All my life I’ve been a blue girl in a red state. I’m used to not having my candidate win. Like ever. I’m down with it. Nevertheless, she persists.
I am fortunate that our schools close on election day, which means I’m off and so are my children. A little mini-holiday mid-week is always welcome. So after I cast my ballot full of candidates who will not win, I take my little guy out to celebrate the fact that I am allowed to be a voice of dissent, even if no one around me listens. I’m feeling all Mighty Girl and #metooish.
We head to a local, spacious breakfast place that is wheelchair friendly. We order and await our pancakes.
While I am playing with N and reading the children’s menu to him a group of old white men are seated next to us. They have obviously just come from the polls as well, as they are discussing the election.
“Wouldn’t it be something if Pelosi lost her seat?” they guffaw. “Lord, wouldn’t that put liberals in their place?”
They obviously haven’t heard there is a blue wave coming. But then, the blue wave isn’t coming to South Carolina. Not any time soon.
While I eat my meal and coax N to feed himself (because he can but he doesn’t like to when Mama’s around), I think about how I just voted in hopes of a better future for him. In hopes of not having to be afraid he will lose his healthcare, or that he will be mocked by someone as senior as the president himself.
At the next table over, I hear one man tell a joke that would once have been considered old Southern humor, but today would be judged as racist. And yet, in the next breath he clearly speaks of an African American pastor whom he once served with, and it is obvious he deeply respected this man. He doesn’t get it, I think.
Between coffee refills, I judge these men in my mind.
I’ll bet they want to cut Medicaid to my sweet boy here, I think. I’ll bet they think that they shouldn’t pay taxes for education since they have no kids in school. (Money that pays my salary). I’ll bet they support the bullying, fear-mongering president we have in office who mocked a disabled person and justifies putting kids in cages.
They are probably judging us as well. “Bet that kid costs the taxpayers a bundle.” (They do not say this. This is what I think they might say.)
I give N a napkin to wipe his mouth and take a last gulp of lukewarm coffee. I look for my bill. Wasn’t it there a minute ago?
But as I stand to see if it dropped to the floor, the man who had made the joke addresses me.
“Miss,” he says. “I hope you don’t find this offensive, but I asked the waitress to bring me your bill.”
I am not good in surprise situations. I stand there like a deer in headlights.
Finally, “Oh no, that isn’t necessary. I’ve got it,” I say. Fake smile.
But his eyes meet mine and I realize that though we have different world views, he is not the monster I created.
I think all kinds of things right then. Does he feel sorry for me? Does he think I’d bring my kid to a restaurant I couldn’t afford? Does he think I’m a snowflake who can’t pay my bills?
Then he just says, “Please. I just need to do something kind today and you looked to me like a good person.”
All this time I was judging him, he thought I looked like a good person?
“Thank you,” I say. “God bless you.”
I tell N to wave and he flashes the man one of his million dollar smiles. I go home feeling humbled.
If we all stopped listening to the propaganda coming from both sides. If we stopped making assumptions about what “the other side” thinks. If we just did something kind for someone else each day for no reason at all. If we did that, we would still have disagreements and different world views, but our country would not be in danger. And we would once again be a nation indivisible.