Thursday, April 18, 2013

WHEN TO KEEP YOUR MOUTH SHUT



Origin unknown. This came to me in an email.
Sometimes it is hard to keep quiet. Especially when someone has unwittingly found one of your buttons and persists on leaning on it.

This happened to me the other day. My headlights had burned out and while it is not rocket science to replace them, it can be tedious. They are hard to get to with not much space to work in.  So I took the job to my local mechanic.  

We have dealt before but I guess we never touched on certain subjects. We had always had an agreeable, friendly relationship.  This day was different.   It was shortly  after the Boston Marathon bombing. 

Regular followers know I am liberal in my politics and beliefs. I soon found this fellow was so far right that he was in danger of slipping off the scale. 

We were agreeing on how awful the bombings were when he went off on his views of the ails of the United States.  Mainly, those darn foreigners.  

"We let those thieving immigrants into our country with no care for us real Americans.  You ever take a trip across country and stay in motels? They are all run by foreigners. They not only take our jobs; they take our businesses; then they feel free to kill us. " 

I bit my tongue to keep from saying, "Gee, you don't look Native American."  
I also had to choke back, "I personally  admire their work ethic and enterprise."

When I actually said nothing and employed my best blank, noncommittal look, he then attacked the President.  He evidently didn't like Obama's facial expression when he responded to the event. He grumbled, "The President   certainly didn't show any compassion." 

 He snarled the word "president" with complete disdain and let loose a stream of saliva whenever saying either "Obama" or "President." I smelled more than politics here as the basis for his hatred.  

When he mentioned the small boy who was  killed, I replied, "We have certainly lost entirely too many children lately."

He knew I was referring to Sandy Hook so he evoked the "taking my gun out of my cold dead hand" mantra of the NRA against any form of gun control. So much for any common ground. 

Veins were throbbing in his neck and temples with his passion.  I refused however to fuel his fury. I maintained a twitch free expression. 

From life long experience  I realized nothing I could say would sway him in the slightest and nothing he could say would change my beliefs.   To try would only feed frustration and anger for both of us. While a younger me would have tried,  I tend to now days live by the Serenity Prayer and only try to change those things that can be changed. 

 He did manage to alter my opinion but it was  of him, not my beliefs.  He went from a rather sweet, funny, good ole country boy to someone I had to carefully watch my subject topics with in the future. 

I guess we all have multiple sides. I know some of you, bless you hearts, live with someone with polar opposite beliefs. You have my complete admiration. I have friends with radically different views on certain matters, but I don't have to wake up with them in the morning and as long as we ignore the buttons, we can have a cordial relationship.    

After another monologue on the absurdities of Obama Care, he finished the job and we went inside to settle up.

With a big grin he charged me just the price of the bulbs, $21.00, saying there was no charge for installation. Can you imagine my bill had I gone toe to toe with him? Silence can be golden. 

My blood pressure and pocket book are grateful for my restraint. Undoubtedly, sometime in the future with my 10 year old vehicle, I will again need his services.  They will be available and tended to without spite. I will have to remind myself of the things about him that I do like.  

Would you have defended  your beliefs or held your tongue like I did? 

47 comments :

smartcat said...

You did the right thing, but I would be looking for a new mechanic. As long as he doesn't act on his vitriol he is entitled to his beliefs. However, you don't have to help support him by patronizing his business.

Peruby said...

A similar situation happened with me. Our custodian at work is a wonderful, funny guy. I dearly love him. He mumbled something about closing the borders to those foreigners and I quipped "But YOUR anscestors were foreigners once!"

To which began a conversation about Scotland. We kept it light - we knew each other had different opinions and it all worked out in the end.

Two adults. Agreeing to disagree.

LL Cool Joe said...

I'd find it hard to keep my mouth shut. But then I have so many buttons that if pushed I find hard not to react to them. Gender stereotyping, adoption, racism, homophobia, transphobia etc. I dread to think what my blood pressure is like!

But, like you, I try to look for the good in a person too, they usually have some redeeming traits, and usually their unpleasant character traits are through ignorance and lack of knowledge.

Manzanita said...

The nation is definitely divided.
Yeah, I might prostitute my tongue to save a buck. LOL

Gail said...

You do not use him for his social skills but rather for his mechanical skills. You can trust him as a mechanic so use him as that. Bring a book and read while he is working.

That is one of the things great about our country and do hope we get to keep that freedom...the freedom to our opinion. Opinion can be delivered without venom. It's not personal. It's an opinion.

I do think immigration requirements and rules should apply to all equally. My ancestors four generations back were English, German, Irish and Native American. I am simply American and proud of that fact.

God Bless American!

Olga said...

I think you were wise to let him rant away without engaging.

My husband does not share my liberal leanings, but he is not an unreasonable, uncaring blowhard either. We have interesting, but respectful, discussions. I always ask for the source of information (NRA propaganda?) and try to reframe to a personal level (What if this happened in our family?) I have learned there are different ways to understand. And, of course, there are times when he is a horses patootie and I just tell him so.

turquoisemoon said...

I live with a righty, and we have differing opinions on so many different subjects. We try not to push buttons, but sometimes things are said that tend to push mine...so! I post my liberal sayings next to his coffeepot! :)

DJan said...

I am so fortunate to live with a guy who sees the world as I do, but I would have kept quiet with the mechanic. You are so right about only trying to change those things that CAN be changed, and one of those is your headlights at a reasonable price. I think I would look for another place to take my care, though. :-)

chlost said...

I have found a local service station which has full service...meaning they pump your gas. A wonderful service at no extra charge in this self-serve society. The attendant shares your mechanic's beliefs and has ranted off on me a couple of times as I am sitting in my car while the tank is being filled. I finally said something to the effect of "Well, everyone is entitled to their opinion." In a little more polite manner. I hope. So far, he is still friendly.

Linda Wildenstein said...

I too have learned with age that spitting into the wind in the case of polar opposites in beliefs no longer holds the toe to toe appeal it once did. There is enough drama in the world without me adding to it. And now I must add a disclaimer.....most of the time with personages for which I care not. That doesn't leave the Cuckoos here at the Casa unscathed though. Here I am the Omalator and they all know that. If you make a statement and I don't agree, I will politely comment. And most of the time we learn from each other.
I personally think you deserve a merit badge for not sticking it to the good old boy....but then what would you have gained....nothing. You're a goodie. Oma Linda

Chatty Crone said...

Think I will stick with praying! sandie

jan said...

Hello Patti... I think I would have done what you did> shocked aren't you.. guess that is what getting older does.. Love reading your blog! Love you too!

Linda said...

It's interesting how age seems to mellow us. There was a time when I would have challenged the mechanic but these days I'm more mellow. I've learned you can't open a closed mind. My situation is with my dentist. I try to remember I pay for a service he provides. It's not my job to pry open his mind.

Inger said...

I just keep saying to myself, Obama won again, Obama won again. It has become my mantra since I live in a red county in a blue state and run into these people often. I love you for writing this post, the Obama haters on the blogs make my BP go up, so I avoid politics for the most part. This is a great post and you did the right thing to be quiet. You cannot reason with or discuss politics in a civil manner with people like that guy.

NCmountainwoman said...

Living in a VERY conservative right-wing county, I have learned to hold my tongue. OK, biting it now and then.

These are not rational people. And it does no good to try to explain any point of view other than their own.

But still it does bother me.

robin andrea said...

I wouldn't have said a word, but I would have made a mental note to find another mechanic. I don't like people who talk politics on the job. He is providing a service, and he's not a radio talk show.

MerCyn said...

Living for years in a very conservative community I learned to keep my mouth shut. I can do that easily now that I have aged and 'matured.' It was very hard to do years ago!

OldLady Of The Hills said...

So happy to read a post by you, my very dear Patti....
Yes, I would have spoken up. I learned in the 1960's that I must speak my mind. NOTHING changes if you don't. If nothing else, the other person finds out that there are other views. And further, sometimes, something you say DOES penetrate....
NOT speaking up allows the other person to feel you agree, and he or she is not alone.
My belief is: WE Must Speak Up, or....Indeed, there is not even the possibility of enlightenment.

Cheryl @ TFD said...

I've learned (finally) to keep my mouth shut in situations such as this one. Some people are full of opinions and love to express them. This guy is a mechanic and not a friend, so I wouldn't have a problem with using his services as long as he is good at his job.
Hope you're escaping the storms! Stay safe.

islandwonder said...

