So a co-worker asks me today, "McCain or Obama?" In hindsight, the appropriate response probably should have been "Who?", or "What the hell are you talking about?", or maybe just "You're a damned fool." But this random co-worker, whom I barely know, who I'm certain knows nothing at all about me, prefaces his out-of-nowhere query with "Since I value your opinion..." And, what can I say, I'm not immune to flattery, so I foolishly try to make up something profound and worthy of the compliment. Instead, what comes out is "I don't believe that picking one man over another makes a whole lot of difference."
Fortunately or unfortunately, he doesn't really care what I have to say and instead launches into a clearly premeditated speech in favor of or against McCain and/or Obama, which, as I stand there nodding, I hear none of, because I don't care about anything he has to say either. While that may seem a fair exchange on some level, the reality is that he sought out this farce probably knowing where we each stood and is likely satisfied just to have an excuse to hear himself talk. I, on the other hand, having walked unsuspecting into his trap, am not at all satisfied having my time wasted. And so, as whole minutes tick by and he keeps talking at me about nothing, I'm desperately thinking how to end this. Whatever this guy may think, my patience is not infinite, and inside I'm screaming, "Shut your damn mouth and just do your job." And then it dawns on me. We are at work.
A delicate situation. A dangerous topic. To proceed may offend, yet to walk away may be no better. But the decision ultimately is not mine. There are procedures in place. And so, after a quick glance in the direction of the bossman's office just a short distance away, door open, I say to this guy, "Actually, we probably shouldn't be discussing politics in here." He snaps out of it, seemingly taking the hint, and we both get on with our lives. Crisis averted.