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I just returned from three weeks in Scotland. Combination golf trip for my husband and visiting relatives and a road trip for me and my sister. The golf was great, the food was terrific (that’s a first) and the weather almost biblically bad. I swear Scotland is the only place you can be too cold and too hot at the same time. And you’re soaked and your hair’s a mess.
Even though it’s an activity I normally enjoy, I was wary about getting provoked into political discussions. This past election was too hard, and my own feelings too raw. The typical Scottish argument goes like this: something provocative and borderline insulting is said. When you respond in disagreement a hand is held up: whoa, whoa, whoa, we’re not talking politics. You then lamely try and make your point while everyone looks upon you like a troublemaker.
It happened over and over. But I simply didn’t respond. I shrugged. I said things like: it’s hard to explain. If you were me you might feel different. On a personal note, it took no effort. I seem to have entered a sort of zen-like state.
So it’s ironic that my only really bad experience was with a fellow Yank.
In Inverness, she approached my sister, my cousin, and me and offered to take our picture. I asked how she was enjoying Scotland and she said not at all. She and her husband were freezing to death and he wasn’t speaking to her. She then offered that they were looking for a country to move to as Trump was now president.
When I asked how easy it was to move to Scotland (knowing damn well it’s not; why do people think other countries don’t have borders and laws?) she replied not at all, so they were leaving to check out Portugal.
I said something nice like: I hear it’s lovely this time of year.
She then went on a tirade about how much Hate! Hate! Hate! there was in the states and that she had to leave. She then said something stupid about the Paris Accord, then how Trump was going to ruin the environment and/or blow up the world. But the Hate! Hate! Hate! was just too much for her to bear.
I’d finally had it. I just said: the hate I am experiencing right now is proof of your claim.
When she responded in confusion, I said: you’ve just approached three strangers and you have no idea their feelings on the matter, nor how they voted, nor the reasons why. And because my zen-like state had left the building, I said: nothing like two sons in the military to focus the mind.
We then turned and walked away, with her yelling at our backs. Which she continued to do until we finally turned a corner a few minutes later. For all I know she’s still yelling.
The good news is she took a great picture.
A cousin (who lives in Edinburgh, works for the NHS and enjoys six weeks of vacation per year, has literally vacationed in more countries than she can name and can’t be fired from her job), my sister Theresa (who was on her first vacation abroad since 1992) and me. I love this picture as for the first time the wind wasn’t blowing and my hair didn’t look like Donald Trump’s.