Monday, July 1, 2019

Don’t ask, don’t tell: A conflict of patriotism

I’m going to confess something.  As much I write about Trump (or his GOP minions) here, which really isn’t that much, I keep a pretty low profile in my non-online life.   There are people I see or talk to on occasion, people I live with.  I don’t ask questions about their politics, I don’t share mine, it’s easier to keep the peace.

Unfortunately, others can’t do the same.  All I know is, it usually doesn’t work in my favor.

A couple of weekends ago, I ran into Liz downstairs, one of the other residents here who sits in the lobby regularly with a book.  In the last few months we’ve become friends of sorts.  I don’t think we have a lot in common, but we were born in the same year and share that. 

Anyway, when she saw me she asked how my tmj was doing (she’s the one person here I’ve shared that with) and told me the mail hadn’t come yet but our new mailman is delivering early now, he should be here any minute.  I told her I was just going for a morning walk to warm my sore face and stretch my legs, and for a moment I felt guilty after saying it.

It’s difficult for Liz to get around.  She hobbles about with a cane, the type with 4 little legs at the bottom.  (She told me her lower vertebra is fused to her hip, how is that possible?)  She asked if I was going to be passing Kuhn’s Market and could I pick her up a box of teabags.  When I returned and handed Liz her tea, she thanked me and asked how much she owed me.  I said “Ohhh.. fifteen and change, let’s just say fifteen.”  Without missing a beat, she asked if I had change for a twenty.  (The woman who was sitting beside her on the settee... her expression was priceless!)

After the other woman left, Liz asked if I got an email from Steiner (our building’s management) stating that non-residents are not permitted to loiter in front of the building and if it continues, there’d be repercussions.  I said yes I got it, and she asked if I’d seen any of these non-residents.  I said no, at least not when I’m out there loitering.  When she asked what I thought the repercussions would be, I said they may get kicked out of their non-apartments.  We shared a good laugh over that. 

It was right around then that Carl (an older man who lives on the first floor, very polite but never says a word) entered the lobby, tipped his hat towards Liz, nodded to me and headed out.  His hat was one of those bright red MAGA caps.   Liz said “Did you see his hat?”   I said yes, and added I should wear my cap when I go out too, I’m probably going to get sunstroke.  She said “Do you own one of those Trump caps?”  I said omigosh no, mine’s from UPMC.  She asked if I was a Trump supporter, I screwed up my face a little and said not exactly.

She said “You’re not one of those Trump haters are you?”

I stood there for a moment, unsure of what to say.  I was tempted to come up with something phony or glib, but I said yes and I didn’t understand how anyone could not be. 

She said “Well, you can’t blame him for everything.”  I said I could.  She asked me if I watched a lot of news.  I said yes, probably too much.  But I read Trump’s tweets too, they’re frightening and asinine. 

Liz said she didn’t know about any of that (of course she doesn’t) but considered herself patriotic and was raised to stand behind our president no matter who it is.  She asked who I wanted to see win the next election, I said Kamala Harris.  She nodded her head but didn’t say anything.

As I felt the soreness in my face and lower right jaw tighten and burn (damn tmj!)  I told her I was going to head upstairs.  She went back to reading her book. 

That was a couple weeks ago, I haven’t seen her since.  Then this past weekend I went downstairs and saw her again in the lobby.  I said I was going grocery shopping, did she need a $20 loaf of bread or anything.  She didn’t look in my direction or smile or say a word, just shook her head no while staring out the front glass.  Another woman (don’t know her) came into the lobby then, and Liz said (to her) “Did you see where Steiner hung the American flag up outside?” 

The woman said “I think they do that every year for the Fourth” and Liz said “I wish they’d leave it up year ‘round.”  

Happy Fourth of July, Liz.


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