There is a man talking far too loudly on his cellphone and none of us are interested in listening to his conversation. He is ignoring the three kids at the table and his wife. guffawing loudly about jokes we can’t hear and gesturing for effect.
My family looks at me and my daughter asks why he is so rude. I make eye contact with the woman but she ignores me, doesn’t pretend to be uncomfortable. It is more important to her to let her boorish pal brag.
The waiter refuses to say anything, he is afraid because the man looks to be like some kind of hothead. I raise my voice and say “I am not interested in your conversation,” but it is a half hearted effort. My voice carries effortlessly but the question of whether this is the kind of effort I want to apply it to weighs upon me.
I check him out and see I am bigger than he is. Am clearly taller and outweigh him, probably have plenty of muscle to rip the phone of out of his hands and force it down his throat. Let’s see how he feels when someone doesn’t care what he thinks, but I don’t.
My son wants to know if I am going to say something because he heard grandpa make a comment about how obnoxious this guy is. I shake my head and say he is not worth it.
But the truth is that I won’t because my family is there and I think this man will want to make a big deal, it will escalate and I don’t want my kids to see that. I have no fear of this man and I know it, but my job as dad is to protect my family.
I won’t let them see the ugliness that I am sure will come. They don’t need to be exposed and there is a teaching moment here about picking and choosing battles.
He sees me glaring and glares back at me, still talking.
I stand up but don’t move other than to adjust my shorts. It is part of the silly game men play, I want him to get a good look at me and understand if necessary I will place him in the trunk of his car.
The manager is nowhere to be seen. I sit down and think this will make at least 5 different blog posts. It makes me smile, Jack isn’t just a dad, he is a writer who doesn’t know why he is talking about himself in the third person.
A photo of the jerk is taken and uploaded to Twitter. They leave and their absence is palpable, it is quiet. The meal is finished and my kids are smiling.