A tiny bit of background about my job - I work mostly in the back of the store where I work, primarily as the receiving lead. I check in and process each day's freight so it can go out to the floor and get sold to customers and blah blah blah - the cycle of commerce and what not. Most of the time, I'm back there with an other person who serves as my pricer - they price the merchandise and put it on carts so it can go out to the floor.
Today, my assistant was a girl who had worked at our store about two years ago, only to transfer to Florida to be with her boyfriend while he cared for his ailing grandmother (turns out, she did all the work and he refused to help or get a job - but that's a different story). She returned to our store a couple weeks ago, and it was good to have her back -- she was one of the most helpful people in the store during her first stint with us, always eager to assist and whatnot. Always good to have people like that around, right?
So we were back there, working and talking. We actually have a good deal in common, as it turns out. We both love to read, primarily fantasy/sci-fi type stuff, we both want to be writers, we're both working on novels right now... Lots of good stuff to talk about, and it was a very good conversation discussing favorite authors and books and talking about each of our books and the series we plan on making out of them.
I'm not even sure how it did, but the subject of global warming came up after a while. Her views on it were, shall we say, a bit misinformed. She subscribed to the belief that though the climate is changing, it's not driven by human activity. She also mentioned the phrase "global cooling." I mentioned that it's not "global warming," but rather "climate change" and that the changing climate often leads to more severe extremes at both ends of the weather spectrum. It never got to the point of being a heated debate, and we both moved on to different subjects. I figured that maybe she was just a bit misinformed - she's only 20, after all.
I was wrong.
I don't remember either how politics came up, but it did. We were talking a little bit about the issues with the government and how there are crooks on both sides of the aisle and all that. That led into her asking if I'd heard much about this "new party," an "up-and-coming grassroots movement" called the Tea Party.
I tried desperately not to laugh in her face when she said that. I only snickered a little bit. I consider that a victory.
For the next hour we went back and forth - politely and in a civilized manner, I will admit - about various things. The poor girl is just so deeply entrenched in Tea Party lore (that's the best word I could find to describe all their whimsical tales and ideas) that she's not anywhere close to seeing the sunlight. She seems to be walking around a lot with her eyes closed - which is something she mentioned that I was doing, by the way. Multiple Tea Party talking points came out of her mouth throughout the conversation, and it became clear to me that she very deeply believed so many of the lies that "association" spreads with the constant, meaningless flapping of their mouth holes.
She had never heard of Rush Limbaugh, though, so I gave her a little bit of credit for that.
She says she's done research and that she could show me some websites that would "really open (my) eyes" to the truth. Again, I had to hold back my laughter and the derision I wanted to pile upon her for believing such outright fabrications regarding just about everything plaguing American society.
It's Obama's fault, by the way, all of it. Did I mention she felt that way? Probably worth mentioning she feels that way.
Despite her talking about how the Democrats have an eight-step plan to destroy America that starts by allowing illegal immigrants into the country (she didn't mention the other seven steps, sadly), or how the people of the country are baking a pie and Obama is swooping in, taking half of that pie for himself, and giving back the other half to the rest of us, it was a very civil conversation. It never got heated, and she clearly believes very strongly all the misinformation and outright lies she's been fed for who knows how long. She just doesn't seem to see the blindingly glaring flaws that compose 97.4% of the Tea Party's overall structure (the other 2.6% are made up of a mixture of hot air, bologna, and straight up bullshit).
I'm going to try and work on her a little bit, week by week, as she works with me in back. I'll try to change her mind, bit by bit, and break through that thick layer of Tea Party ignorance and try and let a little sunlight in where I can. But it's going to be an uphill battle, no doubt about that. For those of you who will be doing the same with Tea Partier co-workers, friends, or family members you may know in your own lives, I wish you the best of luck.