If you ever wonder what America is thinking, I’ve found a great barometer of political pinion: laundromats.
Our dryer broke recently, so there have been multiple weekly trips to the neighborhood laundry until it can get fixed. And while waiting, usually on Sunday, usually while reading the Sunday New York Times, there have been multiple opportunities to observe and survey random voters(?) – strike “voters,” insert: “citizens.”
The first real treat came in late January when a scruffy-looking 40ish fellow drove up in a beat-up van, bumper stickers galore (I’ll spare you – let’s just say he won’t give up his guns unless I pry his cold dead fingers from them. And that Obama already came to take them).
He unloaded three bags of laundry, parked his van, and started to put the items into a washer. Out of the first bag cam not one, but six – that’s right, six – Confederate flags. I’m not sure of Confederate flag laundry protocol. I’m not even sure there is a Confederate flag laundry protocol.
Never fear, gentle readers; confrontation was avoided. Another laundry patron made small talk, which I obviously overheard. You might call it “eavesdropping.”
It seems the Confederate ex-pat believes we’re awash in “colored folks tellin’ us all what to do, which is not what George and Mary Washington wanted.” And: “Obama is hanging around Washington after the election to re-start the Trilateral Commission” and to make sure “that bitch, Hillary, appoints his wife to the Supreme Court.”
OK, so all the above was the click-bait to get readers this far, but it really did happen that way. I also talked to several laundry patrons who had strong views on current affairs.
From an Hispanic mother of four: “I’d vote if I could, and I’d vote for Hillary or Bernie, but I’m not registered.” Because she’s, well, ineligible to vote. She added: “We came here in 2004 because we needed jobs. My husband and me, we have had four children here. My husband has gotten several green cards, but not any more.”
She spoke while folding sheets and towels, oblivious to any potential danger in admitting her immigration status.
“We’re here for our kids,” she said, adding, “Donald Trump has a lot to learn about world politics.”
She later said to the laundry attendant, Merle: “The new guy, he’s OK, right?”
The next week, the Confederate guy came back, but without flags.
Also there: A lady who was intrigued by my “Pence Must Go” T-shirt. I saw her eyeing me for about a half-hour. When it came time for her to load her dryer, she took the one next to my clothes.
“I want one of those,” she said, as she pointed to the T-shirt. “He’s a complete douche, isn’t he?” She also had multiple other current events opinions, which she shared without being asked:
“I usually vote for at least one Republican. I wonder who it will be this year.”
“You know, my sister is a lesbian. I wasn’t for marriage equality until it came to her.”
“I’m not sure if I’m registered (to vote). How do I find out?” I explained it to her, and she recounted she couldn’t remember when she’d last voted.
“Can I register online?” We started that process on her phone. “But it wants my address. I’m kinda in-between now.”
Two weeks later, Merle the attendant asked me how long I’d been gay. I asked him how he knew.
“Your HRC T-shirts.” I replied: “For quite awhile.” Said he: “So why is it important to have RFGRA rights?” Whereupon a long discussion ensued about religious freedom. And he said, “Are you sure you’re right about that? Because I thought pastors would be forced to marry you.”
“Mind if I ask how you usually vote?” I said to Merle.
“Oh hell I never vote,” he shot back. “They’re all crooks.”
And so it goes.