Wednesday, December 03, 2008

In which a bigoted jerk* jumps to conclusions and learns a lesson.

The patient was pretty typical for rural areas around here: no teeth to speak of, a lifetime of smoking, sun exposure, and manual labor, no education past about the ninth grade. He enjoyed Jerry Springer, betting on cockfights (illegal but still big money-makers around here), and the occasional night out with the boys, bowling.

I was changing his dressing. It was one of those involved dressing changes where you end up next to the bed for half an hour, taking off layers of this and that with your mask and gown on. CNN or CNBC or MSN--one of those channels involving political analysts--was on, and he was making light conversation about cockfighting.

Then the subject changed.

"This Barack Obama..." he began. I mentally steeled myself for what was to follow. People will say anything to a nurse, especially when she's wearing full isolation gear and a mask with an eyeshield. 

"This Barack Obama. I'm looking forward to having him as President."

I glanced up and said "mmmmm", which is my usual reaction to patients who talk politics. I was waiting, as it were, for the punch line.

"He looks like a smart guy," the patient continued, "and he seems to be pickin' people for his cabinet who may not necessarily agree with him all the time, but who know their stuff. It'll be nice to have a smart person in office again."

I blinked. "Mmmmm?" I said.

"Well, you know, Bush was all right there for a while, but he kinda got a lot o' yes-men up in around him, and things just ain't been goin' right. Obama may not have a whole helluva lot of experience, you know, but he's doin' all right so far."

I blinked again. I glanced at the patient. "Mmmm? Mmmm."

"I don't think it's elitist," he continued, gesturing at one of the talking heads on the TV, "to have a constitutional expert up in office. I mean, we've seen what the Patriot Act did for civil liberties and for privacy rights, and it's just been a mess. Plus, you add in that whole...whaddya call it? Kyoto protocol? That one we didn't sign? We need to git on that, right now."

I finished taping down the dressing and took off my mask. "You seem to have some pretty unusual views about politics, my friend," I said. This is, after all, a solidly Republican area.

"Well, just because I didn't finish high school don't mean I can't watch CNN and listen to NPR," he replied.

So I sat down for a few minutes. It was the end of the shift and the day had been light, and I had time. We talked about Obama, the recent court challenges to the FLDS out west, and whether or not romance, as a concept, was dead. At the end of it he shook my hand and told me that, if I ever developed an interest in watching roosters fight, I should look him up.

(*That, of course, meaning me.)


5 comments:

Nancy said...

Great post. You just never know do you? I'm usually finding out people I thought were okay are big jerks, not the other way around. Regarding the picture below, are you the one holding a bottle between the guys in white shirts? I'm not alone in thinking the others are dudes.

Jo said...

Yep, them's guys. I stole the picture from "Manolo for the Big Girl"--I haven't any idea where they found it, but I love it.

I swear, the drag queen on the left looks a lot like me. I think my biceps might be bigger, though.

Gwen said...

Ah, I love it when that happens to me! Even through the shame of realizing once again, that I am still a bigoted jerk.

Penny said...

Now if he would just stop that unmitigated bullshit with the roosters...

:-(

He obviously has a brain. As happy as I am to see it engaged as it is, I hope he engages it further. People who can seek out and watch that kind of cruelty really, really trouble me.

Awesome post, though!!!!

Strong One said...

Wow. Thanks for that serving of a humble-sandwich.
It amazes me how we (meaning myself and everyone else) can be blinded by our own experiences some times.
This is one of those times that remind you to stay grounded and open minded.
Great story. Thanks for sharing.