I Thought We Could Be Friends
I’ve known this woman for about a year. I always thought she was simply disinterested in politics. After all, she owned a sex toys shop in a deep red part of Arizona. How could she be an uptight Republican bigot when her business depended on people who were more progressive and open minded about sex and sexuality? At the same time, being in a deep red area, I assumed she kept her views to herself so as not to antagonize potential customers. Well, you know that saying about “Assume?”
She was telling me about an upcoming costume party to which she planned to wear a Hillary Clinton mask and her boyfriend would be Trump. A customer piped up that she couldn’t stand the sight of Trump. My acquaintance then proclaimed she “couldn’t stand Joe Biden because he’s so old.” When I pointed out that Trump is just as old, she deflected by accusing Biden of having opened the southern border, allowing hordes of illegal immigrants to enter the country. I parried by asking how many jobs she had lost to an illegal immigrant over the past 20 years. She deflected again complaining her daughter couldn’t find a good paying job with health care because so much government funding was used for illegals. I pointed out that providing universal healthcare was a cornerstone of Democrats’ platform, that Republicans would accuse her daughter of being just too lazy and uneducated. That didn’t go over well as she accused me of attacking her daughter. I decided she was not someone who could be my friend.
I’m glad I learned about this person before I invested much more time and effort into being a friend. A small part of me says I shouldn’t discard potential friends simply because they’re not very bright but a much larger part of me says it’s too wearing, both mentally and physically, to navigate around the hidden hazards of a demented mind. I’m sure this woman has redeeming qualities but, in reflecting on previous discussions with her, I realize we’ve never had a substantive conversation. Her life revolves around partying and having a good time.
I try to always take away some lessons from such situations. From this exchange, I resolved to always assess the potential ROI of any interaction before expending too much time and effort. There just wasn’t enough positive return for me to continue this acquaintance. I recently walked away from a guy who had been my gardener/handyman for several years when I heard him blasting out a nonsense religious sermon from his cellphone as he worked. Normally, I just ignore things like that but not when he’s on my property, doing work for me. I told him religion was bullshit and the root of all evil. The following week, his truck “miraculously” blew an engine gasket and he informed me he could no longer work for me. I was glad to part ways with someone who was so stupid as to believe his religious tripe would protect us from rightwing religious nut cases who would drive the country into a civil war.
Tip-toeing around topics that might trigger nutcases is just too much work. I once did that for several months while working at a company where one of the senior managers at my level was prone to flying off the handle for no apparent reason. Several employees worried the guy was a serial killer in training. Today, we would call him a mass shooter candidate. Bottom line, not every acquaintance is worth the time and effort. Many times, it’s better to just walk away.