When I signed up for the annual Canvass Dinner, I explained that I needed to eat in the Social Hall because I have to wear a gas mask in the sanctuary to filter out the allergens in that room and I can’t eat wearing a gas mask. No problem, they said. I confirmed my need to eat in the Social Hall twice more. Not to worry, they said.
That day I arrived at three to help set out brats and buns for the dinner. After we separated out special foods for the gluten-free, the dairy-free, the pork-free, the meat-free, and the all animal products-free diners, I laid my raincoat on a chair to reserve my place in the Social Hall. Then around five someone asked me to welcome the arrivals and I went out to the parking lot with an umbrella. Half hour later, when I came into the Social Hall to eat, my coat had been moved and the table was full. Nobody claimed to know why the coat was there or whose coat it was although my name was printed prominently on it. One person at the table said, “Everybody knows you were supposed to reserve a place by drawing on the newsprint.” The others at the table laughed.
I was so furious I couldn’t speak. My mind flashed back to middle school Mean Girls. Wasn’t my need to simultaneously eat and breathe as important as the needs of the voluntary vegans?
I took my plate of food and went home.