There are many things that I enjoy about working around people. I like being helpful when people have questions, giving folks a little extra hand when their schedule is a bit crazy, and sometimes acting as a sounding board when life is a little interesting. That last one can be the source of unnecessary drama.
A week ago I had a somewhat regular customer come into the store. I said hello, made inquiries regarding is job, and then went back to reading comic books. After he had asked about a certain title, I rang him up and thought our one-on-one time was pretty much complete. I did not suspect that this individual had not heard the proper Sara Bareilles song.
He stated that his wife had asked him to choose between collecting comics and collecting guns. Apparently he’s a keeper of many things. Now, I personally hate guns. However, the law as it stands allows for people to embrace their second amendment rights. So I keep my views to myself. The man likes comics; I like comics; that is enough for us to have a respectable customer-clerk relationship. We do not have to agree on everything.
He went on about the type of guns he had, including a German rifle that had a Nazi swastika on it and how, “the only way to get one was to kill a soldier and bring it back as a trophy.”
Again, I find this sort of thing distasteful. As a pacifist, I am against killing people and I am certainly against having trophies of such events. However, he was not threatening me and there was no one else in the store. He seemed to think this was an appropriate venue to voice his opinions. Comic books tend to be against censorship, so I let him continue in his tirade with a, “to each his own” vibe.
Then it got worse.
“If Hillary takes office, my guns will be worth more.” “I hate all politicians, they’re all liars.” “I really don’t want her to be President.” “I don’t blame Clinton; if I was married to that bitch, I’d be getting a blow job too.” “I don’t want a woman in charge.”
I can feel my jaw tightening at the memory of it. I may have paraphrased a line or two, but most of those statements were exactly what he said. To say that he and I have different views on women would be correct. Regardless, after embracing the second amendment, he was plowing right on through to the first.
At this part in the “conversation” (he went for a solid two or three minute rant with no words from me. I counted. Either listen closely to his diatribe or count the seconds? Believe me, I counted.), I started to feel that my feelings for women might just overshadow my feelings on free speech.
There were a myriad of things I wanted to proclaim. That women are paid less and have to suffer childbirth. That women are expected to be more attractive and youthful. That most of my close friends are females. That I was thrilled when Supergirl came to TV and when they announced Ant-Man and Wasp. That no woman should be called “bitch”. That this guy had no problem calling Bill Clinton by his last name, but would not afford the same courtesy to Hillary Clinton (You don’t know them personally. Either use their full name, last name only, or throw a Mr/Mrs in there.). I could fill several paragraphs, but let us simply state that I was I opposition to his stance.
“Women are all crazy, right?”
That was my cue. “All” includes my friends. “All” means you have officially insulted my people, and it is on.
“My friends are pretty great. All of my closest friends are female.”
“Well, okay, maybe not all, but of all the women I’ve come across…”
“And all my bosses are female. I have no problem with females being in charge. My boss here is female.”
“Yeah <cue back-pedaling>, I’ve met her and she seems nice.”
“But you know what I mean. I mean, I’m married. But there are a lot of crazies out there.”
“I like females just fine.”
Thus began his rant on female cops. How women in power were trouble. How all the women officers that had pulled him over were bitches that had given him attitude; the power had gone to their head. Except for one trooper, but that might have just been because she was hot. The others weren’t. The unattractive ones had all been bitches.
I was conflicted. I felt like perhaps I was not doing enough to confront this person. When I asked my transgendered friend what I could do to help her, she specifically requested that I keep people from making jokes. That if someone was to come along making jokes about gender identity or those areas, that I make a point to say, “That’s not cool.”
Was I resisting enough? I may have nodded along during his outburst, but I want to think I walked the line between polite and protesting. He had his views on the topic, I had mine, and I did not concede after I had made my rebuttal. Does that count as a victory?
I think of the parable about the line of hostages. Paraphrasing here; they came for the Democrats, and I said nothing. They came for the Republicans, and I said nothing. They came for the gays, and I said nothing. They came for the women, and I said nothing. Then they came for me, and there was no one left to speak up for me.
Did I sin by silence? “All that is required for evil to win is for good men to do nothing.” Did I help out the bad guys by not fighting back more?
Fortunately for this story, a teenager came into the store. Ranting to a person who is paid to be there is one thing; ranting in front of a second stranger makes an audience. He had more or less wrapped up though, and I think he left without feeling like scum while still understanding that I did not agree. If he returns and brings it up again, my plan is to reply with, “I do not agree with your views on women.” Simple, non-confrontational, and factual. I hope that suffices.
There is one more area that regret. When something bothers me, I like to vent about it to one person and then move on. Turn the bleed valve, let out that little spurt of air, and then close it back up. Well, the next person that I saw was my boss. She never comes in on her day off, but she did last week. I vented. I told her some of the statements that I mentioned above. I tried to tell her that the identity of the person didn’t matter. But she said she wanted to know. And when God puts someone in authority over you, you have an obligation to respect that authority. I tried not to identify the man, but eventually I did. Now her view of that person is colored.
Did I set out to wreck her opinion of him? No. Did I lie? No. Did I fabricate anything or change what he said? Once again, no. But my speaking up might affect how she treats this person. If I could take that part back, I like to think that I would.
The whole affair was not the highlight of my day. I hope this fellow comes across more women like the ones I know. Maybe if surrounded by the kind of impressive females that I associate with, he will change his views. Or, maybe I am casting my pearls before swine.
At least one good thing came out of the debacle. It reminded me that I should keep telling my lady friends how much I value and respect them. I did that to someone on Tuesday and they were quite appreciative. Our relationship might even be stronger because I let her to know that she was important to me.
I still would have had a happier day in the shop without that fellow, but perhaps there is a way to take that experience and make things better. Should the interactions we have with those that vex us serve to remind us how much we care for those we love? Someone wiser than me will have to take up their soapbox and let me know.