The woman next to me works for FEMA. She is employed by the government but hates the direction our country is going. She has all the talking points down – Obamacare, cap and trade, socialist agendas. She’s proud of her Hungarian ancestry and worried that American dissenters will be shuffled off into death camps and torture chambers in the all to near future.
She tells me all of this as if I surely agree. As if I hadn’t contacted my congressmen encouraging them to pass healthcare reform. As if I thought Beck and Limbaugh were the greatest Patriots since Mel Gibson in the Patriot.
I nod, wondering if she could see disagreement on my face or how my eyes have glossed over. And then I go into self-defense mode. I do what everyone should do when confronted with this situation.
I started to ask about her life. I try to find some level of connection on a personal level because there definitely isn’t any to be had on a political level.
She was married for decades. Her husband wouldn’t allow her to have a job. She got a divorce. Her husband never thought she would make it on her own, but she got this job with FEMA and travels the country helping people cope with disasters. Whether in her professional or personal life she helps people. She relays stories of immigrants, single moms, and mascara-still-running widows. She talks about her passion of helping the poor. She quotes Mother Teresa. She criticizes the wealthy.
She kind of sounds like a “socialist” but I don’t point that out.
I rarely talk politics or religion, especially with strangers. I’m always amazed that people like this woman, who is in her 60s and ought to know better, do.
I do, however, talk people. I wish more of us could move beyond regurgitated talking points and strict ideologies and connect on the personal level.
This woman’s politics turned my stomach, but her story warmed my heart. When we deplaned, I could’ve given her a hug.