It’s Tuesday, time for me to solve all the life problems of the OutKick crew in the anonymous mailbag.
As always, you can send your anonymous mailbag questions to email@example.com, anonymity guaranteed.
Okay, here we go:
“I play football at (university redacted) and I am a staunch conservative, which has not been too welcomed. We currently have many leftists on our team and our coach has caved to the leftist orthodoxy of thought.
Our coach mandated that every person get a vaccine, even though the university was allowing exceptions. If your vaccine had not been done 14 days prior to arrival you had to wear a mask at all times and during meetings you were required to sit in the back of meetings far away from the vaccinated players. Now he has made masks mandatory in all indoor places. He threatened by saying that if we decide not to comply that such action will result in 6am conditioning punishments. Even after the entire team is vaccinated, he said if we do not start wearing the masks that we will wear them on the practice field and weight room to make a point.
The second part of this email is the problem that the team has politically, as we have a collection of conservatives and leftists. The largest problem is that we have a race hustler, a Ibrahim X Kendi or Louis Farrakhan want to be, he has been very divisive. One of my close friends showed up in a MAGA shirt and hat and the coach made him go change but other players wear BLM shirts all of the time and he says nothing. He even applauded BLM’s actions in a meeting, calling the rioting, looting and violence ‘just.’ The race hustler on the team has been holding weekly meetings about how racist our society and school is and he said ‘white people are allowed to come.’ However, he only invited a specific group of people via the group chat. One day I tried to come in to watch and I was told to leave. He told me to get out. The guy knows I am a conservative and he despises me because I am a straight A student and one of the most intelligent people on the team. One day I was going to my locker and he asked me, ‘Where are my reparations?’
How would you handle this environment? I love football, but I don’t love the daily environment on the team with COVID and racial issues.”
Okay, let’s start with the team racial dynamics, the “where are my reparations?” line is pretty funny, especially if a liberal black guy is delivering it to a conservative white guy. My guess is your teammate was actually making a joke with you, and you took it seriously. That is, he’s playing into your expectations of him and his of you by making light of your political differences in an effort to break the ice with you. He was probably hoping you’d laugh at the joke. Or even return fire. A suggestion: “The same place you’re hiding my tax cut.”
Look, I strongly believe what I believe, but I don’t care if you make fun of me for my beliefs. Especially if the joke is a decent one. One thing I think everyone can do a better job of is taking your opinions seriously without taking yourself incredibly seriously. That’s an easy way to help bridge the differences here. You and your football teammate may have different political opinions, but instead of allowing these differences to define you, what do you both like? I guarantee you there’s something. Girls, video games, movies, alcohol, other sports teams. Instead of focusing on the things that divide you, how about focus on the things you share in common, the things you both like?
That’s how true friendships are born.
This idea that you should only be friends with people you share political opinions with is, frankly, an awful extension of social media divisions, maybe the worst thing that has come out of social media in general. My best friends in college and law school had widely divergent political opinions. They still do. Heck, my own wife and I disagree on a decent amount of political issues. Your political beliefs in college are important, but they should be a relatively small percentage of what defines you to your classmates. And they certainly shouldn’t dictate who you are friends with in any kind of major way.
As for your coach and his leadership of the team, he’s probably terrified of making any decisions that could get him branded as racist. Especially if he’s a white guy. There are only two ways he gets fired: 1. lose too many games 2. get accused of being racist by black players. And the second one is actually the one that’s likely to get him fired the fastest. So I’m not surprised he’s policing things in this manner.
The team masking requirement, on the other hand, sounds absolutely ridiculous. This is where relationships with your teammates come in handy. I’d bet just about everyone on the team finds the idea of practicing in masks, and of having to wear masks in meetings, to be ridiculous at this point. Maybe you and your liberal teammate even agree on this issue and could help to unify your team against the idea and then take it to the coach.
The masks aren’t making your team safer from COVID, especially not since the entire team is already vaccinated now. Playing football is far more dangerous to your team’s health than COVID. Rallying the team against masks can help unify you guys as your season gets underway.
In the meantime, one of the best things a college football team, or any athletic team for that matter, can do is force you to be surrounded by people from a wide variety of backgrounds. You and your teammates might never cross paths in life, and certainly might not interact with one another even if if you were on campus together, if it weren’t for football. Regardless of what your future life might be like, I’d encourage you to get to know your teammates as individuals, not as stand-ins for identity politics.
We often build caricatures of people we disagree with that are ten feet tall and a few inches deep. What happens if you actually start seeing each other as people as opposed to political representations? I’ve found that we’re all much more interesting, complicated, and fascinating once we break down those identity wall caricatures that separate us. I suspect right now, you and your teammate see each other as cliched representatives of people you disagree with. But what would happen if you went up to the guy you think is dividing the team and you said, “Let’s you and me go grab lunch together one day. I’m interested in hearing your thoughts outside of the locker room and I want you to hear mine too.”
