Talking Politics

Talking Politics

The best time to talk politics with strangers is literally never. I have a job where I do a lot of sales and customer service, so I have to talk to strangers all day long. I typically enjoy learning about other people’s lives and, sometimes, I even enjoy hearing their opinions. However, there are several topics that everyone should avoid. The most important topic to avoid, especially right now, is politics.

I live in Florida, AKA “God’s Waiting Room.” I am literally surrounded by retirement communities and senior centers. In almost every public place I visit I am the youngest by 30 to 40 years. I love the age gap. I think older people are more fun! I love that super old people say whatever they want, and do whatever they want. It makes me jealous of their freedom.

But, right now we live in a time of political chaos. The elections are coming up, and Lord only knows, it is just going to get worse. The old people want Trump, and the super young people want Sanders. So, all day long, between social media and real life, I am bombarded with politics.

Today, in particular, I was bombarded about Trump. We have one client at work who only likes to talk to me. He’s a sweet older man in his mid-80s. He lives alone, and probably has been widowed for years. His daughter’s name is Kim, and he tells me that every conversation. Today, he decided to strike up a conversation about politics that I was not prepared to hear.  

“Did you know Trump is going to fix everything? Ask your dad or your husband. They’ll know.”

Now, keep in mind, I was in a professional setting and could not reply to this man the way I truly wanted to. I had to sit there and listen to this old man spew off sexist and racist remarks for a full 16 minutes. My mind wandered. I thought about a little angelic Hillary or Bernie on one shoulder, and a tiny devil Trump on the other. Trump would be telling me how I should engage in an angry political debate, while Bernie and Hillary would be telling me not to react and remain professional. I continued to take the sexist rant and kept silent for the remainder of the phone call.

With the emergence of the angel and devil figures on my shoulders, I also wondered who else was hearing a political rant from a near stranger. Granted, this man was in his mid-80s, but still. It is never a good idea to talk politics with a stranger. Everyone should know that. I used to enjoy talking to this cute old man, but now I know how he truly feels. In fact, I’m shocked that whenever he calls me, he doesn’t ask for a man to help him.

It is never okay to talk politics with strangers, because we never want to hear it. Nobody does. And now that I know how this old man feels about the state of our country, females, and “foreigners,” etc., I’ll never be able to think of him as I once did: a sweet old man.

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Kimberly Sides
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