As a high school kid, I got interested in the Grateful Dead.  I was one of “those people” as one former co-worker described us.  Following the Dead always provided a lot of interesting and unusual situations.  It was enlightening to see how different cities and different people reacted to the sudden invasion of DeadHeads.


Some places were ecstatic that we were generating revenue in their town.  Others were less equipped to deal with a few thousand temporary denizens.  In 1985, the Dead booked two shows at the Fox Theatre in Atlanta, GA.  The advance hype was that this was one of the most beautiful theatres in the country.  I was really excited about going there.


One thing I wasn’t prepared for was the culture shock of dealing with true blue rednecks.  It didn’t seem that we were wanted guests.  The first problem arose at the hotel.  Reservations were not being honored for everyone.  ( I was with 10 other people—long story.)  This could have been an honest mistake due to overbooking.  We were able to find accommodations at another establishment that seemed happy to have our business.


The following morning about five of us decided to go out for breakfast.  There didn’t seem to be many choices within walking distance.  I spotted a little diner and we decided to give it a try.


We walked into the diner.  A few patrons seemed to be shooting dirty looks our way.  A sign instructed customers to sit anywhere so we found a table and sat.  No one on the waitstaff came over to greet us.  We seemed to be the subject of much resentment.  The waitress did not bring us water or menus.  It was obvious they didn’t cotton to tye dye clad DeadHeads.


I glanced around.  The place was fairly dingy.  It was a greasy spoon in the truest sense of the words.  Several of the patrons were wearing dirty clothes and were probably unbathed.  Yet somehow, they felt we were unworthy of service.

After 10 or 15 minutes, we took the hint and decided to leave.  This incident upset me but also helped me understand how some minorities feel.  It was blatant bigotry of its own kind.


But my faith in humanity was quickly restored.  We saw a beat cop after we left the greasy spoon.  We asked for suggestions and he gave us five options within walking distance.  His kindness was appreciated by all of us.  He was truly an honorable person.


We ended up eating breakfast in a falafel joint several blocks away.  The staff there went out of their way to make our meal a pleasurable one.  The food there was probably better than the place we vacated.


Being snubbed in this manner has made me more tolerant toward others.  It hurts to be treated that way for no good reason.  I hope that I never lower myself to that level.  No one should be prejudged because of their appearance.  It’s a lesson I am glad to have learned.



Author's Notes/Comments: 

misadventures of a 19 year old kid getting out and seeing America. 

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allets's picture

Cool Story

Twice something aking to that happened to  me in restaurants. We shut down most of the Denny's here near and around Detroit. We just stopped going there. People would come in after we arrived and we would get served last. At one restaurant they walked away from me while I was trying to pay for the food. I watied five minutes for them to return. I looked at the patrons and realized I needed biker back-up in this joint. Rich white people in nowhere Michigan. A friend couple got locked into their hotel after check in so they would not walk the streets. - We all have tales to tell. It is, after all, america!



georgeschaefer's picture

Denny's always had the

Denny's always had the issues.  Unfortunately, an awful lot of white folk have never had an experience like that so they can walk around with blinders on.  You can't correct a problem if you don't even see that the problem exists.