Almost a sad night at work tonight. Here's the story as it is developing.
As a new hire, I found it sort of hard to 'fit in' with any of the established friendships of the group. I was the new guy, and it took time for my colleagues to get to know me and so forth. Eventually I formed a few really good friendships. One was with a nurse who had been hired after me. I could relate with the initial not knowing of anybody and struck up a friendship with her. It was made all the easier by our shared prior military service and sense of humor. As the months progressed, our friendship seemed to strengthen. Until tonight.
I was perusing the CNN website, or maybe Time, and had an article up about Barak Obama. She happened to look over my shoulder and make a comment about how she would not be voting for him, since she was a Republican. I had already sort of pegged her for one, but political views seldom effect a friendship for me. Then she made the following remarks...
"I would never vote for a guy who was named Barak HUSSEIN Obama, or a guy who grew up with a Muslim upbringing. It's probably all a part of their plan."
I thought at first she was joking around, so I said " The Democrats?"
"No, the terrorists." she said.
Now, anyone who knows me is well aware of my intolerance of bigots and small minded people. I guess you could say I am a bigot against bigots. But this was the first time I had actually watched as the brain of someone who I had come to really like and respect actually seemed to shrink before my eyes. Like watching the heart of the Grinch shrink down. Part of me continued to probe, hoping that she really was just pulling my leg.
One of the reasons I quit when I worked at Mayo was because of a conflict between me and another co-worker when she spouted off about her distaste for anyone not white, Christian and straight. Unfortunately, my supervisors took her side in the dispute, and said I had overreacted. Long story short, I tendered my resignation to focus on Paramedic school.
I will not quit here, because this is the job I was trained to do, and a job I love doing. I worry greatly about this new and unfortunate twist. Our last conversation tonight was her asking me why the other medic and I wouldn't take the rig out to get her a snack. Not an uncommon request from the hospital bound staff here, and one that all of us grey shirts have done from time to time. And I told her flat out that I was very disappointed with her for her bigoted views, and that any requests she had of me outside of what was professionally required would no longer be considered. I was pretty sure I had terminated the friendship because of it.
So, have I lost a friend? One who is intolerant and close minded? Was she actually serious? Bigotry is a friendship ender for me, more than anything else.
How do we define friendship? A group of like minded people? Some of the best friends I have are the polar opposite of me on some things. I suppose it is like an attraction. You see something in the individual that you like, strike up a conversation, and choose to include or exclude them based on those conversations. In my mind, someone whom I find very attractive friend-wise or other, can suddenly shrink to a non-entity based on a remark here or an action there. Perhaps that is why I have so few really close friends. Those that I know I will still love regardless of their future actions. Because they have been with me long enough and withstood the test of time. They've been vetted through our conversations and hanging out together.
Hmm. I'm very tired tonight. Perhaps not the best time to choose to shut someone out completely. Here's holding out some hope that she was kidding. And wondering how to talk with her about it. Wondering how to explain to someone just how serious an issue this is to me, and wondering why it is such an issue to me.