I agree. I have met people in which we agree on 70% of politic stuff but I have learned not to even discuss it with them as the focus always comes to the 30%. No one changes anyone's mind.

Grayquill said...

Being conservative in my view points and I think of myself as right wing - I would say this perosn is not an accurate description of a consevative right wing person. How about just an non-thinking prejudice nitwit.

Betsy Adams said...

Religion and Politics are two things that nobody should talk about publicly--especially if they are on the job...

There are right wing and left wing nuts out there.. As you know, I am a Conservative --but I certainly am not as far to the right as that mechanic was. However I learned the hard way not to try to convince a blog friend that 'my' way was best... I LOST that friend. There are a few others that I don't communicate much with anymore due to their politics (and mine).. I just try to stay away from it 90% of the time... BUT--there are times that it's darn hard to keep my mouth shut!!!!! ha ha

Most of us Conservatives are not against immigrants... We just want them to be LEGAL...

You obviously did the right thing in dealing with that man... You got a good deal money-wise just 'cause you kept your mouth shut... Good for you!!!!

Hugs,
Betsy

gigihawaii said...

I would have kept my cool, as I hate to waste energy on politics.

Arkansas Patti said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Arkansas Patti said...


smartcat,
Sadly this small town doesn't offer many options and he is a good and honest mechanic. I will just have to find some safe conversation topics.

Peruby,
You found just the right defusing comment and he luckily was not blind to being open. You are right, two adults. Bravo.

LLCool Joe,
You are right Joey. Seldom does anyone burst from the womb with hate filled hearts. They have been taught.

Manzi,
Ha, ha actually I kept my tongue a chaste by ignoring his verbal intercourse.

Gail,
You are right and I will still go to him as he is honest and a good mechanic. Kind of rare. My folks arrived on a boat from England and Ireland. Pure immigration stock also.

Olga,
I was thinking about you when I mentioned those who live with someone of a different viewpoint. You all seem to have found a balance.
I totally cracked up at "horse's patootie".

turquoisemoon,
You were another I knew lived with some one of a different bent. Like how you put your views close by something to wash them down with:)

Djan,
Ah, you are lucky in your choice of partners. Probably a good idea to discuss those things before moving in. This town has limited options for car care and he is an honest and a good mechanic. Now I know where the egg shells are.

chlost,
Thanks, if I have another episode with him, I may try that and hope it doesn't set him off.

Linda Wildenstein,
I love your image of spitting into the wind for it really is about as fruitful. So nice that you generally have amendable folks at the Casa. Sure would make this world a better place if we all learned to bend.

Sandie,
Well, you can't go wrong there.

jan,
Hey little sis, so glad you stopped in. Well, I might have been a tad shocked:)) Proud of you for mellowing out. One of the benefits of age. Thank you and love ya too.

Linda,
Oh dear, you mean you have to listen to such clap trap with instruments in your mouth? Bummer.

Inger,
Thank you. Oh I feel for you. I moved into a blue state but it is turning purple. Sigh. I agree, sometimes, there is just no room for discussion.

NCMountainwoman,
I feel your pain also. My blue area is turning more red each year. And as Linda said, there is no "spitting into the wind".

robin,
I don't have much choice in this town and he is honest and a good mechanic. I will just make sure in the future, I don't hang over the engine to chit chat.

Mercyn,
I know. It was so easy when younger to want to jump into the fray. Mellowing is easier on our health.

Naomi,
Oh I was right with you in the 60's. I was a born marcher. I think age and too many fruitless battles have worn me down. In all my years, I don't think I have swayed a single soul. I admire you for retaining our moxie.

Cheryl,
Like Gail said, next time I will bring a book. This time was impulsive as I had just discovered my head light being out.
So far just wind and rain. Hope you are staying safe also.

islandwonder,
You made a good point. Often we do agree on many things but it seems on the 30%, the feelings run high.

GQ,
Ah, my favorite conservative. And you are correct. Extremes on both sides (like that fellow but also Civil Libertarians on the left) are a bit scary and give all the rest a bad name. Like Suz at "islandwonder" stated, we are each not that far off from common ground.

