Vale*

Yesterday, the plumber who came to our apartment to replace our water heater informed me Kamala Harris was a communist.

I was caught off guard — not just by the vigorousness of his opinions but by the vigorousness of his need to tell me these opinions. It was like One America News Network had suddenly started broadcasting from my own house.

The thing was, even though he had the talking points down, he lacked nuance. An American plumber would never start a conversation like this with me; he’d save it for Facebook. And he certainly wouldn’t ask me who I voted for only two minutes before he asked me if I had a bucket, a rag, and a ladder.

The second thing was — I had to be impressed by this passion for American politics. Who in the U.S., whether plumber or professor, knows who the hell the president and vice-president of Spain even are, much less cares enough to debate their (supposed) foreign policy aims?

The third thing was, after the water heater was replaced and he was finally gone, I realized I’d just had a long conversation in Spanish without even thinking about it, completely lacking constraint. — Communist? I scoffed. There are no communists in the United States. We don’t even have public health care!

He reeled off a couple more talking points.

Well, that’s your opinion, I said, shrugging.

Yep, he said cheerfully, that’s my opinion.

Vale,* I said.

Vale,* he agreed, and then he said that in order to stop the toilet from running he would have to tear down our bathroom wall.

*OK.

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