Another Hug; Another Smile

Maybe this hugging thing is getting out of hand.   I received a great deal of positive feedback from my story a couple of weeks ago about a hug on my front porch shared with a man who was frustrated with his son-in-law’s support of Trump.  You can read that original post here.

Well, it happened again, but under very different circumstances.  I had gone out to run some errands which included several stops trying to locate a print edition of the New York Times because I felt it very important to read the nationwide rebukes being leveled at Trump for calling the press “enemies of the people.”  What started as an idea by the Boston Globe, ended up with over 350 newspapers across the country defending the need for a free press, and calling Trump out for making violence against journalists more likely occurrences.   Trump’s irresponsible actions are hardly news anymore.  We come to expect them on a daily basis, so it was refreshing and inspiring to see so many papers take a moment to defend one of our most fundamental freedoms.  That they had to do this, of course, is yet another indication of the wretched, cancerous presidency of Trump.

But I digress.

After I grabbed my paper, I was speaking to some students who were waiting for some coffee.  They’ll be in my class this year and it was good to see that they were seemingly looking forward to the start of the year.  Just about this time of August, I know I’m eager to get back to work.  If the students are equally as eager, it’s going to be a great year.  We talked about the classes they will be taking and some of the things we’ll be doing.

Out of the corner of my eye, I see a man approaching us wearing that dreaded red baseball cap. I have spoken before about how I shift into immediate flight or fight mode when strangers approach me because I never know if they going to praise me, curse me, or threaten me for my writing.  The students saw him too and actually took a step back.

He looked at me and said “I just had to say hello.  I saw you in the checkout line with the New York Times, and you don’t run into that very much up here.”  I wasn’t sure where this was going until I glanced up at his red cap which read: “Make Obama President Again.”  I burst out laughing and I reached out and gave him a big hug.  The students laughed and the man went on to explain that he used to be careful where he wore the hat because he knew it made some people angry.  “But now, I say, screw it.  I really don’t care.  This Trump stuff has gone on long enough.  If people get mad at me, let ‘em!”

We talked for a few minutes, he told me where I can buy such a hat, and he wished us well.  The students expressed their relief, because, like me, they were really afraid something was going to go very wrong if that hat would have been advertising the man’s hatred, racism, and ignorance.  A lot of people are haters, racists, and ignorant, but only MAGA hat wearers advertise it.

As I was driving home, I was tormented by so many things related to this three-minute encounter.  How divided is our country that three people having a friendly conversation have to at least consider that something ugly is about to happen?  How sad that a man could tell so much about our community by the rarity of New York Times purchases?  How did I become so inappropriately exuberant the second I saw that he was a “friend”…and a brave enough friend to mock the hateful, racist, and ignorant MAGA crowd?  Why am I suddenly publicly hugging so many men who are older than me?

In the end, I decided exactly what I had concluded in my previous article about the hug on the porch.  What happened in the store today is another sign of hope.  The press is not afraid of our little dictator-in-chief.  Men who should know better are not afraid to express their love of their country in the midst of people hostile to the very values that make our country special.  And young people got to witness genuine emotion from an older generation who really know what a great America looks like.

It’s only 10 a.m., and I’m feeling like I can already call it a day well spent.

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