Op-Ed

Strangers on a flight: anti-PC veal-eater, Prius driver hit it off

Thomas W. Downey
Thomas W. Downey

On a flight from Saint Martin to San Antonio two people were able to agree to disagree. They were able to do it without getting angry, storming out of the room, or belittling and making fun of the other person’s viewpoint. One was me, the other was a lady sitting next to me.

She had lived many years in Mexico, the Netherlands and throughout the world. She had 11 children, and they all grew up outside this country. She actually felt like America had been blessed a little too much, considering how people live in so many other places. She still is not able to let water run down the drain, it seems to her like such a waste. She does eat meat and has no problem with fur, but believes America is bad because of the excess of everything.

She was reading Mother Earth News. I told her it used to be the magazine of choice with the hippie commune crowd, all ok with me. She said now it is mainly about letting people in suburbia know they can have chickens in their backyard.

It was fun talking about any and everything. She has driven a Prius for 12 years. She lives in Birmingham, Ala. and said the people there are too religious to vote for a state lottery. I told her the lotteries promise that they will cover education. I asked if she has seen kids selling candy. If so, they are raising what should have been lottery money for education.

At some point, we discussed political viewpoints. We both agreed it would be nice if there were statesmen, but they seem to be a thing of the past. I know that politics is a foul, filthy, vulgar, ugly game, even moreso nowadays. I let her know Rod Blagojevich should not be in jail. Yeah, he made Barack Obama’s old Senate seat available to the highest bidder, but that is not out of the ordinary for Chicago politics.

I got her to admit that all the people who are declared dumb are not really dumb. I hope people are bright enough to see through that political ploy. If you become governor of Alaska at a young age, you are not dumb. If you are governor of Texas, you are not dumb. Graduating from Yale or Harvard does not make you dumb. Even now, if you have built one of the largest companies on Earth, you are not dumb. It is just political to say so, and I hope people are smarter than that.

She got me to admit that I am all for solar energy, if it were possible to have solar cover all the energy bills of a house, without the house being priced unreasonably. She says such houses do exist, but I am not sure. I have heard Al Gore’s solar panels only pay 6 percent of his energy costs. She said her Prius cost $35,000, but it is not an option for me. I told her of my political incorrectness. I do not recycle. I like a little dolphin in my tuna. I like a good piece of veal. She had to have water delivered twice a week in Mexico, so she believes in living very close to the land.

All in all, we had a great time with each other, knowing we were totally on opposite sides of the spectrum. It shows it is possible to talk, disagree, and still appreciate how the other side looks at things. It may be that only special people can do it, and in this case, both of us are very special. I would like to hope there are more special people out there. Surely, not everyone has to be a raving lunatic. Of course, I could be wrong.

Thomas W. Downey of Louisville retired from Kroger after 27 years in technology and auditing. A native of Carlisle, he is an Army veteran who has worked as a legislative aide.

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