"Is your husband home?" the guy at the front door asked. My husband had seen this guy’s ad in the newspaper and asked him to clean out our gutters. Two days earlier he had come by to scope out the job. I had shown him the places where water jets out during a heavy rain, he walked arou"nd the house and he gave me an estimate. Now he was back.
"No, he’s at work," I told him, "but just go ahead and do the job."
"Okay," he said, "will this be check or cash?"
That threw me. Usually people ask if you would rather pay with a check or a credit card. I didn’t want to make waves, though, so I asked, "Which do you prefer?"
"Cash is always nice," he said.
While he set up his ladder and strapped a leaf blower on his back, I headed to the bank. I don’t keep much cash on hand, and during this pandemic most places I go to only take a credit card anyway. When I returned home, I saw his pickup from a different angle. He had a red Trump hat on his dashboard.
When he finished the job he rang the front doorbell again. I asked how it went and if he saw anything I should know about. He was slick with sweat, and dark bits of gutter gunk that he had blown out peppered his face and neck.
"Meet me back at the garage," I told him. "I’ll bring you a glass of ice water and your money."
The kids have broken almost all our glasses, so I looked in the kitchen cabinet for a big mug. It would take a lot of water and ice to cool him off. I touched the handle of my largest mug. It has the image of a name tag on it and says "Hello. My name is: Nasty Woman, PhD." Nah, I thought. I grabbed a slightly smaller cup covered with pastel polka dots, scooped ice cubes into it and filled it with water.
"Looks like we’re on opposite ends of the political spectrum," I said as I handed him the mug outside. "I see you have a MAGA hat in your pickup."
"Yeah, and I’m going to have a big Trump 2020 sign put on my tailgate," he said, "but I have to wait until the guy can get to me." Then he told me about the t-shirt, poster and other paraphernalia he already had.
"Is that right," I said. "Well, I hope he loses so badly that it shames even someone as shameless as him."
We went back and forth for a bit, both of us dug in on our sides but never losing our friendly tone. "Trump’s smart," he told me. "And he’s a businessman."
"Have you ever lost a job," I asked, "after someone saw your red Trump hat?"
"What? No," he said.
If I would have seen that hat when he came to give an estimate, I would have said thanks but no thanks. There are plenty of people who clean gutters who don’t support Trump or at least don’t wave it in your face. And I know there are plenty of customers who would love to give the job to a guy with a red hat. Or a Confederate flag. Or a capital Q. Not me.
"Well, I don’t want to talk about politics," he said.
That got me. He was talking plenty with his red hat, tailgate sign and posters. And I understand. I have my mug. A friend gave me a pin with Robert Mueller’s face on it. After Michael Brown was killed in 2014, I bought Black Lives Matter yard signs from the Ferguson public library. Each one of them was stolen during the night, and eventually I quit replacing them.
He handed me the empty mug. I handed him his money and said, "Thanks for your work." As he drove off and I closed the garage door it hit me that he had cash in his pocket and I had no receipt. The guy who wants Trump to win because he is a smart businessman won’t be paying any income taxes on that money. Sounds about right, I thought.