Lynne Dorfman and I are collaborating on a project. The half-way point between our homes is in the heart of Amish Country, where we met last time we got together to work in-person. However, we needed wifi for today’s work session. Therefore, we met at the Lancaster Barnes & Noble.
We worked for a few hours at Barnes & Noble, but needed to leave for lunch. Being gluten-free, I couldn’t find anything to eat at the B&N Cafe, so we drove over to Weis and hit the salad bar. Fortunately, the Weis near Barnes & Noble has a cafe (with wifi!) where we were able to sit. We had the whole place (like 15 tables!) to ourselves, which was a delight.
But then I noticed a man, with a large can of beer, plop himself down at the next table. Lynne’s back was to him so I’m not sure if she noticed him there. What I noticed is that he kept staring over at us (which caused me to glance back at him). His staring made me uneasy so I kept glancing back at him.
Lynne and I were in the middle of a serious discussion about spelling and conventions in elementary school (Exciting stuff, right?) when the man decided he’d weigh-in on why kids in American cannot spell.
I gave Lynne a look as if to say this is going to be good.
The man began his spiel, breathing his beer-laden breath on Lynne (who was now very aware of his presence), who was sitting catty-corner to him. He told us about his college degree, his former occupation, and that he was now a substitute teacher. Then, he began a diatribe on how kids in America cannot spell properly because of a lack of discipline in the public schools.
I looked at the time on my computer. We had 25 minutes left to our work session since I had to make sure I left ample time to drive west to pick Isabelle up from school. This was not how I wanted to spend my last 25 minutes with Lynne. So there I was, searching for an appropriate way to stop this man from wrecking our time, when Lynne sweetly interrupted him and said, “That’s not what our project’s about.” Then she swiveled around in her chair and began talking to me again.
The man muttered something, got up, and left. I was shocked he took the hint. I was thankful he wasn’t drunk. I was delighted Lynne found the right thing to say to shut him down (because it was nicer than the things I was conjuring up in my mind).
And just like that, we got back to work. And, by the way, we finished everything we set out to do together right on schedule.