Dear Gus:

You won’t remember me. I had been put in charge of selling the furniture at our church yard sale last summer and was measuring a small table when you backed your Chevy Silverado up to our loading area. Thinking you were picking up an item I walked up to the passenger side of your truck as your wife stepped out. I welcomed her and she walked off to the kitchen wares area.
I looked through the opened passenger window and said “Thanks for coming to our sale. Anything I can interest you in?”
“No,” you said “she’ll spend enough as it is.”

From that curt response and rather stern expression on your face I suspected you were not a happy camper with driving your wife around to yard sales. At that moment a deer fly landed on your steering wheel and you gave it a swat, missing it completely.

“I think the deer flies have found us” I said trying to sound cordial in an Adirondack kinda way.
“Not as bad as the damn mosquitoes. I’ve been coming back to our camp for twenty years and the bugs get worse every year. They need to start spraying again; I don’t understand why they stopped in the first place. It will only be a matter of time before diseases like Zika and malaria find their way north. I’ve got some stuff I use down in South Carolina. It’s an oil-based insecticide that works great. I’m going to bring it with me next year.”

As you spoke I was taking in your physical features. Before me was a man in his early seventies with a huge pot gut that just barely squeezed in behind the steering wheel. You had pasty white skin – probably a result of not spending much time outdoors with the mosquitoes – and a full head of crewcut white hair which reminded me of my father’s hairstyle from the early 1960s.
You dropped the mosquito torrent after a bit and continued: “But I don’t know how many more years we will be coming back to this damn state. We left in the first place to escape the taxes. I pay a total of $600 a year for all of my taxes in South Carolina. Cuomo is a crook and needs to be locked up; or worse. I’m sick and tired of supporting this state and its corrupt government and if it weren’t for the heat we wouldn’t be coming up here. She can’t take the heat. We have to run the AC all of the time; that costs a fortune, too.”

And then, without skipping a beat and finally turning your head to look at me, you said “And I’ll tell you something else, we need to build that wall, every damn inch of it. If this invasion continues we won’t recognize our country anymore. It won’t be America.”

All of this happened in one quick two minute, rapid fire monologue while I had my left arm resting on the opened window of the passenger door. When you came up for air the only thing I could think to say was “Are you sure I can’t help you find something in our yard sale?”
“No” you said “The wife will get enough stuff for both of us.”

At that moment I was called away by another customer so I wished you a nice day and returned to my responsibilities. About fifteen minutes later you pulled out of our parking area and I watched you drive down the road and fade from view.

Gus, I am writing you to apologize. I made some basic assumptions about you based on a very brief encounter – and that is not right. And, yes, if we were to have a longer conversation I suspect we would find ourselves on opposite ends of an ideological spectrum. But what if we were to get together, maybe for a barbeque and a few beers, and have a long conversation? If we were to peel back some of the layers do you think we could find some common ground? Maybe even enjoy each other’s company?

We have so much we could talk about. Do you have grandchildren? I have six. Do you like to fish? Trout or bass? I go for pike myself. I saw the 1st Army sticker on your bumper. I was drafted in 1972. My first car was a ’53 Chevy. You?
Let’s get together soon…and just talk.

Your friend,
Bill

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