Betsy,
And there is my other favorite conservative. Like you I learned there is no way to convert someone's beliefs, either religion or politics if they are strong in their beliefs. Sorry you lost your friend. I just realized that I lost a follower today.

gigi,
It truly is wasted energy and elevated blood pressure with no hope of resolve.

Betty said...

Right-leaning folks waaaaaaaay outnumber left-leaners in my community, so I just don't talk about politics, although I have knots all over my tongue from biting it. So, I just smile and nod whenever I encounter a wing nut, and take out my feelings on my blog. Hehe

Linda Reeder said...

Oh, I would have had a tough time staying as cool as you did. I'm not sure how I would have handled it. At best I probably would have laughed and said something about him having some pretty strong feelings. I still have a tough time holding my tongue.

Linda Braun said...

A good mechanic is hard to find these days, so I would have kept my mouth shut. However, I'm afraid my facial expression of disbelief and/or disgust at such opinions may have given me away. I've kept quiet when strangers/service people have started spouting off on the "Obama free phones to black people to garner votes", birther beliefs, "guns don't kill people" blah, blah, simply because you won't change their minds. It follows along the theory of not trying to teach a pig to sing.

Mumsys Kitty Korner said...

When I am in a public place I keep my mouth shut. As a rule I talk very little politics with anyone but my sister. We can agree to disagree although we agree on most all things. In my opinion in most cases it is wasted time to discuss politics with the majority of people. Hugs and give Mighty some nose kisses for us.

Barb said...

In these situations, silence is golden, whatever your political persuasion.

Linda Starr said...

In small towns it pays in so many ways to go with the flow no matter your opinion. With two sides most often I find there is real truth somewhere in the middle. I once stuck my foot in my mouth with a neighbor in Arkansas and later had to apologize; sometimes I just can't help myself.

Kay said...

You are just the most wonderful writer, Patti. Your posts always make me think. It would be too easy to say you should stand up for your beliefs, buuuut... sometimes I figure, what would it have accomplished? You wouldn't have been able to change his mind.

I have an "old friend" who I guess I never really knew. His views are just like that mechanic. It boggled my mind to get his comment on my Facebook. I told him I had to erase what he wrote because it was so vile. He's behaving now, but my feelings about him have completely changed. I've lost all respect for him.

Arkansas Patti said...

Betty,
Isn't it wonderful to have that place to go? Guess that is exactly what I did. My county is still pretty blue but it definitely isn't black.

Linda Reeder,
You are right. Laughter can be a great diffuser. Maybe that and a quick subject change will work if it happens again.

Linda Braun,
Good to hear from you Linda. Missed you. I just checked and you are posting but not showing up on my reading list. I will try to fix that and catch up.

Mumsy,
I agree. I would never start talking politics or religion with a stranger in public and usually avoid such in private.

Barb,
Thanks, totally agree. There is nothing to gain but heart disease.

Linda,
You and Suz are so right. We do have a lot of common ground. It is a shame we can't find more moderates on both sides.

Kay,
Thank you for the lovely compliment. So glad you think so.
I too had that happen with a former boss that I really liked and he never showed the slightest sign of racism at work. After retirement, his emails became absolutely vile and violent. He ignored my request to stop. Sadly I had to cancel our friendship. I miss the man I thought he was.

Ginnie said...

I run into the same thing all the time in my area. I have come so close to writing a blog entry about the "silent" hatred that is so apparent in the right wing of the country. The only time I have seen an elected official mention this was Ex-pres. Bill Clinton when he was stomping for President Obama in the last election.
The "browning of America" is what they fear the most and they forget when their grandparents arrived here looking and sounding pretty much the same !
I guess I would have kept quiet but my stomach would have been in spasms !!

Grayquill said...

Hey, I am either your favorite or I'm not...choose :-))
Choose me......please

Arkansas Patti said...

Ginnie,
Totally agree with you. I saved my stomach by not getting involved. I still think we out number them which is what keeps me sane.

GQ.
Ha ha, you always make me laugh so I guess that puts you right on top as my favorite. It's official.

Rocky Mountain Woman said...

I live in UT and am quite a bit farther left than most of my friends and neighbors. I usually keep my trap shut until certain buttons get pushed. There really is no benefit to arguing with someone whose mind is already made up.

Jewels said...

