Today, K cut my hair, in her little shop in a nearby suburban strip mall. The usual pleasantries about family, weather, vacations. Then a few questions about politics. What do I think about President Obama and Mitt Romney? We had discussed a little politics, casually, in the past: what did I think about the Affordable Care Act, and similar topical stuff? I had no clue where this would end up, but I got a couple of pleasant little surprises before my hair was finished. Follow me below the fold!
K is a very nice middle-aged mother and grandmother, a few years younger than I am, I suppose. She has been cutting my family's hair (mine, my wife's, my son's) for several years. She owns a little shop with three or four chairs, where women and men can get their hair, nails, etc. done. She does a nice job, manages her calendar so I don't have to wait, and her prices are reasonable.
K is a naturalized citizen, originally from Cambodia. English is not her first language, but she makes herself understood.
Today, as she has done a few times in the past, she brought up politics. I didn't think too much about it, but then she asked me who I was voting for. I asked her which office she wanted to know about. For president, she replied. I told her I was voting for Obama. She told what she thought of the president and the job he was doing. She said that he has a lot of problems to solve, rattling off a few. I said, "Yeah, just look at how his hair color has changed in the past four years." I didn't need to point that out: a hairdresser notices these things.
She said that it takes a long time to solve problems like an economic crash, and that Obama was really trying hard. She made it clear that Obama had really connected with his remarks in the 2nd debate about Romney's 47%, how hard they work and how much they contribute. I could tell she took it personally, identifying Obama's remarks with her situation, and that of her family and friend's. "I work really hard," she said, a couple of times, with some emotion behind it.
Then she said that she and her husband had recently re-registered to vote. She had not been registered in 2008. As she has gotten older, she said, she has thought more about what part she wants to play in our country. She said, "I don't know much about politics." To learn more, she will go through Oregon's voter's pamphlet and read all the candidate and ballot measure information.
She said that "95%" of her clients are voting for Obama. Only two exceptions that she knows about, people voting for Romney.
K made it clear that she is going to vote for Obama.
Well, K, I am touched and awed by your pride in your citizenship, and how seriously you are taking it, by the additional effort you are putting in while working "really hard". By your emerging understanding of your role as a citizen in our democracy, and of the society's obligations to our citizens.
I only hope that I always deserve such neighbors!