I had an experience the other day that made me very sad, both for myself and for the future of our country (and this was before Charlottesville).
I was in the parking lot at the Sequim Safeway. Deborah and I had come up from Seattle after a day at work. That meant I was a little dressed up; nothing fancy but in city business attire. I was driving our fairly new Subaru Outback. We had our bicycles with us; two skinny-tired road bikes hanging off the rack on the back.
With the bikes on, the car takes up more than one parking spot – the bikes hang out too much to fit in one. So, I parked the car across the lines so it wouldn’t intrude into someone else’s slot. But it was a slow day and there were lots of empty spaces.
As I was walking back out of the store and approaching the car, a pickup truck pulled up. It was an older, smaller truck that was a little dusty and beat up. There was a full-sized American flag flying from a flagpole in the bed. A young man – I’d guess around 20 – was driving. He had on a camouflage trucker’s cap, a working-man’s jacket, and had the kind of light beard that 20-something men are wearing these days. He stopped beside me and with a cold look and an angry voice yelled “Hey! You know you are taking up two spots!” I didn’t respond. He stomped on the gas and took off, flag flying.
What makes me sad is that this had nothing to do with me taking up two spots in the Safeway parking lot on a summer afternoon. If I had been driving a 4-wheeler and pulling a fishing boat, he wouldn’t have said a thing, except maybe asked about the boat. Instead, what he thought he saw was a stuck-up urban Yuppie acting like he owned the place and not following the rules. He looked at me as if the gulf between us was as wide as the Strait. My existence bothered him.
But his existence didn’t bother me. I’m the first generation in my family to be born is a hospital and to come home to indoor plumbing. This young man didn’t know that when I was his age, I drove a beat up Ford Falcon and worked in a hot, miserable factory. I liked, and like, muscle cars and loud music and fishing. I had, and have, friends across the social and financial spectrum. I love the Peninsula, just like he does. If that young man met me for a beer and a conversation, he would have found that we had a lot in common. Except these days, that conversation will never happen.
How did that gulf get so wide? How do we move forward as a country when we see the world as “us” and “them,” or even worse: “us” vs. “them?”
I’m not your enemy, my young could-be-friend. I want your life to be good just as much as you want it to be good. But we are going to have to trust each other to understand each other.
No comments yet. Be the first to leave a comment.