy aisle in a department store.  The difference now is some will yell loudly that it is because a transsexual used the bathroom. 

“The definition of transsexual, homosexual, lesbian, bisexual is not a child molester.  It is far more likely that a transgender person like Kendra will be assaulted by a man because she is using the bathroom that correlates with the sex she was given at birth.  Some men have even murdered people for being who they are.

“Think about it: Are we going to have Potty Police?  ‘Potty Patrol coming through.  Please have your birth certificate available when you walk into the restroom.  Knock, Knock, on the stall.  Are you sure you are in the right restroom?  Are you standing up while you pee?  I am calling the authorities.’

“I met Kendra close to 30 years ago.  As far as I am concerned she is welcome in any bathroom I am or will be in.  I hope you are well, Kendra.”


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