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Tacos and Nazis

Dec 22, 2023
Reading time 3 min.

Getting from tacos to Nazis was easier than I thought. I didn't have to look too hard for that connection. It found me.

Tucson has over 1200 restaurants. Half of them serve tacos, many of which are food trucks scattered around the city. Having spent several winters in Tucson, my partner and I had ample opportunity to sample the fare offered by many of those trucks. We definitely found our favorites. Not surprisingly, they tend to be located at strategic intersections that coordinate with our daily activity of biking or hiking.

We completed a strenuous six-mile hike at Saguaro East National Park. We were hot, dirty, and starving. The drive back to our house passes through the intersection of Speedway and Houghton. And yes, one of our favorite food trucks is located at that intersection. It has amazing tacos and Sonoran hotdogs.

In all the times we have stopped at that food truck, I have never seen another person selling anything. This time, there was a man with a pickup truck loaded with newly cut firewood. The truck was cobbled together, made with the body parts of several unrelated trucks. The man was middle-aged and somewhat disheveled. We had a very brief exchange. I acknowledged the effort that must have gone into cutting all that wood. The man reflexively asked if I was interested in purchasing any and added that he was trying to earn some money for Christmas gifts. Explaining that I had no fireplace and was not interested in the wood.

In that brief exchange, I felt a connection. I helped that man be seen and acknowledged for his work and effort. For me, validation as a human being is important. I want to know that my efforts are seen and acknowledged.

My partner and I were sitting in the shade, finishing our lunch. We were there for at least 30 minutes. During that time, no cars stopped to purchase any of the firewood. I couldn't help but notice that man struggling to locate and place a small handwritten sign advertising the wood. Having some experience in marketing, I felt compelled to offer some simple advice about where to place the sign. I suggested two more prominent signs mounted on the lamppost near the intersection so cars in both directions could see them.

He thanked me for my suggestion and immediately dropped into a lecture about how I should vote Republican because all Democrats are Nazis. In an instant, we went from two humans sharing a common connection to a hate-filled tirade. It's incredible how fast a brain can process information, especially when it perceives danger. In my very triggered mind, what I wanted to say was, "I lost half my family to the Nazis, and my father was wounded fighting them. You have no fucking idea about what you are talking about". I could also feel how saying that would only fuel that person's hatred, confusion, and lack of self-awareness. I put my hand up to shield myself and told him he had just squandered an opportunity for connection.

I was firmly entrenched in a "WTF" moment. I am left amazed and bewildered as to where that behavior arises from. Why wasn't it enough to appreciate the connection between two people? To me, that is not the behavior of a sane being.

I have written many times about living my life with a clear mind and an open heart. I left that interaction feeling the need to protect myself and my partner from the unhealed projections of other people's minds and unsettled behavior. Maybe more now than ever, I aspire to live an impeccable life based on my integrity and accountability. Most importantly, I need to live a life based on kindness, compassion, and understanding.

Amidst the chaos and uncertainty of life, I remain open to Grace and the gift of my life.

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