I work in an office populated by political people, the majority of whom prefer their chairs roll only to the right.
And, then there’s me.
Clinton was still in office when I started this job. Those were the salad days…
Other than a few last-minute shenanigans for which he reportedly employed official pardons and office equipment to, in essence, give his successor the finger, my office-mates had little to complain about.
Political discussions, many of them heated, became more the norm after Bush took office and particularly after he made the decision to invade Iraq. They reached such a fever pitch, in fact, that administration mandated they stop. And they did, forcing those so inclined to perfect the use of loaded questions and pointed barbs as a means to draw political blood.
“What do you think about Donald Trump running for president?”
I studied the face of the asker for signs of sarcasm and/or levity, finding neither in her blank stare.
“I don’t know…”, I started, hoping she’d take the bait and declare her position.
“I saw him on Entertainment Tonight last night! He’s got some good ideas!”, she gushed around the hook.
I leaned back in my chair and focused on attaining the same level of blank upon my face as that with which she’d greeted me.
“Really? Like what?”
As I spoke, my mind flashed back to an earlier conversation in which she had detailed Gary Busey’s firing from “The Apprentice”. So she knows, I thought. She knows, and she’d vote for him anyway. Despite my efforts, I felt a twitch begin in the crow’s feet surrounding my left eye.
“Well, like Afghanistan. He said in the old days, when we declared war on a country, we just went in and took over. He wants to do that in Afghanistan!”
“It’s not really that easy, you know?” Only conscious effort kept the “Mommy” out of my voice.
She was silent for two beats before dragging her sneakered toe across hopelessly unattractive institutional carpet.
“Yeah….”, she managed to mumble, deflated.
My “smartphone” was impressed enough by Trump’s decision not to run that it alerted me immediately.
I, in turn, went to a different co-worker, who soon after declared she had never watched a single episode of “The Apprentice”.
“Trump’s decided not to run! Who will we vote for now?” My moan dripped with sarcasm.
Cora, a seventy-five-year-old woman who delights in telling people she’s known me for over forty years, turned in her chair.
“Well it sure as hell won’t be Newt Gingrich!”, she nearly shouted. “Can you believe he’s running?” Many more sentences followed before she ended with, “I mean he’s obviously a very smart man but he just can’t keep his pants on!”
I’ve noticed that those in my office (This might be read as everyone except me.) who support Republican/Libertarian/Tea Party candidates seem to do so with a “religious” fervor.
Take June, for example. Sunday mornings find June, her husband, and any college-age offspring who happen to be home for the weekend, in “their” pew inside a large sanctuary replete with ecclesiastical “Jumbo-trons” necessary for those in the very back of the church to see the pastor.
At work, June occupies the cubicle next to mine. Her youngest daughter, fresh from freshman year at UGA, has joined her. And, yesterday morning, her brother stopped there on his way to his own office. Did I mention I work in a family business?
I don’t know what they were talking about. I didn’t hear anything before the word “Pharisee”.
It’s not a word you hear everyday. I can’t, in fact, remember the last time I heard it.
“Isn’t that rich?”, June giggled in that way she has, reminding anyone within listening distance that she still has lunch with several sorority sisters once a month.
“I mean Obama, the Pharisee, was actually quoting from the Bible!” She giggled again.
Her family members remained silent until her brother offered up a weekend anecdote.
I made the decision to forget. I filed away her words, her giggle, and the surprising spark of indignation I couldn’t deny feeling.
After all, I haven’t been this disillusioned by another human being…ever. Obama wasn’t my first choice but, by the time the election was held, he was the only choice. I did my best to believe in him and, despite his admittedly inspired rhetoric, he turned out to be just like the rest of them…
But, I couldn’t. I couldn’t forget. I thought I knew what a Pharisee was, but I wasn’t absolutely sure. It nagged at me all day.
I held my own special brand of indignant curiosity at bay until I got home from work. I fed chickens, collected eggs, checked in on the garden, flipped through mail, and gave my son an extra-big hug before sitting down at the computer.
And, then I “Googled” it.
1. A member of an ancient Jewish sect, distinguished by strict observance of the traditional and written law, and commonly held to have pretensions to superior sanctity.
2. A self-righteous person; a hypocrite.”
President Obama is definitely not Jewish.
But then, neither is June.
41“Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? 42“Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me take out the speck that is in your eye,’ when you yourself do not see the log that is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take out the speck that is in your brother’s eye. 43“For there is no good tree which produces bad fruit, nor, on the other hand, a bad tree which produces good fruit.44“For each tree is known by its own fruit. For men do not gather figs from thorns, nor do they pick grapes from a briar bush. 45“The good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth what is good; and the evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth what is evil; for his mouth speaks from that which fills his heart.
Luke 6: 41-46