A Strange Encounter

I walked to the grocery store yesterday evening. I bought pasta and beer, broccoli and cheese. The cashier asked for my store card but not my ID. The bagger asked if one of the buttons on my shoulder bag was “the smiley from the Watchmen comics”.

I confirmed that it was.

As he handed my groceries to me, the bagger — a gangly teen — asked me, out of the blue: “If Trump wins, will you move out of the country?”

“No,” I said. “I’m a straight white cis man. I’d consider it my duty to stay here and vote.”

“What if we get into a war?”

This conversation had exceeded the social norms of time and scope for our relationship. I considered his age. I wondered if he had yet been required to register for the draft.

I looked him straight in the eye and our hands touched, briefly, as I took my grocery bag from him.

“If he wins, we’ve already got a war. I’d consider it my duty to stay here and vote.”

As I walked away, he called out something about “Wouldn’t I be afraid?” and I kept walking because the lady behind me in line had groceries that needed to be bagged and I wanted to make it home before the rain that was forecast. I kept walking but I wish that I’d taken the time to say that yes, yes I would be frightened, but that I hope to be the sort of person whose fear withers before their pride.

I’m not sure that I am such a person, but I certainly hope to be. I wish that I’d taken the time to say that to him.