***Disclaimer - The dealership was contacted and apologetic and does not support the statements made below***
WHAT IS GOING ON IN THE WORLD TODAY?! I am seriously mortified at what people are saying in the media and the threats to everyone’s safety have become commonplace on social media. How did we get here . . Seriously. Let me explain.
Today I had to drop my car off for a routine oil change. If your vehicle is like mine, it beeps/alarms/yells/complains until you reset it. In the morning before coffee, I lack the ability to tolerate such nonsense so luckily I was able to get the car in next-day.
The dealership that I dropped it off at has a shuttle service to take you to work. The shuttle guy quickly picked me up and started to take me downtown.
Recent events have greatly polarized people of different backgrounds to speak up and start voicing their opinions on how these situations could have been avoided if __________. I won’t share my opinion on this, but I don’t agree with any scenario that stops people from being in a safe place to be themselves. My driver was listening to a very popular local talk radio show and they were speaking about the Syrian situation and Muslim religion. Here’s his unsolicited statement:
Have you seen that show, “What Would you Do?” In a public place, a bunch of actors play out some type of scene that people either ignore or get involved. If I had to look back over my life, I have a history of sticking up for people, or fighting on their behalf. I tend to run to help and get involved. It’s a blessing and a curse sometimes. In my mind I am feeling disgust, anger, irritation, and an adrenaline surge. Am I going to go off on this guy? Am I going to counter his comment with an equally disgusting comment? So I reply:
I might as well have been smoking in the back seat, he quickly turned around and scowled at me like a disappointed parent. It felt like I have no place disagreeing with him in his shuttle van. He turns around to face the windshield and responds:
This perceived correlation about sexual orientation and gender identity being a “choice” really fires me up when I hear it. During my coming out, I had it pretty easy – sure I lost good friends, struggled with a few family members, and it took YEARS to accept myself – but many people have had it much worse. Why would you ever choose to put yourself through the gauntlet?! As much as I wanted to let him have it about how hard it was and still can be for LGBT people I decided to say:
I could have said all kinds of things. I could have handled the situation in a rough tone and started in on perceptions that I may have had about this man based on his comments. But I didn’t. I got out of the car, 2 miles away, and walked the rest of the way to work. I hope during his solitary drive back to the dealer he thought about his offensive comments and that we are real people. Clearly he didn’t realize that I was gay to begin with, as I don’t think he would have said what he did if he knew that.
So my point is this. As we try to move on from events like what has happened lately, and listen to people make blanket statements that are offensive, baseless, racist, misogynistic, homophobic, hateful, selfish, insensitive, etc. you need to know when to walk away. I started Open for Service originally to give people a more positive option to use their energy to make a positive statement. I think that it worked here in Indiana. I think that getting out of the car and him knowing that I will now have to walk two miles to work because of something he said then drive by himself for the next 20 minutes alone will give him an opportunity to think about what he said, and maybe reevaluate his position. A great article about this by my amazing friend Laura Haehl is here - "The Magical Art of Shutting the F*ck Up". (Pardon the language).
I don't know what ISIS looks like, but I know what hate looks like. Like everyone else, I am terrified of whatever the next event may be, (hopefully never again). Part of Open for Service's mission is not to discriminate based on race or religion. And I believe in that, not because I want to . . but I have to. I have to believe that people are inherently good, otherwise what am I doing here? So prove me right today - walk away from the social medias, the debates, the press conferences and know that you're loved and valued.