The thing is, I really like and respect Carol. She’s one of the few women I’ve interviewed for this project who I knew before the election. If I scroll to the word “scrappy” in my mental dictionary, there’s an image of Carol, all 100 pounds of her, deep tan and blond-tipped pixie hair. She IS genuine—and often hilarious. Like Trump, she will blurt her truth regardless of who might be within earshot—though her outbursts tend to reveal a charmingly goofy character. I know she appreciates me and doesn’t care who I voted for. She would love me even if Hillary had won.
In the aftermath of the election, what am I to do about my friendship with Carol? How am I to feel about the millions of women like her who supported Trump? Was their ballot also cast against the sisterhood we hold dear?
Carol grew up in a middle class household, which was likely more secure than my own bohemian childhood. She had parents who were married and a house full of siblings. My parents were broken up by the time I was six; my half-brother didn’t arrive until I was 16. But instability can have its perks. Carol has not lived in a bunch of cities or travelled like I have. She did not feel compelled to earn advanced degrees in some desperate attempt to prove her worth.
Nor did Carol’s upbringing automatically translate into a cushy life. For a while worked at a bank. Then for over 20 years she ran her framing shop as sole proprietor and worker. Most of that time, she didn’t have the safety net of a dual income household.
Watching her get her new venture (the marijuana retail shop) up and running has given me a sense of the struggle of business ownership. I’m accustomed to being an employee; I can see that in the business world, that’s a bit like being a child. I don’t put the food on the table or the roof overhead. Someone else worries about revenue and how all the little mouths will get fed. I just eat off my plate.
If it weren’t for Carol’s scrappy nature, I don’t think she could have done it. Of the few new pot shops in town, hers is the only owned by a woman and not backed by a pre-existing corporation. I’ve witnessed her go toe to toe with officials at all levels of government. Just when she thinks she’s complied with every rule and regulation, new ones pop up as well as slight variations to old ones. We hear so much talk about the importance of small businesses to our economy, but from an owner’s perspective I can see how the relationship with government doesn’t exactly feel supportive. Small businesses have the normal fight of appealing to customers and generating income, but they also struggle with the entities tasked with their oversight. It’s a battle on all fronts. I’m sure this challenge is magnified due to the nature of Mary’s new business.
Carol might be right in assuming that under Clinton this situation would likely have stayed the same. I can understand why she thinks Trump might be more sympathetic. As a businessman, his has faced a similar struggle on a grander scale. Whatever the case, for me to pass judgment on Carol’s opinions regarding the matter seems inappropriate and disrespectful. Having never shouldered the responsibility of a small business myself, I don’t think I’ve earned that right.
But I had to know one thing. Carol is not conservative when it comes to social issues. She freely admits that had she been unable to have an abortion when she was younger, her life could have turned out very differently. She is glad to have had that choice.
“How will you feel if Roe v. Wade is overturned, which could make abortion illegal?” I asked.
“I don’t think that will happen,” she said. She is under the impression that existing civil liberties either can’t or won’t be turned back. “But if it does, I’ll be angry.”
Regardless, Carol had no hesitation voting for Trump. Several months before the election she enthusiastically declared her support for him. I laughed because I thought that was a funny one.
The joke was on me.
Janet, Carol’s best friend, cast her vote for Trump with far more angst. “He’s an egotistical bastard,” she told me in no uncertain terms. “But she’s an egotistical bitch. The big difference is she’s been in office all these years, which changes everything in my mind.”