I Was Offended!
What follows is the account of an encounter I had the other day in our local Meijer grocery store. I see this more and more frequently these days. Some Apostle of the GOP, spreading the gospel of Fox News and the 1%, will begin loud talking someone. Most often this is a person whom they perceive to be uninformed or under informed and they promptly get busy planting the seeds of their delusion in what they perceive to be fertile ground.
I do try and mind my own business… However, when someone is playing to an audience and seeking converts… I don’t do “audience” well. I tend to talk back, object and ask questions. Hopefully you will enjoy the following exchange and perhaps join me in pushing back against these charlatans who seek to pull the wool over the eyes of people they believe are beneath them. Enjoy!
Holding Court – Gospel Of The 1 Percent
The other day I had to go down to our “City Hall” to pay our property taxes… I’ve had several bad experiences with their security check point – read: damn near had to strip – so, I figured I’d put on some sweat pants and a sweat shirt with nothing on me other than my wallet, keys, checkbook, a pen and my smart phone. All in all? I looked pretty grungy.
Weather report called for sub-arctic temps, so I figured while I was out I’d swing through Meijer’s and grab a few items so I wouldn’t have to go out again for a couple of days. Thus it was, with visions of a glowing fireplace in mind, I found myself on the dairy aisle heading towards the eggs.
My first intimation of an unusual exchange came when I heard this older white guy talking in what I call his “holding court voice.” I’m sure you’ve all heard and experienced this. When people talk way too loud for a conventional conversation such that people 20 or more feet away can hear clearly and follow along whether they’re interested or not. The second thing I noticed was… damn if they weren’t standing dab smack in front of the egg section!
Let me paint the picture for you. The older white gent was wearing some designer jeans, loafers and something like a members only jacket. He had silver hair, was about 6′ tall and exuded wealth and power. The poor employee he had “buttonholed” was maybe in his late 20’s, early 30’s. Rather scraggly faced. Ponytail, tall and lean. I’d seen him around numerous times. He was always pleasant but quiet and reserved.
My intentions were to grab my eggs and get the hell out of there… glowing fireplace, remember? What stopped me in my tracks was, I heard the younger employee defending himself by saying, “Meijer made quite a profit this year… to me that means they ought to be able to give us employees a raise.”
My eyes narrowed as the alarm bells begin to go off. This older fellow must have been pressing the employee quite a bit because this isn’t generally the topic of conversation that goes well… *on* company time and on company *property.* The older fellow – again in his “holding court voice” – proffered, “well, all these grocery stores are running quite a lean ship and there’s just not as much money as you think there is…” He rocked back on his heels smugly and gave a knowing smile.
I slowly turned, looked at him and said, “you seem to be as old if not a bit older than I? I’m sure you recall when we grew up, things really weren’t all that bad… back in the days when the CEOs of corporations didn’t make 700 times what their front line employees make? We did pretty well back then didn’t we? Just because something is a certain way, doesn’t mean it has to be, or should be that way…” Jamie Dimon, the CEO of Chase just got a $20 million bonus package… this same year Chase paid out over $29 Billion in fines… but the board still gave him a $20 million bonus package.
I noticed his spine stiffen a bit. Clearly he had foreseen things going a different way. He was game however and immediately argued that, “the federal government almost put a gun to J.P. Morgan Chase’s head and made them buy several banks which is how they incurred those fines.” At this point I tried to sort of clue him in that it is unwise to judge a book by its cover… namely me. I informed him that I knew all about it as my wife happened to be an executive vice president for the bank. I then pointed out that this did nothing to explain the investigation being carried out by the U.S. Attorney General’s office into criminal wrong doing at Chase.
At this point he became almost apoplectic! I had to step back a bit to keep from being sprayed as spittle formed at the corners of his mouth. “Eric Holder is a criminal he spat!” I did try to make allowances even though I felt myself begin to do a slow boil… nevertheless, I pushed the fury down, looked him directly in the eyes and said, “he’s the United States Attorney General and I choose to respect him as such.” A more prescient man would have detected the edge in my voice and noticed the fire that had begun to flicker in my eyes. Not so with this fellow…
“Well then he needs to start prosecuting criminals he bawled!” He had just crossed the Rubicon and there was no going back now. The game was afoot! Okay, I said. “Tell me which crimes he isn’t prosecuting.” “Well he can start with all those guns coming in from Mexico!” “Uh huh,” I said, “that’s ‘Fast and Furious’ and that was under George Bush.” “Next? Have you got anything else???” He turned beet red and began to sputter. No time like the present to start my evisceration of this fool. “Your problem” I said conversationally, “is you get all your news from Fox News. Studies have shown that people who don’t watch any news at all, actually know more about the news than people who watch Fox.”
At this point he literally began to shake, his fist clenched as he exclaimed, “I don’t watch Fox news… and I don’t watch CNN, ABC, CBS or NBC… furthermore, *watching any other station is useless!”* The more agitated he grew, the calmer I became. Lowering my voice a level I said, “so you’re a liar! You do get your news from Fox! You just admitted to it.” His mouth flew open and he began gulping air. Attempting to recover, he exclaimed, “no I don’t! I don’t watch any of the news channels!” He was shaking now… and I had him. Time to deliver the coup de grâce. “So where do you get your news?” I asked pleasantly. “Or do you just pull it out of your ass???”
I didn’t think it was possible for him to become any more red! He began to shake and then with the almost plaintive wail of a child, he said, “I get my news from sources…” “Which sources” I pressed. “Sources that *I* trust!” At this point I looked over at the employee, spread my arms, shrugged my shoulders and with a smile and a nod I said, “Fox!” I shook my head and calmly walked away, eggs in hand, to get the rest of my items.
A moment or two later the employee located me, walked up to me, shook my hand and said, “thank you so much. I really can’t debate these people while I’m working.” I smiled and said, “no worries, I had you covered.”