CAUTION! Expectations Abound

Eight years old.   Or maybe I was nine, and with the calendar showing it was Hanukkah I was, perhaps as excited as I’ve ever been. Somehow   I’d given myself the idea   that an electric train set displayed at a local toy store would be one of my eight gifts for the holiday. And I regarded my parents’ warnings—that I was NOT going to get an electric train for Hanukkah–as their attempt to set me up for the inevitable happy surprise. Our family’s tradition was to give each of the kids one gift on each of the eight nights of Hanukkah. On the first night, I received a pair of socks. The next night it was a gayly wrapped present of a new toothbrush. And the things I got each succeeding night were pretty much from the same gift catalog.Of course, my expectation grew until  the eighth and final night, with my excitement as much on fire as the candles. That’s when  I received……Hanukkah “gelt”. That’s right. No train. Just some quarter-shaped pieces of stale milk chocolate wrapped in gold colored foil. Huh?

Years later I had a much more important expectation as I marched, over a period of several months, with various groups of protestors in order to make people aware of the terrible practice of racial discrimination, and about the need to bring young Americans home from the foolish, murderous adventure in Vietnam. It seemed we were making progress with public opinion swinging in our direction and the passage of civil rights and voting protection laws. I was committed fully to the expectation that because of our efforts—mine along with hundreds of thousands of other concerned Americans—the movement for justice and peace was spreading throughout the country. It was unlikely that we’d see all the necessary significant changes right away. But  I’d given myself the idea  that at the rate it was evolving, within ten years—maybe fifteen at the most—this country would be the generous, non-discriminatory and peace loving America friends and I imagined.

So, fifty-some years later, what happened? We didn’t get Hilary for our 45th and first woman president. But somehow I’d given myself the idea that Donald Trump, whom I do not like and did not vote for, would put aside his childish, arrogant ways and stand up to the responsibilities of the job many (but not everybody) believed he had won.

Another example of the sorry results that can follow when I’ve established an expectation.

And I’m not alone. There are millions and millions of Americans  — at least three million more than the count of citizens who voted for Trump—whose hopes, who’s expectations, were the same as mine. Then came the mistaken idea fed to us by a number of political news analysts that once he sat in the Oval Office and realized the gravity of his responsibilities, the racist, misogynistic narcissist would settle down and begin to learn how to do his job before he started to make critical decisions. So we steeled ourselves against our fears and we hoped for the best.

You’ve likely notice we were misled by “the gravity of the office” argument. Trump proves every day and in many of the ways he behaves that when we picture him “growing into” the role, we’re indulging in another expectation of something that falls considerably short of reality.

We’re horrified by every episode of the “Trump in Washington” reality show. We’re continually shocked and outraged by what he says and what he does. We’re angry that he creates trouble for no discernible reason other than having his name in the headlines in a way that distracts everyone from what’s really going on. And we agonize over the fact that instead of regarding him as the government’s “class clown,” the press and the legislature take seriously his many ridiculous assertions, and feel that they need to investigate—as if they are actual events—the “millions of illegals who voted for Hilary,” the “crowd size” at his inauguration, the role of the former president in the “wiretapping of phones at his Trump Tower office.”

I’m no longer surprised by any of what goes on in the White House and on the Trump Trail. I used all of my ready supply, even my reserves of outrage months ago.

And you can stop being shocked, disbelieving and outraged too. It serves no purpose. We knew what we might be getting well over a year ago during the Republican Primary debates. We knew then that he doesn’t understand the issues, that he’ll say whatever he thinks his audience wants to hear, that he’s capable of telling three lies in two sentences, that his campaign “promises” are merely the opening suggestion in the negotiation he anticipates, and that contradicting himself comes as easily to Trump as cinching up one of his $1,200 neckties.

I learned it’s not difficult to stop being outraged by the behavior and words of our president. I need simply to remove the “expectations” filter from my view, and see the two-bit hustler from the glitzy and sleazy side of the building trades for what he is. Then get busy finding a volunteer opportunity with an organization devoted to getting rid of him.




7 thoughts on “CAUTION! Expectations Abound

  1. Are those long neckties really $1200? Are you exaggerating (which is a “skill” modeled by Mr. Trump) ? Did you really think he would change? The past is the best predictor of the future, right? And now, this bully represents, and reflects, our beautiful country. In his word, it is sad, very sad.

  2. Dear Bill,

    2 quick observations:

    1. You should have published your story about your childhood Chanukah gift expectations BEFORE the election where it might have changed the election outcome!

    2. Your current expectations are not unrealistically idealistic, but your expectation that you would receive an electric train set rather than your chocolate candies was!

    You have matured and the saga continues!

  3. Hi Bill,
    Hope you are well. We did the. Seder again in early May advmissed you!
    Regarding your blog– the only thing I can say is ” how did you ever have any expectations that trump would grow into the office”? I seem to remember writing you quite a while back warning you in no uncertain terms ( well before he was elected) about how dangerous he is. To have any other thought before or since is ludicrous. He is running the office as he ran his business, wanton and ruthless.


  4. Good one, Bill!!! You marry the personal with the public, the sign of a very fine writer…bringing it on home, so to speak. I think the point you are making here is very subtle: not just hopes and expectations dashed, but how we are led by our psyches to hope. The hope is not that he will somehow change…he can’t and won’t. The hope is on the backs of us and what we do in response; and we hope in a few good men and women in public service to do their best. Robert Mueller anyone? Adam Schiff? All the several journalists at the Washington Post and the N.Y. Times? The judiciary who seems to be steppling up. Hope is not gone, just redirected.

  5. Billy —
    Excellent ruminationss.
    A wise person once told me “expect nothing and you’ll never be disappointed.”
    If that is true why am I so disappointed at the sorry state of affairs we find ourselvelves in?
    I do feel bad for the eight year old you. You deserved the train.
    Take care of your old self,\.
    — Jim

  6. I’m not sure why but this site is loading incredibly slow for me. Is anyone else having this issue or is it a issue on my end? I’ll check back later on and see if the problem still exists.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *