"Wait, wait, wait." I shook my head trying to process all the information. "So you are telling me that in 1 year, a huge cultural landmark will be destroyed in the middle of New York city?"
A middle-aged man with a large beard, unkempt hair, and a grease-stained shirt looked at me earnestly and said, "Yes. Please believe me. The twin towers will fall on September 11th, 2001 and it will lead the US into a 20 year conflict that destabilizes the entire middle-east."
Insane. Absolutely 100% insane. I shook my head and patted his shoulder, "Look, sir. I don't know who you are, but I need to get back to work --"
"Wait! Let me show you!" He dug in his pocket for a strange rectangular device and stared at it for a minute before muttering to himself, "Fuck. No service!" He then began tapping on it in a strange fashion while mumbling, "Maybe I have some memes stored here somewhere..."
What was a meme? Also, he said he had pictures? On what looked like a pager? I shook my head and said, "Look. I am sure you have good intentions, but I really need to go..." I then began trying to shuffle away. I did not know the man and did not care to speculate about future wars of the United States.
"No, wait!" He grabbed my hand and turned the screen to me to reveal an some sort of lit image with what looked like a message from his mother. Was that a phone? Where were the buttons? I then read the message:
"Look. I love you and I support your decisions, but he is NOT my president. He stole the election and will do so again in 2024!"
Stole the election? 2024? That must be a typo, right? I sighed and said, "Now that's a serious accusation against President Clinton."
"Clinton?" The man looked at me, clearly confused. "Like Hillary's husband? Wait. I thought Bush was president now?"
Who was this guy? He claimed he was from the future, but doesn't even know the recent past? I told him the truth, "Bush has been out of office for almost 8 years now. His son is running now, but to be honest, it's not particularly likely he will win."
The man ran his hands through his hair, "Fuck! No! Wait!" He looked at me and said, "My mom is talking about Biden. President Biden."
President Biden? What was this weird device, anyway? "Ok. Look. You have me interested. Let's meet over lunch."
A few hours later, we met at a local cafe with a small private booth where people could not easily listen in. He seemed particularly agitated for some reason and opted not to order anything. When I asked why, he said that the store probably would not take his credit card and frankly, I did not want to press the issue.
After settling down, I started the conversation, "Ok. So let's start at the start. You claim that Biden will win -- rather he will steal this election? He's not even running!"
"No. George W. Bush will win. In fact, he's going to have one of the highest approval ratings of any president for a short burst after the terrorist attacks..."
"On the world trade centers, right?"
"Right." He nodded.
I chuckled. "Look. That is a real serious accusation. A terrorist attack and election fraud?"
The man sighed and rubbed his temples before saying, "No. My mom is claiming election fraud, but actually the election was probably fair."
"Yeah, probably." He looked around the room a bit before continuing. "The truth is that due to a global pandemic, everyone had to mail in their ballots for the 2020 election, which lead to people doubting the results."
"Oh, so now there's a global pandemic as well?" I genuinely laughed at the absurdity. "Look. If you are here from the future, you need to get your stories straight."
"The stories are straight!" He took a deep breath. "Look. I came to you because you are the only person who might be able to change this."
"Look, sir. I am a single member of the House of Representatives. I have some power, maybe, but am ultimately a servant of the people of Vermont. If I start pushing conspiracy theories, there is no way anyone will take me seriously again."
The man again rubbed at his eyes and said, "I realize that. I also realize that I probably sound absolutely crazy to you. The truth is that I don't care about the terrorists, pandemic, or election fraud. Sure, these are huge issues, but there is a single issue that is even more important: the climate."
I shook my head, "You are telling me that in the next few years, cities are blown up, disease spreads across the world, and our democratic institutions fundamentally break and you are here to talk about the weather?"
"Look, Bernie... Mr. Sanders," His hands shook a bit as he spoke to me, "I am not asking you to believe me. I am just asking for you to listen."
I took a deep breath, "Ok. I'll listen."