At Least He Didn’t Call Me “Macaca”

Posted: August 10, 2009 in Politics

During a campaign cycle years ago my coordinated campaign leader called me and asked me if I wanted to attend a political event that was being conducted in a remote and very small town. This event was to be a rally for an opponent of our candidate. We were supposed to just make a showing (be a presence); and one guy was going to wear a costume. We were going to be in the parking lot outside the community center where the event was to be.

As always, I was ready and raring to go. He picked me up and we drove out to the place. We met some other people from our campaign(s) and prepared to do it. One of the guys had a miniature recording device and asked who would want to go into the community center and record the speech. “How about you, Bob? Do you want to do that?” asked my coordinator.

“Sure. I am always feeling adventurous and fearless.” So, the guy with the recording device handed it to me with instructions on how to get it started… and stopped.

So, I went in concealing my little tool. I suppressed my usual tendency to engage people in a friendly conversation – having my little tool in my hand; and just stood unobtrusively by the wall. I just let other people be friendly.

After several local politicians had their say, the speaker, who spoke last (preceding the main speaker), introduced the main speaker and I pressed the button to start recording. About 2/3 of the way through the speech the speaker mentioned the people outside from the other side of the political campaign. Suddenly, a voice – loud and clear from across the room – spoke out, “And one of them is in here as a spy. His name is Bob and he’s standing right over there by the flag.”

I just grinned my most nonchalant grin and attempted to divert attention from me by looking to my left, to the other side of the flag. The speaker didn’t even miss a beat. He turned and said, “Hi, Bob”.

Was I embarrassed? Well, yes; but I controlled my embarrassment by just continuing what I was doing.

After the speech, the speaker told people he would now circulate throughout the room and take questions. He turned towards me and stuck out his hand for me to shake. I shook his hand and said, “Hey, I wanted to hear both sides.” To which he responded, “Well, good. I hope you will consider supporting me.”

When I left I went out to the parking lot where the people were sitting, waiting for me. I told them, “Hey, I was outed.” To which my coordinator asked, “What, they threw you out?”

“No, I was exposed by my neighbor from across the street.” I was laughing because of the irony of the whole thing. Who would have thought that my neighbor would show up so far away to see his favorite candidate? We were, and remain, friends. Even though he wasn’t smiling that night, the next day he and his wife drove out of their drive-way and they saw me out front of my house. He smiled and gave me the peace sign. I had my usual big grin on; and gave him the peace sign back.

My opinion is he just doesn’t understand the way those of us who are politically astute (smirk) can have a congenial relationship with those with a different view. He should have known that, however. I’ve always been proactive in engaging the neighbors in conversations; even before the political season heated up. The first day I engaged him in a conversation he was out doing yard work. I yelled, “Hey! What are you doing over there? If you keep that up my wife will have me out here doing yard work.” He came down his stairs to the side-walk and I went over and had a nice conversation just to get to know him. I have sought to get to know the neighbors on all four sides of me; as well as several beyond them.

I can only conjecture why he had an apparent change of demeanor the day after; and I won’t even try to articulate my guesses. But, I never get tired of telling the story. My only wish is I would have had the presence of mind to tell the candidate, “In the unlikely event that you get to the other Washington; when you meet Senator John Warner, tell him `Bob says hi’”. Then I would have to explain to him how I had dinner with John Warner way back when… But, that’s another story: my Forrest Gump moment.

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