The Buddhist teacher Pema Chodron advises us to cultivate curiosity, to promote loving kindness in ourselves so that we extend it to others. Even to strangers, which is why I smile or say hello to the most disheveled people walking my way.
All my life I’ve tried to find common ground with those I disagree with. I’m getting better at it. Finally. We all have our stereotypes. I used to really dislike Southerners.
Moving from my urban apartment to Marc’s house in lovely Linden Hills, selling most of my furniture, has been instructive. I didn’t know who would show up. People fascinate me.
In comes young, friendly Architect Guy to buy my orange chair for his modern living room. We get talking, like I always do.
He’s a Minnesota native. “I used to believe in all that good humanitarian stuff but LA did me in. I lived in MacArthur Park,” he tells me. “I had a gun put to my head. There were gangs all around.”
Happy with the orange chair, he cheerfully asks, “Got anything else to sell?”
Carrying an old wooden desk out to his car together, we get deeper into conversation. “I used to be a Democrat. Now I’m a Republican.”
“Oh no, you can’t be a Trumper!” I retort.
“I’m a Republican, I said. Yeah, he’s loony but I care about inflation now. And the price of gas.”
First I try to make sense to him, calling out the mafioso, truly insane crook that Trump is.
As I help Architect Guy lift the desk into his car I realize, He’s made his decision. There’s no use trying to convince him otherwise. Let him be, Sheila.
He hands me a $100 bill from his glove compartment.
At first, Architect guy doesn’t think the desk will fit into his car. I’m optimistic. I take pride in knowing that I’m right. I keep that to myself.
I think of him when a young Hispanic couple comes to pick up my free futon. The woman, who was bigger than her scrawny guy, is wearing blue scrubs.
“Are you a doctor?” I ask. “No, I’m a med tech,” she replies. I imagine my question making her feel good. She takes charge of unscrewing the futon parts, directing Scrawny Guy’s use of his Allen wrench, and the futon’s welcome removal from my apartment. Her guy’s humongous shiny shorts, nearly falling down to expose his ass, reminded me of my stereotype of those LA gang members Architect Guy abhors.
Scrawny Guy is also wearing a backwards baseball cap, a sure sign that he was a drug dealer (what my U.S. History teacher replacement at Mt.Desert Island High School told the kids back in 1990).
“Now we’ll have a place for Teresa and Matt to sleep when they visit this weekend,” says the woman excitedly.
“Yeah, let’s put it in the living room. It’s so nice,” responds Scrawny Guy. “Thank you so much!” he turns away from his girlfriend, hurling a big smile my way.
And, there you have it.