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The Only Safe Answer Is A Silly One

, , , , , | Working | August 19, 2021

I attended high school in California but had family in a very red/conservative area of the Deep South; think an area where 95% of the voting-eligible population would vote for Jesse Helms. To induce me to spend time with them, that branch of the family would fly me out every summer and use their connections to get me a job in the area. I was not yet eighteen and thus not able to vote, and my political stances differed so much from those of the locals that I simply didn’t talk politics with my coworkers. I got along great with them as long as we talked about sports and told jokes.

It’s the summer of 1992, and since there’s a presidential election coming up — the first one I’ll be able to vote in, as by Election Day I’ll be eighteen — there’s more talk about politics than usual this summer. My co-workers finally notice that I’m not participating much in the lunchtime conversations.

Coworker #1: “Hey, [My Name]! Who are you voting for this year?”

I stay silent.

Coworker #2: “I’m voting for the guy in there already. Who wouldn’t? Right, [My Name]?”

He punches me lightly in the shoulder, the usual friendly gesture among guys.

Me: “Ummm…”

Coworker #3: “Come on, [My Name]! You have to tell us!”

An idea flashes into my head. At the time, Mack Brown is the highly successful football coach at the University of North Carolina.

Me: “It’s a secret. But maybe someone could bribe me with a chocolate chip cookie.”

The cafeteria has excellent cookies. [Coworker #4] returns in about thirty seconds with a chocolate chip cookie.

Coworker #4: “Here you go, [My Name]. Now tell us!”

I down the cookie in about two bites and clear my throat.

Me: “Thanks, [Coworker #4]. I’m writing in Mack Brown.”

Knowing how sports-obsessed — college football in particular — I am, my coworkers just nod and laugh.

Coworker #5: “Somehow, [My Name], I expected that from you.”

I didn’t write in Mack Brown, for the record.