Oh my, you did good. As you know, it is very difficult for me to hold my tongue. You are right that there isn't anything one can say to a hater that will make him think twice. Saying the serenity prayer to oneself is great advice!

Angie said...

Just got back from Belfast ....where we had to watch what we said...especially the words 'Mrs Thatcher' ....but had a wonderful time. Yours is the first blog I am visiting and it so made me smile ....I too was thinking Is this man a Native American????.With those I know well I usually do not hold my tongue but usually I am nervous of upsetting those I do not know.xx

Linda Myers said...

While on a road trip from Seattle to Tucson, we stopped at a fast food place for lunch. Leaving the place, we ran into a couple heading for their RV. We had a short conversation in which a similar rant issued from the fellow's mouth. I listened, then said, "We live in a time where people have lots of different opinions. Aren't we fortunate to live in a country where each of us can speak his mind without fear of punishment?"

He agreed, and we continued on with our days.

Arkansas Patti said...

RMW,
I know where you are coming from. My sentiments exactly.

Jewels,
You bet. That prayer is how I judge most prickly situations. If I can't change it, I let it go.

Angie,
I didn't realize till she died how much ill will there was towards Margaret Thatcher. I always admired her.

Linda Myers,
If it comes up again, I might try that. I do believe that everyone has a right to state their opinion. I just think it strange to do it to an almost stranger.

Retired English Teacher said...

I would have kept my mouth shut just as you did in this situations, and for the same reasons. Thankfully, my husband and I see things the same way politically. I've learned that there are times to stand up for one's beliefs, and times to keep silent. He was on the job. He was wrong in his spewing. You showed grace and serenity.

Carolyn said...

I have learned through the years that people with 'that' mindset do not think for themselves. They tend to live in fear and have absolutely no curiosity.

They only want to hear people who think as they do ... different is not allowed because it would take being curious and wanting to learn. This leaves them vulnerable to the likes of the Rush Limbaugh nut cases … Fox News and so forth…. believe everything they are told. Most of the stuff they hear and read can quickly be proved wrong by a simple google.

There are areas of our little beautiful state that I know to keep my mouth shut... a very very hard thing to do since I suffer from hoof'n'mouth disease…. it would serve no purpose ...

I have stayed silent because there is absolutely no way this mindset can accept differing views. not allowed in their world. haha ~ I don't think I could have maintained a twitch free expression, however.

I have said though when the gun issue inevitably comes about … they need their gun to fend off the government … cracks me up … I say, well? I reckon we could probably take North Korea but you? … maybe not.

You know what's funny? they don't get it… I have to suppress a cackle because they are that anal. unfreakinbelievable

I live in Little Rock and love to wander about but as soon as I hit the outskirts ... I expect that mindset.

If I meet a liberal minded person? I'm amazed. Always amazes me how the church goers are the most closed minded ... fearful of everything. sad

merrilymarylee said...

It's hard, isn't it. You don't want to start a fight, but you don't want him to think you agree with his hateful beliefs either. I usually say something like, "WHOA! I don't think you want to talk politics with me."

Sounds like you made some good non-confrontational comments.

It always irritates me when I go into a business and they have FOX news on. Doesn't seem like a very smart thing to do. I'll bet that I'm not the only one who goes elsewhere.

NitWit1 said...

Since I describe myself one step right of center, I would not have had a comment either especially when a ticket was soon to be written.

I am annoyed by the extreme left and extreme right. There seems now to be no middle ground to be found.

Even the courthouse tried to make be choose a party to automatically mail me primary ballots. I told her to forget it because we did lean toward one party but prefer and have voted for both parties.

I try to avoid two subjects unless I am so close to someone I know disagreement does not mean war: religion and politics.

Grandma Yellow Hair said...

Like you a few years ago I would have probably spoke up but I have been so good here lately about keeping Ms Pearl under control that I am pretty sure I would of did just like you.
Glad you did because like you mentioned no telling what he would of charged you for putting it on for you.
I avoid subjects like this if at all possible
Love
Maggie

Eileen said...

I would have done as you did. I've learned that arguing with anyone with such strong ideas is a lose-lose proposition.

Far better to take the deal and find yourself another mechanic. Or keep the mechanic but keep all conversation to a minimum.