Nodding and Smiling

Once upon a time I recall driving by one of our local bail bonds businesses rather late at night and noticing that they were open. It struck me what an odd job it must be to be a bail bondsman. Aside from the (in my opinion) upside of getting to be open late at night, you really have to be a very Zen, non-judgmental type. (Actually, Tao might be the more appropriate eastern philosophy, but "Zen" just sounds so cool.)


I mean, seriously, your entire business revolves around people getting arrested and thrown in jail. And people get arrested and thrown in jail for all kinds of reasons. You can't just pick and choose and say "yeah, well your [email protected] kid probably deserved it!" when some mom comes in crying because she can't afford to bail Junior out at 3 a.m. after he's peppered the neighborhood with a BB gun.


Nope. I admire the bail bondsman — you gotta be coooooool to thrive in that business.


And so this is what I was thinking the other day while keeping my head down and the file moving, listening to some client or other going on and on about something I totally disagreed with.


Used to be, back in the day, I was full of more p!ss and vinegar — as Grandpa used to put it — and I always had the energy to jump into a controversial debate. You know, exactly the type that those business advice know-it-alls insist we not have at work? Pshaw. My clients used to thrive on those debates. We had a blast. And I'm a firm believer in exercising my first amendment rights — and allowing others to do the same, as long as everyone can agree to disagree and still come out smiling in the end and not take anything too seriously.


Of course, my clients and I are all older now. I know I don't have the energy any more and I have fewer and fewer clients that have the energy either — let alone that all-important willingness to agree to disagree. Nope. It just seems like these days I encounter more and more people who have their minds made up to the degree that they aren't really willing to be reminded that not everyone agrees with them. Or that maybe, just maybe, the people who don't agree aren't evil, or wrong per se, but just happen to have a different perspective that led them to a different opinion. I do recognize those people, and just keep my head down and the file moving.


Thing is, these people come in every other week, sit face to face with me and hold hands with me for an hour. It's a bizarrely intimate experience we provide. Think about it — even a bikini wax, as intimate as that is on one level, doesn't force you to befriend each other. You don't spend that time face to face. In fact, it absolutely perplexes me that a significant percentage of the nail industry has become so successful by eliminating that intimacy. One wonders if the average American woman isn't actually interested in that anymore?


At any rate, these people spill their guts to me. They tell me all manner of personal information from their biological cycles to their political and religious opinions. They share all manner of prejudices with me, and the thing that curls my toes every time is that they expect me to share their prejudices with them. Whatever they are. Whether it's racial, or political, or — good grief — I don't want to talk about "gay marriage" rights anymore!


And, quite simply put, I don't. Most of the time I hear these statements and I think to myself, "OMG, why do people need to hate other people so much?" Which might make for an interesting thesis someday — except if I ever finish college I'm getting a science degree. I'm not monkeying around with psychology. That stuff will drive you to drink! Imagine trying to figure out the human brain! So I keep my head down and the file moving. I spend a lot of time these days nodding and smiling. If it's something I really don't agree with, I'll let you know. I may have reached an age where I'm more willing to keep the peace, but that doesn't mean compromising my own beliefs. But these days you really have to go overboard before I'll look you in the eye and tell you the way it really is.


So it's just me and the bail bondsman these days, working till well after dark, nodding and smiling to pay our bills — and you'll never hear either of us tell you that your [email protected] kid deserved it.


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