So this one time I was taking a work phone call on religious matters from a colleague, and decided to use the time on the phone to get my late evening walk in. I wound up in a well-lit 24/hr strip-mall parking lot talking matters of faith, devotion, and piety — or related. A man in a wheelchair verbally accosted me until I paid attention to him. He demanded to know what I was talking about on the phone. When he found out that I was discussing polytheism, he asked, “What, like that Greek mythology shit?”. He then peered and said, “But you’re a priest.” I confirmed this. “You don’t mean to suggest that you believe in those STORIES, do you?”
This exchange continued until he compared my religion to the dancing household items in Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, and the proceeded to physically attack me with a broken glass bottle. With a history of violence and combat of my own to draw upon, I found myself unusually uncertain of how to proceed: I’d never fought a person in a wheelchair before. Uncertain of how to proceed and yet unable to outmaneuver his wheels in the lot, as I am also physically disabled, I had to step over a cementer divider over which he could not pursue, choosing non-violence rather than defending myself, with a mix of emotions and whirring uncertainties.
People like to suggest that our society has moved beyond these things, but the reality is that is that it has not. My options that evening were to defend myself — a thing I am thankfully more than capable of — against an armed assailant, retreat with wounded pride and conflicted emotions over a concrete divider, or — with the graces of time-travel afforded me — successfully hidden my religion from a stranger three blocks from my home in a parking lot I was in almost every day.