By Ron Scopelliti

Thinking it over a plunger, rubber gloves might be needed

I can’t deny it – I tend to overthink things.

For instance, on Labor Day weekend I was at a deli, and when my order was completed, the deli guy said “Have a good holiday.” I responded with “you too.” But when I started responding, it hadn’t yet registered that he had said “Have a good holiday.” I expected him to say “Have a good day.” So when I said “you too,” I was actually only wishing him a “good day” in general, rather than a “good holiday.” I felt I should explain that to him, but I decided that would probably be rather complicated, and there were people waiting in line. He probably wouldn’t care, so why should I?

Another case. This summer I was drinking coffee at a place in Garden City when I noticed that there was a Crate and Barrel next door. I couldn’t help thinking about the fact that they don’t sell crates or barrels, or anything resembling them. I’m sure some of the stuff they sell arrives in crates, but I seriously doubt that anything they stock comes in barrels. I had to content myself with the fact that there’s a place right next to it called The Container Store, and they actually sell containers. Sometimes the world makes sense.

So The Container Store makes perfect sense, but I still can’t make any sense of the big thing I’ve been overthinking – the elephant in the room that’s been waiting to stick its trunk into this column: the election.

Because of The Smithfield Times production schedule, I had about a week after the election to finish my column. I was hoping that in that time I’d come up with something meaningful and insightful to say. Some sort of screed against our political parties, our electoral system, or the societal circumstances that resulted in the election of what I see as the greater of two evils. But I’ve got nothing.

I’ve been reading, and talking, and listening, and pondering, but I’m still at a loss as to why we now have Donald Trump as President-elect. And I can’t stop worrying about what the future ramifications of the election might be. Will he really name Rudy Giuliani as Secretary of State? If he does, he might as well appoint Sarah Palin to the Supreme Court – it would make just as much sense. Will he start a nuclear war after a Twitter spat with Vladimir Putin? I’ve got no answers – just a lot of questions to overthink.

Maybe I’m overreacting as well as overthinking. Maybe President Trump will show more common sense and class than candidate Trump. At least he’s toning down some of his more extreme campaign rhetoric. For instance, he’s backed off on challenging same-sex marriage, and he recently said that part of his wall along the Mexican border might just be a fence. I’m hoping he’ll further downgrade the wall so that parts of it will be a hedge – maybe a nice arborvitae.

On the other hand, his paranoid assertion that he’d been targeted by “professional protestors” leads me to believe that he’s the same old Trump, and that any change is superficial. That opinion was reinforced ten-fold when he made his Stephen Bannon appointment.

I suppose the thing to do is to take it day by day. To be prepared for the worst, but not to take it as a given. To keep thinking, but not overthinking. And to not lose hope. In particular, I hope that the system of checks and balances that was so highly-touted in social studies classes will actually hold up and keep the country somewhat stable. I still think we’re in a terrible situation, but I suppose it could be worse.

I’m reminded of an incident a couple of months ago when I was checking out at Target. After I paid for a plunger and a box of rubber gloves, the cashier wished me a nice afternoon. I was tempted to note that my purchase indicated that I wouldn’t be having a nice afternoon. But then it occurred to me – it would be an even worse afternoon if I didn’t have those items to work with.

So for now I’ll stay hopeful, and stay thoughtful, and remember that we have to work with what we’ve got. With any luck I’ll still have a plunger and a supply of rubber gloves when it comes time to clean up in four years.