My bet is, you’ll both leave lunch seeing each other as individuals instead of rivals. You might not be friends going forward, but at least you won’t be antagonists. That’s what I’d encourage you to do with this teammate.
Good luck with your lunch and good luck this season too.
“I have a 10+ year old car that has plenty of cosmetic damage, but still rides great. It’s probably worth $3-4k, but I take good care of it, and think I can get at least another 3-5 years out of it. I have no need/desire to buy another car right now.
However, my next door neighbor recently backed into it, dented it, and the repair is going to cost between $1500-$2k.
Said neighbor is being difficult. When the incident first happened, he was kind of a dick, and insinuated that the accident was my fault because I parked my car in a location that made it hard for them to back out of their driveway. They are also complaining about the estimate; they keep saying that they want to write me a check and not go through insurance, but would expect me to ‘behave neighborly’ and not ‘make a profit’ off of this.
I don’t want to put this much money into a car for a fix that’s purely cosmetic. I also don’t want to spend the time dropping my car off at a shop, figuring out a ride to/from there, etc. I’ve already spent time driving around to multiple repair shops trying to get them the best estimate possible (to be fair, I volunteered to do this).
That said, I’m also annoyed with how my neighbor is handling this. I’ve lived in this home for just under a year, and this was the first time the neighbors have introduced themselves to me, so I think it’s pretty rich that they keep telling me to be neighborly. I imagine they’re short on cash (per some googling, one of them works in the arts, the other works in the service industry). I’m not trying to gouge my neighbor, but I’m also irritated with how difficult they’re being.
What’s the move here? Do I just pretend it didn’t happen? Do I just get my car fixed? Should I pocket the cash and tell my neighbors to fuck off? Is there a solution you can think of that is a happy medium?”
The easiest solution here is you get the car fixed at the best price you can find, have your insurance pay for it, and give the insurance people your neighbor’s information and let the insurance company take care of it. Then you essentially wash your hands of the entire debacle and don’t have to get involved in balancing the equities. They hit your car based on their negligent driving, you got the car fixed, and insurance handled it on both sides.
That’s how these issues typically play themselves out.
Granted, your neighbors may not be happy with you, but, as you said, it’s not like you have any relationship with them in the first place and it’s not like you’ve done anything wrong. They are the ones who hit your car and there are consequences for their negligent behavior.
I’d also point out, by the way, that if you had a nice, new car you’d definitely get the car fixed and no one would expect otherwise. The quality of your car isn’t a significant part of this story in terms of their behavior. If anything, they’re lucky your car is old and crappy because a newer, nicer car may have cost way more to repair. Why should they get the benefit of their negligence just because your car isn’t as nice as it could have been?
So that’s the easiest “normal” solution to this problem.
The “split the baby” solution is you get a full estimate for what repairs to your car will cost and then offer to take half of it if they pay you in cash. That seems to be what they are requesting. So if you get the estimate, present it to them, and then offer to take half of that amount and not repair your car, that seems eminently fair to me too.
That saves them money, but you aren’t putting more money into your car than it’s really worth. Instead you get the cash to use as you see fit. And it seems equitable in the sense that if your car is only worth a few thousand dollars, then spending over a thousand dollars to repair a dent on it — when you’re fine driving with the dent on the car — isn’t really a prudent financial decision.
Finally, the most aggressive move, which is also one you could undertake, is to pocket all the money for the repairs and not do anything to repair your car. That’s certainly your right too, but presumably, since they live next to you, they would see that you never did anything to fix your car despite them having paid for it and you might then have angry neighbors who feel like you fleeced them over a relatively minor car issue.
That’s why what I would probably do is offer option two here — to take cash in lieu of the repairs — as they have requested. Again, you’d provide them the estimate in the process so they could see you weren’t fleecing them. And if they didn’t want to do that, then I’d pick option one, get your car fixed and let the insurance companies take care of this.
One additional point here — is it possible your neighbors don’t have car insurance? This could be an added wrinkle of complexity and help to explain their behavior. You surmise that they might not be doing well financially. Is it possible they let their car insurance lapse and that’s why they are behaving the way they are?
Regardless, I’d pick option two, but you’re well within your rights to get the car fixed or to get the full estimate and pocket all the money rather than get the car fixed. Your negligence didn’t create this situation, your neighbor’s negligence did.
“I work on a team of four. Everyone except for me on the team has been vaccinated against COVID. I don’t want to get the shot because I am young, healthy, and don’t think that I need it. The rest of my team is much more concerned with getting COVID. They have made remarks in the past about how people who don’t get vaccinated are selfish and stupid. I try not to take it personally. They must’ve assumed that I had gotten the shot, but the other day someone straight up asked if I was vaccinated and I told them I wasn’t.
Since then, my boss has asked me to drive separately to work sites (we used to all ride together) and I haven’t been getting invited to lunch like I used to. We rarely work inside, but when we do they are obviously trying to stay distanced from me. They’re still being cordial to me, but it’s obvious things have changed. Is there anything I can do to make this better or do I just have to ride it out and hope once this batch of COVID moves through they’ll chill out?”
