You may have seen, Dear Reader, the report of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell being confronted at a restaurant over the weekend. You may have even seen the video footage that was uploaded and shared by TMZ. Maybe you found it cathartic and exciting. Maybe you found it distasteful and rude.
Right now, I don't give a damn how you feel about it.
[Side note: Havana Rumba is fanfreakingtastic and I highly recommend it! Their portions and prices are satisfying and reasonable, respectively, the food is always great, and on top of all that, they serve Mount Gay Rum. See below for more about this place.]
If you have been there, you'll know that it's an intimate (read: relatively tiny) building. There's one dining room and a bar. The bar is partitioned off with a wall that doesn't connect at either end, allowing patrons and staff to walk from one side to the other. It's not even a solid wall, for that matter, with windows spaced throughout. From an aesthetic point of view, I dig it quite a lot.
From a tactical point of view, however, I have felt exposed and vulnerable. I'm hypervigilant from PTSD and I have anxiety issues (remember those from earlier?). Being around any kind of altercation will cause that anxiety to spike. Being around one in such a confined and exposed setting as Havana Rumba would be overwhelming. I am grateful I wasn't dining a the time this incident went down because I would unquestionably have had an anxiety attack on the spot.
You really only have one choice to make. Do you try to get to the other side of the aforementioned partition wall with its windows, or do you go for the exit? Remember that there are windows in that partition wall, meaning you won't have the benefit of a solid wall between you and the altercation. And remember you may not be the only one wanting to get up and put some distance between you and the altercation, so you may well be competing with others for floor space. If you happen to be seated at a table between other tables, you're pretty much just trapped altogether unless whoever is at one of those adjacent tables gets out of your way.
Here are two illustrative photos. The first is taken from Havana Rumba's Facebook page. I've marked where Senator McConnell was seated. The second is from their official website, showing the bar. I've marked where I was seated the week before, and the table adjacent to his on the other side of the partition.
|From Havana Rumba and Tapas Bar Facebook page here.|
|From Havana Rumba website here.|
That brings me to another point. If I was there by myself, I would have at least felt reasonably confident I could navigate my way out of the place if need be. I've lost a step with age, but I can still skedaddle when I need to. But then I got to wondering: what if I had been there with, say, my favorite niece? Now the logistics expand from how I'm going to stay safe and get out if necessary to how I'm going to protect her, stay safe and get out if necessary. Getting out becomes a higher priority. Can I get her safely to the exit in time?
What if someone involved in the altercation sees movement and perceives that I'm a new threat to be neutralized? Now instead of being a terrified bystander trying to reach safety, I'm a conspicuous, visible target with nowhere to hide except maybe behind another human being.
I'm sure that every protester who has either participated in such a stunt or daydreamed about it has cast themselves as righteous defenders of the public. And I'm sure I would largely, if not unanimously, agree with their causes.
I am equally sure that every protester who has either participated in such a stunt or daydreamed about it has given little, if any, regard whatsoever to how it would affect anyone else. Havana Rumba isn't some swanky, exclusive sanctuary for One Percenters like that posh place Lara goes to confront Komarovsky in the beginning of Doctor Zhivago. It's a casual (and, again, fantastic!) restaurant frequented by ordinary people--the very same ordinary people on whose behalf this confrontation was surely staged.
|Havana Rumba is nothing like this place.|
I may sign your petition and retweet your thread and like your Facebook post, but I draw the line at entrusting the safety of my favorite niece to how well you control yourself in the heat of the moment.
ABOUT HAVANA RUMBA
As I mentioned above, the place is fantastic. It's also entirely authentic. From their official website's "Our Story" page:
Havana Rumba is a celebration of the culinary genius of the island of Cuba brought to life by a team of passionate people. Owner, Marcos Lorenzo immigrated to the U.S. from Cuba in 2000 hoping to realize the American Dream. His humble beginnings included plenty of hard work and determination as he learned the U.S. restaurant business. A civil engineer by training he applies a technical approach to the daily operations of the restaurants. However, cooking is his new found passion!I recommend the Cubano sandwich: Roasted Pork, ham, Swiss cheese, pickles and mustard. Served on a hot pressed Cuban bread with sweet potato fries. $9.50. (I 86 the pickles and substitute regular fries because I hate sweet potatoes.)