Off to SXSW!
Meet VR

La Quinta conversation

"Did I talk to you on the phone today?"

"Maybe," I said, looking up from my laptop. The young man standing in front of me in the La Quinta uniform looked about 20, head shaved, with an earnest expression and a sweet smile.

"About the last names? And being Jewish...?"

"I'm sorry," I had to say. "That wasn't me." I gestured at my rainbow kippah. "I guess you don't see a lot of these around here, huh?"

"Oh, I'm Jewish too," he said. "You're not with the group? There's a whole bunch of Jewish folks here this weekend."

I told him I was here for South by Southwest, and he nodded sagely. Where was I from, he wanted to know? Western Massachusetts, I said, though I grew up in San Antonio.

"There a big Jewish community there?" he asked.

"A pretty good size," I said. I might have told him more, but he was called away to do some work.

He came back after a few minutes, though. "I'm from a little bitty town in Mississippi," he told me. "Growing up there was..."

"Interesting," I guessed. I live in a small town now, but it's a small Massachusetts town; a very different Jewish picture from small town Mississippi, I'll bet.

"I'm Reformed, real Reformed. I go to a nice temple here. I like it a lot. The cantor's a woman, and the assistant rabbi's gay." He smiled.

"That's great," I told him.

"Where are you going tonight?"

I was waiting for a taxi. "To the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema," I said. "To see the American premiere of the Trailer Park Boys movie. It's showing at midnight."

"Have a great time," he said, warmly. I told him I would, and went outside to meet my cab.

Wish I'd thought to wish him a Shabbat shalom.

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