Monday, May 21, 2007

20/20 hindsight, or people you meet while standing in line

I went out to brunch with my DH (dear husband) yesterday morning. I was still kind of foggy and my voice was croaking from talking so much--and doing my share of cheering--at the Convention yesterday. We were at our fave brunching hole, Mel's in Cochituate, standing on the inevitable line.

I was telling DH about the resolutions that were voted on Saturday, reading from my notes in my agenda, and the woman in front of us kept turning around and looking at us. Not with any particular expression. I lowered my voice a little in case that was the hint she was trying to deliver, but she kept turning around to look, or stare, at us as I segued from the Resolution to the Housing Crisis into the Impeach Cheney-amended-to-Impeach both Bush and Cheney.

So I smiled at her. She smiled back and looked away.

Then I told DH about the troop withdrawal resolution, and she commented, not quietly enough to act the "I'll pretend to be talking to myself" ruse, "I hope it doesn't pass."

I said, pleasantly, "What?" then added, "Polls show that the majority of Americans are in favor of ending the war."
Well that set her off in a tizzy: she doesn't believe in the polls; that they don't include the "silent majority" who support the war; that there are a lot of people who lost loved ones in 9/11 . . .

I interjected, still pleasantly, that there's no connection between 9/11 and Iraq.

She said, very emphatically and implying that she KNOWS everything, "Yes there is."

I paused, different possible replies flipping through my head like an old Viewmaster, and said, with a big smile, "Oh, you're one of the 25 percenters! It's a pleasure to meet you."

She smiled and said that it was a pleasure to meet me as well.

The line moved up and she crept inside. So I went back to talking to DH, who commented that that 25 percenter was nuts, which just proved a point I had made yesterday to the people I was carpooling with, that the 25 percent who still believe are actually one lightbulb shy of a full box.

So we finally get inside, and in order to not be in the uncomfortable position of standing at the door, which means constantly moving back and forth as people enter and exit, I had to move to a space in front of a banquette, where people on line were sitting. Including Ms. 25 percenter. I said to everyone that I wasn't cutting in line, I just wanted to get out of the way.

When Sam (name changed to protect the innocent) came down the line finding out how many people were in each party, Ms. 25 percenter got up and moved in front of us, giving us a smug look.

I said, "Don't worry, we weren't going to cut ahead of you."

She snapped back, "I will worry," and turned her back on us in a huff. A couple of minutes later she walked out of the line to go outside.

I wondered if she just couldn't bear being next to us. And the fact that she didn't trust that we wouldn't cut in front of her bothered me more than any other part of our exchange. In her world, were liberals not only unbelievers but lacking in common courtesy? And I had been so pleased with myself for keeping things polite.

She came back and placed herself in the big gap in the line we had left for her, with a smug smile on her face.

After we got back home I checked my e-mail. Someone had sent a suspiciously myth-y looking story about "Red Shirt Fridays." Being the irrevocable geek that I am, I thought it was going to be a funny story about the expendable ensigns. It was, instead, a heartwarming story about an airline passenger who sat across a first-class aisle from a Marine sergeant who was escorting the body of a fallen soldier home that segued into the story of "Red Shirt Fridays".
Very soon, you will see a great many people wearing Red every Friday . The reason? Americans who support our troops used to be called the "silent majority." We are no longer silent, and are voicing our love for God, country and home in record breaking numbers. We are not organized, boisterous or overbearing.
Many Americans, like you, me and all our friends, simply want to recognize that the vast majority of America supports our troops. Our idea of showing solidarity and support for our troops with dignity and respect starts this Friday -- and continues each and every Friday until the troops all come home, sending a deafening message that .... every red-blooded American who supports our men and women afar, will wear something red.

I expect Ms. 25 percenter was also on the receiving end of that e-mail, which whipped her up into a fine frothing frenzy about all those war-opposers who (obviously) hate the troops and cut in front of people in lines. While I couldn't talk back to Ms. 25 percenter, I did write back to everyone on the e-mail list:
I'm not quite sure what is meant by those who "support our troops are the silent majority." Hmmm . . . according to every poll, the majority of Americans are against the war. So does this message indicate that those who oppose the war are against the troops? It seems to me that those in power who support the war are clearly not supporting the troops: the troops don't have enough safety equipment, their families don't get enough support, there's not enough medical care for vets, the administration doesn't want to add .5% to the paltry 3% raise that has been suggested as a soldier's pay raise, and our troops are being treated like robots--rotated constantly and deployed indefinitely.

No matter how hard we try, no matter how many times we tell the truth, no matter how many times we put action behind our visions, we'll always be the ones who can't be trusted to honor the unspoken rule of queues. How did we get to be the pickpockets of American democracy? I suppose I shouldn't think too much about this, since our experiment proved that the 25 percent believers are not living in the reality-based community. I just don't like to see that kind of hate and craziness seen as being mainstream.