William Carter

William Carter is a retired longtime Franklin city employee and published author. He may be contacted at wcarterfranklin@aol.com.

“I hate liberals and Democrats,” were some guy’s final words to me just as I was about to leave. “Well, I don’t really hate ‘em … yeah, I guess I do. They’re the stupidest people I’ve ever met.”

He was about my age, I suppose, early- to mid-60s, and he had blonde/gray surfer hair, and his face was red, and he wore cargo shorts and a faded Led Zeppelin concert T-shirt stretched over a paunch that distorted Jimmy Page’s face beyond the boundaries of physical science. A pair of Oakley sunglasses hung from a lanyard around his neck, and there were open-toed, leather sandals on his feet.

He needed a pedicure.

The guy was sprawled out on the sofa across from me in the waiting room of the tire store and had paused for breath only about three times after deciding — for reasons I’ve yet to figure out — I was to be his tire store waiting room soulmate for however long it took me to escape. Maybe it was because I was closest to his age. Maybe he was one of those people who are self-assured or delusional enough to think perfect strangers cared strongly about their opinions, and he’d be remiss in not, loudly, giving me an earful. Maybe it was because I had a large cup of Mapco coffee and a yet unopened pack of Twinkies, and he thought I’d share. Or maybe it was just because I was the only other white guy in the waiting room. I’ll never know.

Unbidden — even though I was pointedly staring at the crossword puzzle in my lap and trying hard to recall the Best Picture Oscar winner for 1962 — he informed me that he was pretty upset because he’d just found out that his son, a high school baseball player and apparently the best ever in the history of the game, had lost out on a full-ride college athletic scholarship because of blatant political correctness and reverse discrimination.

“They gave it to some kid from Puerto Rico instead,” he says. “Can you believe it? He wasn’t even born here.”

I lifted my head.

“Puerto Rico’s a territory of the United States,” I tell him as I opened my Twinkies.

“You know what I mean,” he says, flapping his hand as if flicking away 120 years of history. “You know what I mean.”

I did know what he meant but was admittedly more concerned at that moment with my crossword puzzle and a 14-letter word for “monoecious” … and whatever the hell “monoecious” meant.

“You see that car out there?” he asks, pointing through the window at beautiful, blue-and-white 1957 Chevy, and I nod in appreciation.

“My dad worked at the plant where that car was built; he actually put the seats in it,” he says. “He left it to me when he died two years ago. You can’t get a car built like that anymore. The unions ruined everything for everybody. Nowadays, all people are concerned about is what they can get out of a company instead of just being grateful to those companies for giving them a job in the first place. My dad had everything he needed to raise a family, and you never heard him whine about a ‘living wage’ — whatever the hell that’s supposed to mean — because he earned every dime he ever made and never stuck his hand out for anything; you never heard him say he was ‘entitled’ to a damned thing.”

I lifted my head again and drew breath to opine about the pretty clear connection between unions and the automobile industry during the 1950s, and fair wages, and his father having everything he needed to raise a family without asking for handouts, but the guy was still talking.

In the next 20 minutes, I learned he’d lost his job a year ago in the medical equipment sales industry because liberals and Democrats have fixed it where a guy like him can’t even compliment a young woman you work with anymore on how good she looks in a skirt, or keep asking her out even though she should know you were only joking, and that he’d be damned before he’d take another job for what people are only willing to pay these days — even somebody with as much experience as he had — and that he’d just collect unemployment until it ran out, because he was entitled to it.

I learned from him, too, that he can’t carry a gun anymore like he used to because of something his ex-wife lied about, and that it would be her fault if he was shot and couldn’t shoot back, and how that was another thing that was wrong with America.

He told me he had a sure-fire plan to fix social security, and he was going to contact Trump about it when Trump got reelected, and he thanked God for Trump, because something about Hillary and liberals … or maybe it was Obama and liberals.

I learned that he had started a YouTube channel telling the truth about what was really going on in this country, but he was positive liberals and “the gays” were somehow blocking people from watching it because, otherwise, he’d probably have a million views by now.

He’s sick, he told me, and tired that people don’t take responsibility for their own actions anymore, and that he doesn’t know what the hell is wrong with people these days whining about health care, because back when he was a kid and you got sick, you just dealt with it, and that he was tired of paying for other peoples’ sick kids, and he was tired of paying for other peoples’ kid’s school lunches because it wasn’t his fault that some kids don’t get enough to eat, and that anybody who wouldn’t go out and get a job to support their family was just plain lazy, and that he remembered when $8 an hour was, by God, big money.

Putin, he told me, was a victim of the liberal, fake news to draw attention away from the fact that Hillary, and Obama, and Nancy Pelosi have probably killed 40 or 50 people who wanted to expose the truth about them, and thank God for Trump … thank God.

From the corner of my eye, I could see my truck with its new tires pull up in front of the store, and I almost collapsed in relief. I got up to pay and leave — quickly — but not before the guy gestures towards the muted TV mounted to the wall. Biden was holding a press conference about something, and that’s when he says to me, “I hate liberals and Democrats. Well, I don’t really hate ‘em … yeah, I guess I do. They’re the stupidest people I’ve ever met.”

“Huh,” I reply.

He might be on to something.

I still don’t know what the hell “monoecious” means.

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