It is not surprising that Ruth Mayer and her 16-year-old daughter drove from Charlotte. N.C. , to Washington, D.C., to participate in the recent Women's March.
After all, Mayer's "fury had been bottomless" since the election of Donald Trump. She was furious not only at Trump but at the people who elected him. So Mayer and her daughter left for home after the march feeling pretty good about themselves. Then, as desribed in the Charlotte Observer, on the way home her Prius ran into trouble, and here is what happened:
Before I could do anything but park my grey Prius, a man rushed over. He looked like a mechanic in his well-worn overalls. “I heard you coming down that road,” he said. Before I could say much he started surveying the situation. He didn’t so much offer to help us as get right to work.
It turned out that I hadn’t blown a tire; a huge piece of plastic underneath the front bumper had come loose, causing the screeching as it scraped along the road. After determining that he couldn’t cut the plastic off, he ran over to his car to grab some zip ties so that he could secure the piece back in place.
He did all of this so quickly that I didn’t have time to grab the prominent RESIST sticker on the side of my car, which suddenly felt needlessly alienating. As this man lay on the ground underneath my car with his miracle zip ties, I asked if he thought they would hold for four more hours of driving.
“Just ask any redneck like me what you can do with zip ties – well, zip ties and duct tape. You can solve almost any car problem. You’ll get home safe,” he said, turning to his teenage son, who had been standing nearby. “You can say that again,” his son agreed.
The whole interaction lasted 10 minutes, tops. But that good Samaritan – I never learned his name – was a man of his word: Katherine and I made it home safely.
Our encounter changed the day for me. While I tried to dive back into my liberal podcast, my mind kept being pulled back to the gas station. I couldn’t stop thinking about the man who called himself a “redneck” – the man who came to our rescue.
I don’t know his politics, but I sized him up as a Trump voter, just as he likely drew inferences from my Prius and RESIST sticker. But for a moment, we were just two people and the exchange was kindness (his) and gratitude (mine).
As I drove home, I felt the full extent to which Trump has actually diminished my own desire to be kind. He is keeping me so outraged that I hold ill will toward others on a daily basis. Trump is not just ruining our nation, he is ruining me. By the end of the drive, I felt heartbroken.
As glad as we are that mother and daughter made it home safely, we must say: Ruth, Donald Trump has not diminished your desire to be kind. Only you can do that. If your anger made you harbor ill will towards those with whom you disagree, well, that's on you, not Donald Trump.
Furthermore, I am a bit puzzled that you felt you should have hidden your RESIST placard before your Good Samaritan noticed it. Maybe you don't know it, but many people don't regard correct political opinions as the sine qua non of human interaction. I'm willing to bet your benefactor didn't give two hoots about your politics. He saw somebody who needed help and gave it.
Still, you were willing to regard this as a learning experience, and that is more than a lot of people do in theise overheated times. So good on you.