Lately the Universe has been making it its business to thump the proverb “Never judge a man until you’ve walked a mile in his boots” into my head. The saying goes if you don’t heed the lesson, the lesson becomes harsher every time it manifests on this plane. Maybe the lesson had been going into one ear and out the other because yesterday’s version stunned me into silence.
Yesterday I was clomping home from work during a snow pour. It was the kind of pour in which you could shovel the sidewalk, and five minutes later, the sidewalk looked as if it had never been shoveled. Unwilling to trudge in several inches of the stuff by the park any longer, I cut across the street and chose a route that led me straight into the path of Mr. ?. I’ll call him Mr. ? because trying to hold a conversation with ? is like trying to make sense of the most nuckin’ futs of carnivals. He talks about 100 miles per hours, leaping from topic to topic, until the audience can’t get a word in (but maybe that’s the point of having an audience).Because my moon is in Gemini, I can get as gabby as anyone — except Mr. ?
Mr. ? saw me, and in a burst of speed, shoveled the snow from my path.
“Oh, thank you.” I smiled and tried to hurry in order to avoid a conversation with Mr. ?. Now I don’t want to give you the impression that Mr. ? is some stumblebum who has nothing better to do than decorate the sidewalks with the corpses of dead animals (believe me, we had one of those twisted fucks in this neighborhood, and there is no way in Hell I’ll walk a mile in those weird ass boots). Mr. ? is heavily involved in his children’s education and remains determined to put his children through college. On a given day, you may mistake him for a working class grunt but ha! On the way to work last autumn, hubby and I spotted Mr. ?, dressed nearly to the nines, stepping from an obscenely expensive car. He headed for his house, which lay in a stage of remodeling. Any homeowner will tell you remodeling a house can put you into the poor house at astonishing speed. From a past conversation with the guy and clues, we gathered that Mr. ? came from a well-heeled family. Unfortunately for him, Mr. ?’s choice of lovers didn’t mesh with his daddy’s idea of a daughter- in- law. Apparently, some rich daddies kick their sons off the bankroll if said sons bring home the wrong choice of potential mates.
Anyway, Mr. ? decided to invite himself on a stroll with me. Once again, it became a battle to stay abreast of the conversation which progressed from a gentle, polite inquiry of my son’s health to a less sunshine-y memory of his high school days to a more vindictive tone toward his high school principal. I gasped when he repeated a term used for his old principal (later that evening, when I told my husband about the conversation, my hubby revealed the principal had been despised by a great many folks). My mouth was still hanging open when Mr. ? expressed his views on immigration. His choice of words stunned me into silence. I would like to lie and tell you that I countered with “Well, maybe the immigrants will be offered a living wage, and they will pay taxes. The taxes may be used to fund universities or social programs.” Unless, of course, they take a cue from those Americans who do not pay taxes. Rather than offering a conflicting viewpoint, I stood with wide eyes. How could he express such prejudice when he himself was punished due to his father’s prejudice (and probably would still be punished had not Daddy Darling kicked off). How could a man who was nice enough to shovel the snow from my path spout out such venom? Didn’t he realize that he was a descendant of immigrants? It’s amazing how people tend to forget this bit of United States history in the argument over immigration.
What is the point of this tale? Recently I posted a less than favorable opinion of people who did not speak out against hate. Yesterday, rather than speak out, I stood with a “Not only are you fuckin’ nuts, but you’re a bigot as well” look on my face. In this case, the lesson was how can you point out what others are doing — or not doing — when you’re doing — or not doing — the same thing? Not that I see the merit of freezing my ass off in a snowstorm, arguing about immigration.
The lesson I learned (not that it will stick)? The best I can do is try to be a little less judgmental — and hope I have better luck in choosing a path home.