My new coworker is gleeful. The town she grew up in - a town of 600 if we're being generous, was featured on CNN as being the most pro Drumpf town in the United States. She seems oddly proud of their newfound "fame," even though she also enjoys Alec Baldwin's impressions of him.
"Yeah, it's real far out there. When we go I have to drive because after awhile the streets don't have names. You have to know how to get there. I'm friends with the Sheriff. I told him I'm coming so they better not pull me over!" Everyone laughs.
"How many kids did you graduate with?" I quipped.
"About six. And two of em was pregnant." she replied with a smile. "We did it all backwards having the kids before we went to school. I got my associates with two of 'em. I'm proud of what I did."
Overheard in the office - a conversation between three older Texans. None of them live in the city and two of them live an hour away from the border, which is where our office is. "Well, we know Obama has the death squads. We know that. And the media done try and tell us different but they can't fool us." "Hey... did y'all see the girl next door with the blue hair. What is happening to this city?" "Bless their hearts."
Seen on the outskirts of town - a rough and tumbled country man with four Drumpf bumper stickers on his beat up early 90's model truck. His hair, skin, beard, and overalls are covered in a gray grease, rubbed into his skin for good from a lifetime of manual labor. He's returning to the truck with beers and a fresh smoke cradled between his lips. As he plays the scratch off on the hood of his truck it's clear this moment is his savings account. He loses $20.
From the project managers desk: a picture of the deer he shot during his last hunt. He drew in a speech bubble over it. "I was going to testify against Hillary."
"You ever been hunting on the east coast Steve? They'd make you tag that guy and report the kill so they can manage the wildlife," I say to him wryly. "Hahaha. Oh, that sounds like Mexico." he replies jokingly. Silly liberal boy.
"Just about everyone I know had kid by the time they were 22" my coworker says. "I don't know why that is. I think some of it has to do with being farmers. We didn't always live that long."
"When I was in high school our health teacher took out a banana and showed us how to put a condom on. I think that has something to do with it too," I replied.
"I thought that only happened in the movies! Well yes, we do like to pretend [sex] doesn't happen at school," she admits.
"There's this new trend I keep hearing about and I forget what it's called but it's where people move in to a neighborhood and the residents who were already there get kicked out and usually they are minorities." The owner of my company says to me.
"Ah yes, gentrification," I reply. "I have been guilty of gentrifying myself. But I think the real question we should ask is why they can't afford to keep up their property in the first place." He chews on that.
I'm at the bank and my teller is putting it in the system that I'm heading to New York. She is also heading home to small town USA for Christmas. I turn around and walk away.
"Merry Christmas" I say in my grittiest New York accent. 'That accent came out stronger than usual' I think to myself. 'And my back was turned to her while I said it, I was already walking away. God, I'm still such a New Yorker.'
She just giggles, "Y'all too!"
Today I will fly to one of the largest metro areas in the Western Hemisphere. When I touch down I will be greeted with an exhaustive array of mass transit options. During that same time, my coworker will be driving on unmarked dirt roads in the Texas country side, roads she has memorized to get home. I am humbled by how far apart our worlds are and how simple life remains in certain parts of this country.