My sisters and I were sitting in a booth in a popular breakfast place. Our conversation turned to the topic that seems most on everyone's minds these days--the exploits of the Current Occupant and his mostly-absent family. Being left-leaning types, we were expressing displeasure about the amount of money the taxpayers have been required to shell out to keep the Emperor and Empress in the lifestyle to which they are accustomed.
Somewhere in the middle of our meal, the party at the booth behind us finished their breakfast and got up to leave. Whereupon a white, 65-ish male member of the group stopped at our table, leaned over and said with a smirk:
"I couldn't help overhearing your conversation. And I wanted to ask...do you ladies ever discuss anything intelligent?"
I suppose anyone who reads my verbose yet mostly well-reasoned political rants on Facebook or here on this blog would think I proceeded to give the gentleman an earful of progressive debate, generously peppered with colorful language.
But, no... Taken aback as I was, I at least retain some vestiges of a sense of courtesy and decorum...which told me that this was neither the time nor the place to make a scene.
I looked him in the eye for a couple of seconds, and said very slowly and clearly:
"Ummmm... GO AWAY."
And, with his smirk still plastered on his face, he straightened up and kept walking.
So there it is. The incident that gives the lie to my carefully manufactured belief of immunity from the ugliness and rudeness in which the USA is drowning.
But at its core, this is more a manifestation of our culture's utter abandonment of courtesy--just the basic damn manners our mothers taught us before we went to pre-school--than it is a demonstration of the gaping political divisions between us.
Suddenly, it's not only ok to eavesdrop on a stranger's conversation, but you can and should feel free to make uninvited comments if the mood strikes you. Especially if your views are critical of the topic.
Yes, I know the Current Occupant rode the wave of exactly that sort of behavior to victory last November. And his presence in the White House seems to have conferred a blanket blessing to its continuance and escalation.
But the condition existed well before Trump ever gave a thought to political spectacle.
Snarkness is in. Rudeness is strength. Winners don't NEED to be polite.
From there, it's a short leap to hatred and contempt.
A leap, I'm afraid, too many of us have already made.