As I’ve mentioned multiple times, I like my job. I won’t go so far as to say love, because, I mean, it is a job after all. And once I got the swing of unemployment, that really was a better gig. It didn’t pay as well, but a better gig nonetheless.
Still, I like this job. I like my boss. I like my coworkers. I am even coming to like the issues I work on.
But there is one pretty big problem.
Turns out, this jobs sorta turns me into one of those DC d-bags. You know the ones I’m talking about. The ones who think that people outside the beltway are wack-tovists who don’t get it and are sabotaging their own efforts. The ones who are so supremely partisan that they revel in the misfortunes of the other side. The ones who can’t have a normal conversation about a national issue without raising her voice and being a total jerk.
When I was lawyering and working at a firm, I, and the other lawyers I hung out with, mostly refrained from talking about work and “the law,” especially when non-lawyers were around. Because, please believe, the last thing a lawyer (at least, one like me) wants to talk about is “the law.” At least, not with a other lawyers over cocktails. That’s not a fun time for me. I mean, that is what work hours are for, right?
Anyway, I sorta feel the same way about politics. I never want to talk about politics, regardless of who’s around – a knowledgeable politico or a random person on the street. And definitely NOT someone with a clipboard.
But, different from the law where all you really have to offer is some arcane details about your motion practice (that’s not exactly true, but still), politics affects us all and everyone has a point of view.
And bad feelings by Dems about the Dem Party is something I just can’t seem to let slide. I sorta feel obligated to fight the fight for the Party and for my boss: Congress is working hard on this. Members are spending every waking hour on this. Yes, we have considered that possibility, and no, it’s not politically feasible. And yes, even Democrats – even the most progressive ones out there, even with Nancy Pelosi as Speaker of the House and a 260-something strong caucus, and even with 60 votes in the Senate – need to think about political feasibility. And no, that doesn’t make him or her a sell out.
So, instead of doing my normal deal and just answering the question I want to regardless of what was asked, I take these issues on head on. Often loudly and rudely. And I sound like a d-bag.
Moving forward, to sound less d-baggish when politics comes up, I am going to try to implement the following tactics:
- When an off-color comment is made about Dem Leadership or the President, I am going to fight the urge to roll my eyes and launch into the 15 reasons why the person is wrong. And stupid. Instead, I will change the subject.
“Wow, that’s a great shirt you have on! Where did you get it?”
“I’m really thirsty. Can I get you a drink?”
“Oh, I’m sorry, I see my friend. Please excuse me.”
- If the change-the-subject route doesn’t work and the person is persistent (which has happened to me many, many times at family events as people get more and more drunk), I will suggest that the person write a letter to their Member of Congress. So they can be heard. By someone else.
- If this tell-someone-else-your-problems approach doesn’t work, then there is only one thing to do: Go for the Achilles heel. I will bring up something super personal, about myself or about the person, that I know neither one of us wants to talk about. For example, with a man, I might just start talking about my “cycle” and my “flow” and how my last gyno visit went. With someone who’s kid was recently arrested or thrown out of school or otherwise unruly and known to be, perhaps a question or two about how little Johnny is doing might come up. For someone who recently lost their job, perhaps asking how the job search is going will come up. You know, like people used to do to me when I was unemployed. Again, this is the last resort, but I can tell you right now – I am not above this type of behavior.
Now, for non-politicos, this tact should work. But for a table full of politicos, this will be a much tougher lift. In these scenarios, I think I’m going to just keep excusing myself from the table until the conversation dissipates. Or maybe I’ll just start reading my blackberry, ignoring all those around me and not contributing at all until I can successfully change the subject.
I can see that this might make me a bigger d-bag at times. But I just can’t talk about the bullshit I do all day when I get home at night. It’s bad for me, it’s bad for those who have to endure my behavior, and I just don’t like myself when it happens.
So here we go – Operation No More D-Baggyness…
I’ll let you know how it goes.