After I wrote my last post, I thought some more about my coworker who appears to be quite enthusiastic about the candidacy of Donald Trump. I’ll call him Joe.
Joe has read just about every book The Donald has written and shares much more from them that I ever wanted to hear. When he comes into my cube to talk about Trump, I might give myself away as not really wanting to hear it by biting my lower lip, but I listen. I endure the anecdotes and stories for Joe’s sake. He is slightly more than acquaintance, though we never hang out after work. He is an interesting person and entitled to my respect.
We do not talk about the “other life”, but we are both aware of the bouts of unemployment we’ve both had in recent years. It is the thing we each sort of wear on sleeves, the fear and worry, but that goes unmentioned. It’s better that way.
While Joe was talking about Trump the other day, I couldn’t help but think about the reasons he likes him so much. He lost two jobs in the Great Recession and has a family to take care of, a wife who is a homemaker and two kids under ten. And while I pondering the thought, a memory from a handful of years ago came to mind.
The memory was of having just enough to eat to be nourished while still being on the hungrier side of hungry. Most of my waking hours were spent on mere survival, from thinking of new ways to cook from scratch to save money, to trying to make each penny stretch as far as possible.
As I’ve said before, if it weren’t for the WalMart Super Center that had the cheapest prices on groceries anywhere near where I live, my family wouldn’t have made it as far as we did. We were on the $110 per week plan and even with that there was nothing left over.
On Sundays, there was somewhat of spectacle there as that was the day that the farm workers were dropped off to do their shopping. So, mixed in with everyone else were people who didn’t look or sound like they were from around here. Of course, that isn’t a bad thing at all. But given the situation, it is difficult to think about the kind of work they do and their meager lifestyle when they are there filling up their carts with much more than I could have thought of buying.
Now, I can rationalize the sight. Even in the state of tight finances that my family was in, we still had far more than these people are likely to ever have. But suppose what people in similar circumstances who do not think about situations any deeper than the surface might be feeling with growling stomachs as they push their carts around the store. It’s difficult to be tolerant when you’re unemployed and hungry. And the opposition to “illegals” likely isn’t so much about what people they are, it’s about a sense of injustice among the many other injustices that are dealt with daily in the life of the under or unemployed.
It truly is an experience that has to be lived to be understood. That is probably why many people who don’t understand it arrive at the conclusion that the opposition to “illegals” is about race, class, or stature, and characterize those who support Trump as fascist bigots. They are really just more people who speak and act without thinking about how any rational person would find what they hear from Trump even moderately appealing.
When my mind finally circled back to the present, I interrupted Joe’s latest story about Trump by quipping about the Donald having said he would hunt down and kill family members of ISIS. “Now, that is evil,” I said. Joe tied to respond, but I simply repeated, “it’s evil,” and the conversation was finished.