NOTES: I WROTE this just before EASTER. It was (mutually, sort of) decided this piece was (maybe) too political for the Quilcene Community Center’s monthly e mail-only newsletter, what with all of us bombarded constantly by clusters of divisive stories. OKAY. So, I put it in my blog, “Stuff That Goes On” at the “Port Townsend Leader’s” on-line edition (ptleader.com). To make this a bit less street-talkie-ish, I changed the word I had replaced with ——- to ‘a possibly wonderful person. (or the plural version, ‘people’) So, look for that. IN ORDER to increase possible readership, I’m also publishing the piece here. OH, since this is for grownups, the word was ‘asshole.’
After picking up twenty bucks at Quilcene’s US Bank ATM, I pulled under the canopy in front of The Village Store. They offer a ten cent per gallon discount for cash, and my ‘low fuel’ light was on. The twelve o’clock NPR news update just started (after another pledge drive plea), and, with the seemingly ever-increasing political drama, I decided to switch the key to ‘accessory’ and listen.
A car pulled up on the outside of the island. An older guy (I always guess they’re older than me- frequently incorrectly) got out; shaved head, some sort of red/white/blue t shirt on. “Hillary” the first word said. “Oh, maybe I was wrong,” I thought.
No, my first impression was, possibly, partially confirmed. The rest of the message said, “…For Prison.”
“Oh.” Not that this sort of right-leaning sentiment is unusual in the boonies; the red, bullet- hole like splotches in a blue state. Yeah, and Washington is quite red east of the mountains, kind of melting into Idaho.
So, no biggie; and yet, it did bug me. It’s not like wearing one’s heart on one’s sleeve; this was a political mini-billboard, the closed captioning to Fox News.
Okay, so I was probably wearing a Seahawks or Hansen Surfboards beanie, maybe a HamaHama sweatshirt; nothing radical. Unlike my old work van, surf-related decal-adorned, my current paint rig only has a few stickers; one for the Chimacum Farm Stand, of course, one for ukeleles someone put under my window wipers out on the Strait. Nothing overtly political.
I kind of wanted to say something to the guy, but, of course, wouldn’t. I’m not that confrontational. Maybe, if he said something to me…
When I went in to get a “Leader,” a “Peninsula Daily News” and get my discounted price set up, the ‘for prison’ guy was almost out the door. I had, of course, nodded (not a big, ‘how’s it going’ nod, not a ‘great t shirt’ nod). Hey, it’s a custom. There was some sort of website mentioned on the back of his t-shirt. Couldn’t quite catch it.
I just had to say, sort of in general, but mostly toward the manager, one of the Brotherton brothers (Ken), behind the counter, looking at his laptop; and sort of toward the woman who would take my money; “I was just checking to see if the back of his shirt said, ‘I’m obviously ‘a possibly wonderful person.’ ”
The cashier looked a little too shocked; the manager looked up from his laptop for a second. There was some confusion. Had I meant that, obviously, I’m ‘a possibly wonderful person?’
This confusion was escalated when the cashier, taking my twenty, gave me change for three newspapers. “No,” I said, “this PDN is from yesterday.”
The previous day’s papers had, previously, been free; but now, “We charge for them for a week after the actual day.” “Oh. Okay; but I wanted twenty bucks worth of gas.” “Oh. Then, you’ll need to give me another two-fifty.” I may be wrong about the exact amount. Prices have risen. “Huh? Oh. Okay.” I had two bucks, dug for the necessary change.
Just then, a guy I don’t know (younger than me) stepped up to the counter, a little too close to my right side, and said, sort of to me, but also to Ken and the cashier; “You know, when I was about thirty I decided we’re all ‘possibly wonderful people’.” Pause. The Brotherton looked up, nodded. The cashier, taking my two dollars, change, and pocket debris, seemed to agree. “That helps me get along with people (note, here, he did say ‘people’) a lot better.”
So, there it was; the basis, really, of the Christian (as well as almost all other religions, and central to most non-religious philosophies) ethic (and I do make some claim to trying to be a flawed and hypocritical Christian); that we’re all ‘possibly wonderful people’; or, for something closer to something we might agree on, sinners.
And there I was, the most obvious ‘possibly wonderful person’ in the store. Or, again, the most obvious sinner. Yes, I had been totally high-roaded. One can’t just pull right back out of that ditch.
The guy with the Hillary t-shirt was gone. I (mentally) banged my head against the van as I fueled-up. “Why did I say anything? Dumb ‘possibly’ (shortened version of ‘possibly wonderful person’).” The guy who’d calmed the waters (sort of) at the counter, to-go coffee cup in one hand, locally-produced sweet roll in the other, got into his pickup; a table saw and some two-by-fours in the bed; and drove off down Surf Route 101.
I drove off the other way. Of course.
NOTE: After having no real success looking for an image of a carpenter, in his thirties, next to an appropriate work truck, I continued googling, searching for an image of the Village Store. I found this shot of my daughter, Dru, home at Christmas (probably not last Christmas), at the other grocery in Quilcene, The Peninsula Store. I know she wrote a glowing review for Yelp, and is fond of the fried food. It doesn’t look like she was in luck on this trip. The “God Bless America” sticker is a bonus feature.