Yesterday I had a conversation with a woman that just about made my head explode. She was telling me how she thinks we should have nationalized health care, but she doesn’t like the Obamacare we have now.
“But that’s not his fault. I know Obama wanted something better for the country, but the Republicans just wouldn’t cooperate with him, so we wound up with this mess.”
I explained to her how the Obamacare legislation was rammed through, how everybody was jumping up and down saying, “Wait, we can’t vote on this because it’s over 1,000 pages long and we haven’t had time to read it. We don’t even know what’s in it,” and how democrats said publicly, “We have to pass the bill to find out what’s in the bill.”
The woman with whom I was conversing couldn’t believe that. I told her to look it up on Youtube. She said multiple times how wrong it is to say you have to pass something to find out what’s in it. But? She still thought that the Obamacare mess is the fault of uncooperative Republicans. It’s no coincidence, I suppose, that she is drowning under a pile of medical bills she can’t pay.
At any rate, I wanted to bang my head against a wall by the time I got home. Instead, I got on Facebook and messaged a friend who I knew would appreciate and sympathize with the frustration I was feeling. He started sharing stories of things he’s seen in his part of the good ol’ US of A: people who live in trailers but have big, expensive pick up trucks (I’ve seen that, too! I say), a friend who had a job she loved but had to quit it and take a job she hates, but which pays more, so that she can help pay for her husband’s truck (Ugh! I say).
But then all that talk of expensive trucks and lack of funds for which to pay for them reminded me of another story. I shared that story with him, and now I’m going to share it with you.
When McH and I were first dating, when we got engaged, and when we got married, he drove a shiny, black pick up truck. This is something apparently all American males dream of? I don’t know. But he had his pickup truck, and I had my little, black 1988 Ford Escort GT. I loved that car. I bought it used my junior year in college. It drove me back and forth across the United States several times. It took me on many jaunts to Chicago after my best friend and her husband moved there. It took me to work, it took me to play; it was my first vehicle of true, adult independence, and I cherished it. I would have kept it forever . . .
. . . Except by the time I got pregnant with A~ it had over 140,000 miles on it and it was dying. Things weren’t working right, and new things were starting to not work right. Fixing it would have cost way more than it was worth as it was worth almost nothing by then.
McH didn’t want his wife and his unborn child driving around in a car that wasn’t reliable, wasn’t safe, so he traded in his shiny, black man-truck, we gave away my Ford Escort to a man who needed transportation but had nothing to pay for it, and we got two Ford Tempos instead. We did all of this because, together, we had decided that I would quite my job once the baby came. A shiny, black man-truck payment and another payment for whatever we got to replace my already-paid-off Escort was going to be way more than we could afford. I should probably explain that I didn’t browbeat him into this decision to part with his blue-blooded American symbol of manliness. I didn’t even ask him to do it. It was his idea.
I did quit my job, and even with two cheap car payments we barely scraped by. I went back and did substitute teaching here and there to help put food on the table, but I never had to leave my child and go to work to pay for a truck that did nothing a gaudy, teal Tempo couldn’t do (other than haul stuff we couldn’t afford anyway and stoke the male ego). I’ve never had to work a day in my life for his ego.
My Facebook friend got an abbreviated version of this story, but I ended with, “If more people would live like that, our country would be in a lot better shape.”
He wrote back, “Agreed.”
No, McH isn’t the only one to have made sacrifices in our marriage, but I’m grateful for the sacrifices he has made. The world may be going to hell in a hand basket, but it’s so nice to be able to look over at my husband and know he’s not contributing to that, to know that, together, in our small corner of the world, we can stem the tide just a little bit.
Nineteen years and six kids later, and Tewt the Newt is still impressed.