I Met A Crazy Nutjob…Just Like Me.
Stereotypes often have an unmistakable truth that just begs to be proven false. I was at a Big Box hardware store looking at a display of drawer pulls. Up walks this man who stands beside of me and begins browsing as well. He had shaggy gray hair with a nappy beard, clashing service uniform style shirt and pants and old ragged sneakers. The laughable clincher was the Sony Walkman style mono headphone with a giant microphone that wrapped around over his mouth.
My first thought was “run away” but I was on my lunch hour and needed to finish my errand. Sure enough, he starts mumbling and cursing to himself. I was the only one on the aisle and knew I was going to be sucked into a conversation whether I wanted to be or not. Finally, he turns and faces me, lifts his microphone so that it is now over the top of his head, and says “you know why there are no jobs around here?”
“Great!” I thought. “Another ignorant Teabagger is going to try and educate me on macroeconomics and the constitutionality of globalization by reciting Koch Brothers/Republican talking points heard on FOX News.
He continued: “Back when Nixon was in charge, that liar Jessie Helms helped passed legislation that allowed foreign tobacco companies to shred their tobacco before importing it and claim that it was scrap and therefore non-taxable. How could RJR compete with that?”
I was a bit shocked as he continued with well thought out statistics regarding Chinese made products and distribution agreements that excluded small American companies from having their products in big box stores. He continued from there to discuss Christianity in politics and how Jesus would condemn Republicans because they only care about “Killing and Money.” From there he discussed the possibility of Christ being married and quoted verses from the Bible and the Lost Gospels that supported his claim. He stated that “King Jimmy” translated the Bible in a way that would keep the power at the top of an oligarchy and out of the hands of the common man. He questioned the Church which led him to do independent research, which is what the Church actually asks Christians to do. “I’m a damned progressive liberal and proud of it” he said.
I was stunned.
He then told me his life tale of building houses, owning a trucking company, and upon retiring, holding a leadership position in his Methodist Church (the one he says “that idiot Glenn Beck” is actually targeting for their social justice). I chimed in about my visits to a Methodist Church in the town where I reside and a discussion ensued where upon I discovered…
…that he built my house.
And he built it with local labor and materials. He used techniques and processes that went well beyond code. That made me feel really, really good about my home for so many different reasons. After an hour, we said our goodbyes and he flipped his microphone back down (an original cell phone attachment that is a holdover from his days a truck driver because back then he knew that hands-free was safer), and walked off to find the rest of the “Chinese crap that pollutes this country” that was on his list of items needed for his rental properties.
Here was a man I assumed was an ignorant follower of conservative mass media, false ideals and idols, who instead could be me in 30 years. He had worked hard and done very well for himself all while helping others and providing for his community. He had lived by example, not by hollow words…just as the Son of Man had asked him to do.
It was just another reminder of how we should be accepting of people regardless of their outward appearance. We may just be seeing ourselves and our place within humanity.