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One Small Step: "You're nicer than I expected"

Matt and Judy are One Small Step conversation partners.
WHQR/Story Corps
Matt and Judy are One Small Step conversation partners.

Cape Fear region residents can sometimes clash with one another over controversial topics. That’s partly why WHQR has partnered with StoryCorps’ One Small Step program.

The program brings strangers together across political divides — not to argue, but to learn about each other's lives.

Judy and Matt are two such people who had this conversation.

WHQR and StoryCorps are still recording 'One Small Step' conversations through the end of the year and we're still accepting participants, particularly those who lean conservative.

Interested? Find more info here.

Matt: My name is Matthew Littleton. I am 31 years old. I'm out of Swansboro, North Carolina. My partner's Judy. This is the first time I'm meeting her for this conversation.

Judy: My name is Judy Kurtzman. I am 63. I live in Wilmington, North Carolina, and this is the first time Matt and I are meeting.

I think this is really important. I think talking to people who have different views, talking to people who view particularly the politics of today differently, to gain an understanding of why they feel that way.

Matt: The more information I have at my disposal, the more informed I am to make decisions. And just because I feel a certain way about something doesn't make me right about it. And I like to just gather as much information as possible.

Judy: Good for you. Thanks for doing that.

Who was the most influential person in your life? And what did they teach you?

Matt: Probably my son and my wife at this point, because for the first 30 years of my life, I just was kind of on Matt’s schedule. It was truthfully just eye-opening the whole experience of him being a micro preemie because my wife thought she had COVID, and she went to get checked because she couldn't stop coughing. And it turns out, she had preeclampsia so bad at 25 weeks, her lungs were starting to fill up with fluid. She was in the hospital one day, and eight days later, we had a baby. Is he going to survive, is he going to live? We have no idea what's going to happen. Everything in my life revolves around him. And just like having the responsibility of him making everything I can right for him, doing everything possible, all the medical care we have to go through with him, and everything we have to do. And between my wife and my son, they've really grounded me and just made me a better person overall.

Judy: I love that answer. That's so awesome. I remember saying to my mom, why didn't you tell me how hard it is to have children? And she said, ‘because you never would have believed it.’ You can't explain that to someone. You also can't explain how much you're gonna love this new person.

Matt: They do have a lot of resources once you're in the NICU to help you out with things, but that doesn't help anyone prior to it to know what they're entitled to, what they have access to, or anything else. And I believe that there has to be a more streamlined process to healthcare because of situations like we saw because the NICU we were in, they were at capacity, and it was 50 rooms, and I think a third of those were twin rooms. That's a lot.

Judy: Wow, that's a lot. You're right. So this is an important question for me to you, Matt. Does that mean you don't believe in any abortion, or you don't believe in abortions after 20 weeks?

Matt: Complete mother's decision up to 23, well, 23 and a half weeks after the point of viability, that's a whole another life that we're dealing with.

Judy: Yeah, well, so I lost a baby at 17 weeks. And she was a little girl. She had 10 fingers and 10 toes, and she even had fingernails. She was the size of my hand but she was a little baby. And I have to admit that was eye-opening to me, too. I don't like that they overturned Roe versus Wade, though. I'm very concerned about that. I don't see the government stepping up to say, ‘Okay, then we're gonna have a whole bunch more pregnancies and babies, we better put money toward taking care of the women and the children’.

Matt: I agree. And I think that's a travesty. I mean, even Roe versus Wade shouldn't affect the fact that I feel like there should be more access, more opportunity, and more everything. I mean, in our area, there are only three daycares that are worth it. And every one of them is at capacity with a year-long waiting list.

Judy: Right.

Matt: Was I who you expected me to be?

Judy: Okay…I…

Matt: There was a long pause there, Judy...

Judy: Yeah, well, because you're nicer than I expected.

StoryCorps’ One Small Step Radio Station Hub is made possible by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, a private corporation funded by the American people.

Rachel is a graduate of UNCW's Master of Public Administration program, specializing in Urban and Regional Policy and Planning. She also received a Master of Education and two Bachelor of Arts degrees in Political Science and French Language & Literature from NC State University. She served as WHQR's News Fellow from 2017-2019. Contact her by email: rkeith@whqr.org or on Twitter @RachelKWHQR