Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Silence is the best response to a fool

The plumber, a tall, meaty man with a ruddy complexion arrived at 9:30 as promised.
We made the usual smalltalk and I led him to the kitchen.  On the countertop, he spotted a book that clearly piqued his interest.

He crouched down and inspected the leaking pipe under the cabinet. 
“That’s an interesting book you’re reading….I would have thought you voted for that Obama person”, he said beaming with obvious pleasure.  “I just hate that man,” he continued.  
“Oh…well… I don’t hate anyone,” I interrupted hoping to discourage conversation, but he was just getting started.
He stood up, yanking  his slouching trousers at the waist.  
“He has absolutely ruined this country….We used to be up here”, he said waving his hand above his head, “Now, since he’s been in office, we’re down here.”  He lowered his hand below his knees.  
“Goes to show what I know,” I offered, “They complained about his use of drones and his kill list or whatever it was and he was the President that finally killed Osama Bin Laden…. I thought he was kickin’ ass.”
“Bulllshit,” he retorted apologizing for his language, “He’s a Muslim!…he ain’t trying to kill his brothers…they say he’s in the Muslim Brotherhood.”
“I haven’t kept up,“ I lied.  “I thought he was a Christian…remember his minister Reverend Wright?”  He pursed his lips, squinted his eyes in an effort to recall.  I continued, “they said he was a member of that congregation for twenty years….it was that church in Chicago where he and Michelle were married…..“you remember,”  I insisted,  “he was the one that said “God damn America.”
“That quack,” he huffed.  “That was just another one of Obama’s many lies.  He sat up in that church pretending to be a Christian when all the time he was a Muslim.  He just went there so he could win elections….Shit, he might even be a member of Isis for all I know.”






I wanted to tell him how many Muslims there are in the world.  I wanted to ask what difference it made what religion Obama was.  I wanted to know if he knew the religions of Bush and Clinton and Nixon, but I said nothing, preferring to simply let him repair my plumbing and be gone.

He laid down and squeezed into the cabinet beneath the sink.  He continued to talk as he worked.
Yeah”, he said loudly, “he was the biggest sinner we’ve ever had in office.”
“What religion are you,” I asked.
“Me, I’m Catholic….been Catholic all my life.”
I thought to myself that by his standard that meant he was a pedophile.

He finished beneath the sink and stood to check for leaks.
“You’re good to go,” he announced.
I gave him my credit card.  
“I don’t charge no taxes,” he chuckled.  “It’s my way of getting back some of what he took.”
“But, I thought he extended the Bush tax-cuts, “ I suggested.  “Which I didn’t think he should have done, but…”
He cut me off.  
“Hillary Clinton started that lie....You know,” he continued, “I planted myself a garden in my back yard….you know, tomatoes, peppers, green onions…stuff like that.  Trying to save a little on my grocery bill.  Then I found out that damned Michelle Obama was going to tax my garden…ain’t that a bitch,”  he exclaimed.  “I turned it all under…Couldn’t have shit under those people.
“Well, things are about to change drastically,”  I offered.
“Damn straight”, he bragged. “Trump will get us back on track….Some people are mad about his Muslim ban, but the reason he’s doing that is because Obama let anybody in this country who wanted to come.”
“Well, I’m confused because they called Obama the deporter-in-chief.”  I offered hinting at sarcasm.  “I thought they called him that because of his deportation policies.”
“Naw, could’na been, cause he let every Muslim and Mexican come who wanted to…like we didn’t have borders.”  He waved his hand in a sweeping motion, “Just come on in.”
I wanted to tell him that President Obama had deported more undocumented immigrants than any president since Eisenhower.   That even Obama’s Aunt and Uncle had been caught in the deportation net.  I wanted him to know the countries Trump targeted were the very same countries Obama had identified for enhanced vetting.  I wanted to tell him that thus far Trump had simply been following the leader, President Obama, and  seemed devoid of an original thought he could call his own and neither had deportation policies to be proud of,  but I didn’t. 

His credit machine jammed and wouldn’t print my receipt.
“That’s okay”, I said.  “It’ll show up on my bill.”
“Oh no”,  he insisted.  “I have to give you a receipt.”  He continued to talk as he fiddled with the machine.  “You know all them illegals crossing the border is the reason Trump wants to build a wall…and he’ll get one too.”
“Maybe they’re just coming home,” I said.  I was becoming annoyed.
He balked.  “Home!?”
I said, “well, you know Texas, Arizona, New Mexico, California, Nevada, Utah and half of Colorado were Mexico before the American occupation that triggered the Mexican American War.”
He gave me my receipt and stood there, thoughtful for just a moment.  
“Then we kicked their asses on the other side of the river and that’s where they need to stay.”
I opened the door, inviting him to leave.  
“Thank you for coming so promptly,”  I said.
“Anytime,” he said.  “Just one last thing…can I take a picture of that book.  I’d like to order one for myself.”
He took a picture with his cellphone.  


by David King






He grinned.  


“I’ll have my book to keep my spirits up….I can’t thank you enough.”
I closed the door, displeased with myself that I’d not engaged in a real conversation with him.  It was Nelson Mandela who said, “Fools multiply when wise men are silent.”  Not that I was wise, but I at least knew a few facts I could have shared.  Maybe I could have changed his opinions, at lease gotten him to think about them.  Then I remembered the simple, inspiring advice of Elizabeth Barrett Browning, “Silence is the best response to a fool.”

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