Thursday, February 18, 2016

Union blues

     I lost faith in my union even before they lost faith in me.
     It was at a meeting, where I always managed to stand out but usually in good ways.
     I dressed in "church clothes" and looked the part of a union member who cares.
     It was a matter of survival at that point, wearing the right shoes every day. There was no casual Friday or pajama day in my school.
     There were politicians at the meeting, democrats I think. I grew up around them and know their language. My grandfather was very good at being one, a politician.
     They are friendly but kinda sneaky, like reporters, another reason we tend to get along so well.
     Every one of them has deep beliefs about their duty to "make things better," even the twisted ones. It can be fascinating to hear once the "Party talk" is over.
     The conversation that night was about the upcoming Presidential election, and it went in one of those directions where my mouth opened but no one else's in the room did.
     It came out by itself..a little too loudly so that people turned around and looked at me. Everyone did, I think, and I wasn't even standing up.
     I can't remember what I said, but it wasn't obscene.
     How I said it, my volume and tone were different, but it wasn't that, not really.
     It was my idea that unsettled them.
     They didn't get what I was saying, and it was a topic no one can get me to budge on. Not then and definitely not today.
     It's a scary feeling, to have people look at you and not get what you are saying or why their not getting it offends you so much.
     The entire mindset of my fellow union members, not that of the politicians, offended me to my core as they stared at at me in confusion.
     No teacher ever taught me I couldn't talk about the news in school, not in my hometown and not at my college in Chapel Hill. How could we not talk about the presidential election in social studies class when a peanut farmer was in office, come on?
     I did not understand what was wrong with them, why they said I couldn't put an Obama sticker on my car if I drive it to work, that my students would become democrats because of me.
     Why couldn't I be proud to support the same person whose picture is already in their history books, if only by putting a sticker on my car?
     My first reaction was to bolt, not wander out as if having a seizure.
     I was surrounded by the enemy and wanted OUT.
     They were the worst kind of sheep, making up new fences for themselves that didn't need to exist.
     Was I in the wrong union or the wrong profession?
     I felt sick, but it wasn't the pang of regret; it was something much more familiar.
     I was all alone again, surviving on instinct, and it said, "Run!"