Today we were waiting in line at our neighborhood Pollo Loco and the line wasn’t moving. I saw that the guy giving his order at the cash register was gesticulating impatiently.
Something was up. The guy was raising his voice but we couldn’t make out his words. I turned to my husband and said, “I hope we don’t get shot here, but I can actually think of worse places.”
I was thinking of CVS, where I happened to be during a very mild earthquake. I remember how glad I was not to spend my last moments in a CVS, crushed by products.
The guy at the front finally paid the cashier. We heard him explain that his jaw waas wired shut and he wanted to have his chicken shredded.
He moved aside to the salsa bar, where an older guy said something. The young guy, who was very tall and thin, said “I was shot in the face.”
Trying to compute this information, I heard the older say “blah blah blah small caliber?”
Men! If they’re not getting shot in the face, they want to talk about guns!
I could hear the older guy making suggestions, like getting “Ensure” for the protein and drinking soup. He seemed genuinely concerned. Now I had to walk past them and at that moment, the young guy pulled out his phone to show a picture of his x-ray – a skull with something passing right through the mouth.
I blurted out, “I’m so sorry!” and the guy turned to me. Now I could see how young he was, probably around 20. I put my hand on his shoulder and said, “I’m glad you’re here.”
He blushed and smiled. I saw a flash of smashed up teeth and metal. The older guy said, “Me too.”
We found a table and I felt shaken by the encounter. Witnessing simple human kindness is always so moving to me. It is nearly unbearable, in fact. I thought of how painful life is for so many people, all the suffering in the world and how hard it is to let yourself care or to stop from caring too much. I wished I could give the face-guy a blender. I wished people could stop killing Syrian children. I wished the loved ones I have lost would come back.
Suddenly there was a commotion at the counter. The face-guy was angry and wanted a refund. I guess they hadn’t shredded his chicken. He stormed out empty handed.
I went to get some salsa and saw the Korean manager yelling at the Mexican cashier. He was gong on about the refund, ranting about how it would throw everything off. He could not have cared less about a guy getting shot in the face.
I’m not sure what my point is here. But I’ll say this: If a guy gets shot in the face, he deserves some goddamn shredded chicken.