The picture has nothing to do with this post except that what got me thinking on this theme was the flight back from Warsaw. We had just come from Barcelona (of which the lamp above is typical), spent the night in the Warsaw Marriott, had our last Polish meal (unfortunately more international hotel style than Polish), our last shots of Polish vodka in a Polish bar, and that morning wandered the few metres across the road into the crowded and disorganized airport.
Military types were monitoring bulky scanners set up before the actual check ins and it was both work and faith to get in the right lines which snaked through each other. Shorter lines were hard to determine because Poles in the know had people saving their place. You’d have a couple of people in front of you and suddenly they would be fifteen.
You could tell the Poles from the foreigns solely from the size of the suitcases. Still the Soviet hangovers of bulk and drab. Really not all that different from the ones below though the people looked a little different. And of course, no ship was actually in the airport. But otherwise…
So there we are in the lineup. About twenty people ahead of me stands a man who is maybe a little younger than me but my height, looking like he would be both argumentative yet easy to push over, and he is wearing my shirt.
The shirt in question is not exactly my shirt. The one I have on, is fairly unique, having been obtained through back channels through connections, and I look good in it. It makes me feel good. Its kind of European sleek cut, blue toward the dark end of the spectrum, and all weather perfect so it was very trip worthy. The one he has is a cheaper version but close.
Now I’m like most people. I like my looks some days and some days I really don’t. Usually when I have this shirt on, I like the way I look (and others say it works for me). It really did not work on this guy, and I couldn’t help but think he was a cheaper version of me as well. And he was on my flight.
When he got off in Toronto, I had visions of him continuing on the last leg of my flight as well, and perhaps on his way to a new job in my office. But there the drama ended. But here’s the thing; he was a goof and he was wearing essentially what I was and it devalued my shirt somehow.
Just today I was reading about Hedy Fry, a Liberal MP, criticizing the Conservative government on their harm reduction stand. I am no fan of the Conservatives; I think their approach to crime and drugs is in itself criminal and absurd but Fry is a nutbar. She attained notoriety years ago when she did a little McCarthy like public lying saying she knew of crosses being burnt on lawns, fueling the spectre of rampant racial hatred in the suburbs. Somehow she survived this and other lunatic moves to get reelected.
She is right on this issue and that really annoys me. With friends like that you start worrying about your own position and almost feel compelled to take the opposite view. She stands for many things I am against, the prime ones being dishonesty and fear mongering. In fact, I dislike her enough to not bother to look her up to see if I spelled her name right.
We like people to agree with us but we want it to be for the right reasons, and we would also like them to mirror us in other ways. Vegetarians and non-smokers probably don’t take comfort from the fact that one of their most ardent supporters was Adolf Hitler. Sometimes I wish those people would continue to be wrong about the things I care about. Perhaps part of the concern is that if Hedy thinks what I do, maybe I made a mistake somewhere. In this case, there is a clearer greater evil; she is standing up against a government that gets almost everything wrong so its not too much of a dilemma for me.
I guess it really comes down to that people and ideologies are not perfect matches. Sometimes you have to like and respect people opposed to you in most ways and other times you have to avoid those who somehow ended up on your team but you really don’t know why.