I probably would have lied about getting the vaccine in this situation, if I were you.
Also, let me be clear. I haven’t gotten the vaccine because I’ve already had COVID and recovered from it and I have COVID antibodies. If I knew I hadn’t had COVID, I would have gotten the vaccine. Not because I think the vaccine is wildly protective or because I’m scared of COVID, but just because I haven’t seen data that proves the vaccine itself is harmful in any way. If you’re young and healthy, you’re under virtually no risk from COVID, but you’re also under virtually no risk from the vaccine as well.
But that’s for you to decide.
And so far, you’ve decided not to get the vaccine, which I also think is a perfectly reasonable decision given your age and lack of risk factors.
Having said all of this, you already knew how your co-workers feel about the COVID vaccine. Since all three of them feel the same way, what did you gain by honestly telling your co-workers you weren’t vaccinated? I’d argue nothing at all. And you clearly lost something in the process, the trust of your co-workers.
If the company had to fire someone in your small group of four right now, guess who would get fired? You.
Now if the company were mandating vaccines, I wouldn’t lie about that. That is, I wouldn’t try and get a fake vaccine card and go through the challenges of that undertaking. But when someone asks you to voluntarily share your health information at work, why would you share information in any way that’s damaging to you at work?
Take it outside the context of the vaccine. If one of your co-workers asked if you had herpes, would you say you had herpes, even if you did? Or would you lie, even if you had herpes, because you’d prefer not to be known as the guy at work who has herpes? I think just about every person reading this right now would lie about having herpes, if they had it.
Similarly, if you know you’re going to be judged for not getting the vaccine and suffer at work, why would you tell the truth here?
Now that you have told the truth, however, the only thing you can do to get back to your pre-existing normal work relationships is to get the vaccine. Which is something you’re opposed to doing. So either you get the vaccine or you accept this as the new normal until COVID cases recede to the background, which hopefully will happen at some point in the future. I don’t really see any other options for you here.
By the way, I’m not defending their behavior with you. I don’t believe you are putting them at any kind of substantial increased risk. Yes, they are vaccinated, but there are tons of breakthrough cases, meaning they may still spread COVID to each other despite their vaccinations. You may have had COVID, for all we know, which would give you natural immunity, putting them under greater risk of exposure from their vaccinated co-workers. But, again, their behavior here was eminently predictable and you leaned into it by being honest with them.
Which is why as a general rule of on the job behavior, I wouldn’t tell my co-workers something that hurt my standing at the job and didn’t provide any benefit at all. I think you would have been better off lying in response to this question.
“The Clark County School District in Las Vegas, Nevada just passed a motion requiring all staff members to be vaccinated. No timetable as of writing this for when we need to get vaccinated.
What’s ironic is I’ve actually been the safest person on my campus as an unvaccinated person. I’ve been forced to get COVID tested every week. They’ve all come back negative. So really I’m the only person at school who knows they 100% don’t have COVID. Meanwhile, all the vaccinated teachers could be COVID positive spreading it to students and other staff members but since they’re possibly asymptomatic, nobody would know. Yet somehow I’m the problem. It’s bizarre. I’m not anti-vax, I just don’t personally care to get it. I’ve already had COVID. I’m a healthy individual.
Anyway, my question is do my responsibilities as a husband trump my personal preferences in regards to the vaccine? I’m 30 years old. Got married in 2020. As much as I’d love to quit and stick it to the school district, I’m not sure if this is a hill I should be willing to die on. I have bills to pay. Would you pursue teaching in a different state? Is there any reason to believe that red states won’t go down this route too? I am a Christian but I don’t feel comfortable trying to claim religious exemption. That’d feel phony for me. Help me out!”
First, I’d consider lobbying for an exemption from the vaccination requirement based on the fact that you’ve already had COVID. It doesn’t make sense for you to get the vaccine since you already have COVID antibodies. Israeli studies have shown that people with natural COVID antibodies are up to 27 times as protected from reinfection as people with vaccine antibodies. We need to be talking about people as immune and not-immune, as opposed to talking about people as vaccinated and not vaccinated.
So that’s the first thing I’d attempt to do in your situation.
Second, I personally would get vaccinated over giving up a job I needed in order to support my family. This is a personal choice for all of you — and I respect people who make the choice to quit a job over vaccine requirements — but as a dad (or mom), my first and most important responsibility, I believe, is to provide for my family. So that’s going to be my first focus.
Now if you already disliked your job and were considering leaving or if you lived in a part of the country that you’d been considering leaving already, I can certainly see making the decision to quit your job or relocate with COVID requirements being the tipping point. But in general, unless you are financially secure and could afford not to work for several months, I wouldn’t advise anyone to quit a job over COVID vaccine requirements without another job you already had lined up to replace this one. And you also would need to make certain that the new job you were taking didn’t have the same requirements as the job you were quitting.
As always, you can send your anonymous mailbag questions to firstname.lastname@example.org, anonymity guaranteed.