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What Would Hydaelyn Do?

, , , , , , | Right | October 7, 2019

(I am working after school at my family’s pizza place during the winter of 2016. I am working at the counter and have just helped a few other students from my high school, one of whom is wearing a red hat with the text “Make Eorzea Great Again” on it. Eorzea is a fictional land from a popular online video game. The hat is essentially a meme, poking fun at the MAGA hats of the current presidential campaign. I smile at the kids from my school and tell them I’ll bring their slices over to them when they’re ready then begin helping my next customer.)

Me: “Hello! What can I get started for you?”

(Nothing but visible anger and grumbling.)

Me: “Sorry, ma’am, I didn’t catch that.”

(She walks over to the booth the prior customers sat down in and grabs the red hat off of the one student’s head.)

Angry Customer: “How can you even serve these people here? It’s f****** disgusting!”

(I see where this is going. I’ve certainly got political beliefs of my own, especially for a sixteen-year-old, but I wouldn’t dream of bringing them to my family’s restaurant. I stifle a giggle and can’t quite suppress the accompanying smile as she cuts me off before I can point out her mistake.)

Angry Customer: “How can you be laughing about this? Trump wants to send you all back to Mexico!”

(I’m Italian; my entire family is Italian. We have perhaps slightly darker skin than your run-of-the-mill northern European along with dark hair and eyes. I can’t say I’m so much insulted by the idea that she thinks I’m Hispanic — since there’s nothing bad about being Hispanic — but more just perplexed by it since, after all, we are literally in my family’s pizza place. Can you get more Italian than that? My mom peeks at me from deeper in the kitchen; she’s a very shy person, though, and despite her willingness to step in I don’t want her to have to.)

Me: “I’m genuinely sorry that you’re upset. For what it’s worth, my family immigrated here more than ninety years ago from Italy, so we won’t be going anywhere and you don’t have to worry about us—”

(I see her face drop as she realizes her mistake but then she seems to refocus her anger on the hat. She interrupts me.)

Angry Customer: “That doesn’t matter! You still shouldn’t be serving these scum!”

(She takes the hat over to the soda pump and soaks it in cola. I mentally prepare for having to pay for this kid’s hat now.)

Me: “Ma’am, just look at the d*** hat.” *rubs the bridge of my nose, done with her, and grabs the slices that are ready for the students along with some drink cups* “What does it say?”

(I set down their stuff at their table. Thankfully, they’re good sports and are just cracking up at this rather than escalating the situation.)

Angry Customer: “I know what it says! So do you! It’s racist!”

(I take the hat from her and turn it around, dripping soda onto the floor in the process, and point out the entirely fictitious place listed instead of America.)

Me: “Do you know where that is? It’s in a video game. You ripped a hat off a student from [High School] and drenched it in soda all because you got angry at what you mistakenly thought it said. At this point, I don’t even want to serve you. I think it’s best if you leave.”

Angry Customer: “That’s not the point! Why are you defending them?! It’s still furthering his agenda! Are you people here racists, too?”

(My mom has apparently gone to grab my dad who is… certainly not shy. He’s also not thrilled that he’s overheard someone calling his daughter a racist.)

Dad: “You need to leave. Now.”

(He comes around the counter and the lady yells, yanks the students’ pizza off the table and onto the floor, and takes off out the door. Dad shakes his head, smiles at me, and goes back into the restaurant, presumably to grab something to clean up the mess.)

Me: “I’m sorry about your hat and the wait, guys. I’m sure I’ll be able to comp your meal and we can pay for a new hat or something.”

Customer With The Hat: *still laughing to the point of crying* “Don’t worry about any of that! It’s all good; we don’t mind waiting as long as I can rinse this out somewhere… but did it occur to you to tell her you’re the president of the Young Conservatives at school?”

(We all shared a good laugh at that and I made some friends. I still play that online game with those guys!)

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