Monday, September 24, 2012

Old people

A friend, I believe it was Holly, posted a status update on Facebook that more or less was an order to listen to the stories of the elderly. It reminded me of something I wanted to share that happened during my stay at the polling station during the election.

Our polling station, like many, was located in a home for the elderly and some of the residents were the first to vote. At some point a mobile 80-something man walked in and greeted us enthusiastically. He told us he had done our duty for over 40 years but was judged to old by 'them' to provide the service any longer. I told him I'd still allow him to vote nevertheless on which he replied: "Oh son, I'll vote until the day I die. We built this country, you know." I couldn't help to smile and say: "Oh, we all make mistakes."

He gave me a hard look but then smiled. "You young guys think you know everything, right?" "Not everything, just different things." With a soft 'Hmmm' he walked into the booth to cast his vote.

When I walked to a counter a few hours later to get us some coffee I saw him sitting at a table nearby. He gestured me to come over and when I did, asked what I meant by the different things I knew. I told him that, as much I knew about current affairs and the way businesses need to be run nowadays, I do recognize that we lack in the history of things. And this history is sometimes needed to get to the problem.

"You know. I used to consult businesses." "And what do you do these days?" I asked. "Look around. This is what I do. I sit here and read the newspaper." "Why?" It was clear he hadn't expected that question. "Good question. I guess I'm no longer wanted." he said after some deliberation. "Has anyone said that?" I went on. "Not in those words but that's the feeling I got."

"I make you a deal. I'll have you picked up by a cab in a few weeks and you'll visit me in my offices. We'll drink some coffee and have a chat. If nothing comes from it you at least have a day away from this." He thought about it for a sec and then handed me a very old business card. "That's my phone number." he said. "You have to add a 6 to it for it to work." I laughed. "I'm old enough to know that." And he laughed too.

This Thursday he will be picked up.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Oh yeah

The results of our elections on Wednesday were more or less predicted. The polls hadn't taken into account the fact that voters would switch to the lead candidate in their perspective political corner when push came to shove. But I, for one, wasn't surprised.
What was somewhat funny however was the analysis made by most international media. From the US to Korea, from the UK to Russia, the elections were judged to be an enormous vote of confidence for the Euro and the European Union but the reality is that we didn't care about that in this election.

Yes, the two parties on the left and right that are against the Euro and EU didn't have as much success as was predicted but if we for some reason will have new elections in 3 months, one year or two years I can give you in writing that exactly those two parties will show huge gains. Not because we are tired of Europe but they are the alternative to the mainstream party on the left and right. The only thing that can prevent us from 'moving from Europe' in the next election is a full term (4 years) in office of whatever coalition is agreed on. They probably will need some economic progress during those years as well and that may be something beyond their control.

Anyway the elections were followed by our 16th anniversary on Thursday and Nath's birthday on Friday. I could mention it was her 43rd but I won't. What I will mention is that they were two days of good food, good wine and good company. I have a few things that happened that I may share on another date but more as a funny then a serious.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

The decision

Thursday morning I was in the office trying to create a solution for a distribution problem (software related) when a knock on my door interrupted my thought pattern. My partner Lisa and her life partner Alex asked if they could have 15 minutes of my time. I gestured them in and they sat down.

First off they told me to listen and not interrupt. Good thinking on their part *LOL*. And then they began. Five years into their relationship they feel they want to get married and have picked a date next spring and also got the location tied up. Problem however is that in that town there is no public servant who wants to close a same sex marriage. Religious beliefs, consciences difficulty, bla bla bla. However if you provide one you can still use the location as it is public property. And they had caught a rumour I was qualified to be that person.

They went on with mentioning the fact I don't like to speak in public and will not ever marry myself but countered those downsides with my support for gay marriage and expressing they couldn't think of anyone else they would love to marry them. They sugarcoated it even more but I won't mention those because it will make me blush. Let's just say they respect me.

So after they finished with "Will you be the man who marries us?" I had several emotions competing for first place and couldn't answer and had to ask for a day to think things over. Lisa quickly added that the thinking should include talking to Nathalie about it. Clever woman she thinks she is. Lisa knows that Nathalie and Hanneke are the only ones I would go against myself for.

But here was my dilemma: It is not that I don't like to speak in public. I hate it. Also I do not support gay marriage. I support equal rights but am still at war with or undetermined on (depends on the day) the concept of marriage. But also was I extremely honoured to be asked and this was my business soul mate asking. And yes, would I apply, because of other things I have done, I qualify for a special permit to marry people.

I spend most of the evening thinking about this and went to bed with my mind occupied. It was 4AM when I woke Nath and let her in on my decision. Her reaction was simple: "Ah, so that was what had you today. Well you obviously put a lot of thought into it but you couldn't wait another three hours before telling me?" I probably could have but without her judgement I would probably have been awake those three hours whereas now I slept like a baby. I don't think she will mind once she reads she 'saved' my mental health.

The next morning I caught Lisa in the hallway of our office and together we called Alex so she could hear my decision directly. I told them straight away that I couldn't do it and explained that my hate for public speaking would be something that I was willing to undergo because of my passion for them as a couple. But what in the end decided it for me was that this would be a very special day for them and that my views on marriage itself wouldn't allow me to express that special feeling on that one specific moment. And that I love them too much to allow that to happen. Lisa stood up and gave me a kiss. "Thank you for being you." she added. Alex told her to give me one on her behalf as well.

"I think this was the first time I had two lesbians thinking of me all night."
"I think it was the first time you were ..... Oh nevermind." Lisa smiled and left my office and the connection with Alex went beep beep beep.