Editor’s Note: The following essay is in response to a prompt to share personal stories about the potential impact of the election of Donald Trump as the next president of the United States, particular on people of color, people with disabilities, and LGBTQ people.
So let’s say I hire Donald Trump to be my caregiver. Obviously he would insist on doing it as a volunteer and that this is how it should be for everyone so we can save some money for the weapons and the wall. Families know best how to care for their own and those without families can find an orphanage.
But really: What would Donald do? What kind of presence might I anticipate entering my home each morning?
First off, I’m not holding my breath for empathy. I can’t even imagine he’d think about his own body becoming weak enough to ever need a personal care attendant. Even in old age he’s no cripple, for sure. He’s gonna write a check and have what he wants, just the way he likes it, just as soon as he makes up his mind. And the caregivers? An endlessly revolving dream team. “Bring me what’s her name…yeah, she was real good. NO, NOT that one—she’s got a mouth on her and she learned a little bit last time about how that works with me, didn’t she!?”
I am imagining what it would feel like to say goodbye to my wife and to hear her leave for work…and then to hear his footsteps coming down the hall to my bedside. I have a sense inside of how I would be, straight to my marrow, as he approached, as I explained to him exactly how I need to be moved in my bed from side to side, and things can’t shift around real quick for people like me—so be careful, please.
As his hands got closer to touch my skin and cause me to move, he would be telling me the whole time not to be afraid—NO, NOT like an angel, NO, NOT like they say it in the Bible 1,000 times—but in that creepy, everything’s-under-control, Machiavellian whispery way—the way that asserts inherent supremacy, unilateral sufficiency, moral necessity, as one whispers, “Don’t be afraid. You are in capable hands. Trust me: I know what you need.” Believe me, many of us know the “Trumpy” trust some (especially Christian) able-bodied folks impose. “Yes, you’re just going to have to trust me” [wink].
He would find my list of goals for the day amusing. “My goodness look at you—with your little list of things you like to do. It’s good for people like you to keep busy, huh? I can see you like to paint your pretty pictures and write your little notes to people and play with your poetry—I don’t really understand it, it’s not for me, frankly, but good for you—good for you! A lot of people like you would get really crabby and bitter and demanding if they didn’t have something to keep their mind off of things. Believe me, man, I get it,” he would say.
He would suggest outfits for me and feel offended if I didn’t appreciate his sense of taste. He would comb my hair in the same way he combs his own (let’s just enjoy that for a moment…). He would tell me that he made my eggs exactly how I told him the first time and that this is the best he knows how to do them and so that will have to be good enough. He’d assume I want to tell him all about my life and that, because he asked questions, I probably should be polite. And after I told him more than I wanted so that he would keep feeding me, he would say he understood completely and tell me stories about his relatives, the time he broke an ankle, what it’s like to have small hands. I would console him profusely. He’d be sure we had a bond.
On the first day, he would drop food on my lap and feel terrible. Every day after that it would get worse. He would drop food or miss my mouth and start giving half-assed apologies, and when, after some careful and calculated discernment, I chose to speak clearly and confidently about my displeasure given all the grease around my lips and how a 48-year-old man can still get huge pimples if people like him keep smearing shit all over someone’s fucking face… (and then I would stop myself and remember how I didn’t need to use that kind of language).
After I told him an easier way to hold the utensil so it worked better, he’d sit there simmering red and say in that same whispery voice, “You’re lucky to have somebody sitting here, aren’t you? You’re going to tell me how to use this? You know what, Mr. Know-It-All, sometimes you get what you get. I would just as soon hear a ‘thank you’ if you want the truth and if it’s not good enough for you, you can go ahead and fire me—otherwise, shut the hell up, ’cause I’m the one holding the fork.”
After this I would have to find another caregiver to help me put up my dukes or to keep me from screaming uncontrollably: IT IS WHAT I FUCKING SAY IT IS IN REGARD TO ME, MY FORK, MY FOOD, MY FACE—MY ANYTHING AND EVERYTHING EVERY SINGLE FUCKING TIME—ARE WE CLEAR!
Then, when I was good and ready, I would get a mirror and $.10 worth of mindfulness…I would spend time with roses…or friends who listen…or go to the zoo…or fly with my sparrows…and I would practice for the rest of my life, real gentle-like, how to avoid letting myself turn into someone else.