So I'm sitting in a teensy, noisy waiting room this morning with about 6-10 other people. Just where everyone wants to start their week, right? I find a seat, open my newspaper, and prepare to wait for an estimated 1 to 1-1/2 hours.
Most everyone was reading. Except for a salt 'n pepper-haired guy who was raving and foaming at the mouth about deficits, Obama this and Obama that. He was sitting next to a woman - you all know her. She's retired or close to retired. She's quiet, looks like she lets a lot of stuff go, and tries very hard to be nice in public. The guy appears to be looking at her while he goes on and on, but she never takes her eyes off her book and never responds to anything he says.
She isn't me.
After a minute (OK, maybe a New York minute) I put the paper down and tell him that he needs to be quiet. Find something to do - read a book. Because I am not going to spend the next hour listening to him rant about politics.
He jumps on my case, saying that he is having a nice conversation with this woman and if I don't like it I can leave. Go stand outside. He can talk if he wants to. He's pissed at the interruption, that's clear. The woman looks up, surprised, and then buries her eyes back into the book. She never says a word. Meanwhile the guy calls me "ignorant" and things like that. I respond by asking why he resorts to namecalling. He says that I'm defending Obama and I don't know what I'm talking about. I ask him just what I've said that would give him any idea about my political views at all. ZZZIP! I just asked him to quit ranting while I was trying to read the paper, nothing else. He couldn't answer, so he just said that "we'd just better wait until November."
The local news is on. The reporter talking about President Obama's trip to Afghanistan. Without missing much of a beat, the guy turns to the woman again and starts in about Obama going to Afghanistan. What a waste of money! He campaigned about getting out of all these wars, and here he is going to Afghanistan and continuing BOTH wars! The woman squeaked, "He inherited them." But that's all she said. The guy never missed a word, and I'm not sure he even heard what she said. He was VERY loud by this time. Well, he heard me.
I ALMOST took the bait with the whole "he campaigned on getting out of all these wars," but I didn't. I just said, "Conversation? Sounds more like a rant to me." And then the waiting room was graced with silence for the better part of an hour, until he left. He spent the rest of his time there twisting his hands in knots. It looked painful, and I smiled behind my paper.
When he left, the woman looked at me and said, "Boy, I just said the most innocent little thing and he just went off." We chatted a second or two. Then, we compared reading material. I'm reading Ted Kennedy's book, True Compass. This woman was reading a thick tome about Madame Chaing Kai-shek and politics after WWII. Definitely the smartest reading material in the joint.
So, a couple of points:
- Didn't your mother ever teach you not to talk religion and politics in public places? Good grief! What's wrong with Americans? There are so many things you could be talking about on a beautiful spring day! Find a neutral topic, please.
- Quit thinking the quiet woman gives one crap about how smart you think you are. As was the case this morning, she probably thinks you're the biggest asshole on the block.