It’s Inauguration Day. And while those words specifically have both personal and global ramifications for us all, I’ve been dreading this day for more reasons than one.
I’ve been dreading it because the Bible Study group that meets in the corner of my bar on Friday mornings is comprised of some of Donald Trump’s biggest fans. Which, as a Christian, is a complete anomaly that I will never understand. I’m dreading their satisfied smirks, their determination to uphold antiquated values brought forth by classically educated men such as themselves. But, interestingly enough, they are respectfully somber today. Quiet in their understanding of the tumultuous conditions of this nation. And I respect that.
No, it isn’t the Bible Study that concerns me as I step into the bar, tying on my apron and tidying my rain soaked hair. The heavens are in a stage of upheaval today; they are positively mourning the activities of this great nation in torrential downpours and fierce winds. Trump’s inauguration is, ironically, the very thing that will pull us out of this drought.
No, it isn’t the Bible Study. It is the group of women, whose cheers I can hear from across the restaurant.
“You’re not going to want to go back there,” my manager says. But in truth, I have no choice.
They’re drinking Bloody Mary’s, clinking one salted rim against the next, offering up a vigorous cheer as the television broadcasts the departure of the Obamas.
“Bye,” they shout at the TVs, craning their necks in sheer owl-like displays of mobility, possessed by conservative morales that seek to justify every crime committed against the neighbors we pretend do not exist. The jobless women, whose husbands’ bank accounts front the bill of their overpriced beverages, pull out their recently updated iPhones, snap chatting the moment in which a great man’s legacy is cast aside into the gutter to make room for the trash that is to come.
And I can’t wait for the day when their 15 year old daughters come home pregnant. They won’t be cheering then, when Planned Parenthood has been extinguished in the face of upholding absurd and ridiculous ideals. They’ll be wishing he’d never boarded that plane, that he’d never left, that they’d never sat in my bar, clinking their glasses together, shattering my ear drums with their outrageously disrespectful shouts of triumph in the face of great loss.
A bar is a public place. Respect that. Respect the fact that some of us are mourning; that some of us are deeply concerned. That this isn’t a sporting event. That the busboy who stops by to refill your coffee is terrified of the sheer force of the word deportation staring him in the face. That, on the day following the election, a customer told him that he ought to make all the money he can while he is still permitted to live within our borders. That a regular asked his size and came in with a bag of clothes, custom ordered as a parting gift, because there are no Ralph Lauren’s in Mexico.
Feel his fear. Let it soak in. He has children here. This life is all he’s ever known he went to high school down the street, at the very school from which you graduated. His Spanish has grown rusty; he has become acclimated to our culture and our way of life and anything else would be far too foreign and far too strange.
“The white people are cheering today,” he says to me, his eyes downcast; his heart a shattered mess of broken pieces.
“Not all of them,” I say. And I place a hand upon his shoulder, the cacophony of chaos overflowing all around us—the rattling of dishes, the sharp, crisping crunch of a butter knife carving out it’s path over a slice of toast.  And in that moment, I recognize a solidarity and love and compassion that these women will never know.
Be cautious with your words. With your actions with your triumphs and your victories. Because those may very well be someone else’s downfall.  Your win is always someone’s loss.