I'd been staying off of social media this past weekend to take care of myself even before Orlando. But I had this interaction and it brought me some comfort and I wanted to share it.
I want to thank the older man who approached me yesterday at Punjabi Deli while I was eating by myself. He asked me how to spell Orlando because he and his friend behind the counter were looking at the news. He wanted to tell me how sad he was about what happened, and to say how sad he was, as a Sikh, for the inevitable xenophobic backlash, that as a man who drives a yellow cab in new york wearing a turban, that he experiences racism daily, and even though he had nothing to do with the massacre that he wanted me to know how sad and sorry he was. He wanted me to know that it wasn't his religion, and it wasn't even about religion. That it was about someone who was sick, and sad, and scared. He told me about his son, getting angry at college and flipping over tables in the cafeteria, and he and his wife didn't know how to help him but they tried and were able to take care of him. He said that the killer probably didn't have anyone to take care of him. That this kind of tragedy is the product not of religion or even just homophobia but that it's something else, too. It's just sad.
I felt strange about our interaction, like I'd been asked to bear witness or something, and the older man thanked me for listening and I thanked him for talking to me. I felt really seen and comforted in a strange way.