please stop tickling me

In which we laugh and laugh and laugh. And love. And drink.

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Location: Portland, Oregon

Otium cum Dignitatae

Wednesday, June 22, 2005


Summer's here, and now's the time for dancing in the streets. It is not, however, time to be stuck in a little pickup all day, delivering auto parts. A couple of summers ago, though, that's exactly what I was doing. The work wasn't a problem, and the traffic ultimately wasn't, either. As always, it's the personalities.
My boss-to-be decided to open my job interview by going on at length about a factoid he'd just heard on the radio: that Russia and France had been selling jets to Iraq. He went on about this at length for a while, then stopped and looked at me. I don't know if he finally remembered that this was a job interview and he wasn't doing any interviewing, or if he wanted me to say something.
"Don't the French make notoriously bad jets?" I asked.
He looked at me blankly for a minute, not sure where to go with that one, and then said, "No, no they don't. Anyway..." Then the interview began.
I really have heard that about French jets, and have had that opinion of mine both confirmed and discounted since, but what was really going on in my mind was, 'What was that?'. Was I expected to either join in his little dissertation about how you can't trust your so-called allies in this world and how it just goes to show how foreigners are always evil, or come back at him with some weird defense of Russia and France's trade policies? Fact is, I felt like I was being politically vetted for a job in which I would be bringing auto parts to garages all over the tri-county area, and not being an envoy, say. The idea that there would seem to be some loyalty test involved with this not-enough-pay job irked me somewhat, but I always say, we don't talk politics or religion with the bossman, unless he's paying for that, too.
He was a pretty staunch Catholic, too, but in his defense he had also done his reading, and knew a lot about history, the Bible and other religions. This didn't prevent him from getting all exercised about the things he heard all day on talk radio, and I sometimes wonder what The Invisible Hand is doing these days, making a bunch of people who are pretty damn angry and irrational all the time anyway even more bloodthirsty. What end do they expect to achieve? It doesn't necessarily make them buy more products (unless you count those Made In China American flags that were so cheaply made that in those days they littered the side of every road I saw), and so far doesn't seem to drive up the enlistment rate in our volunteer army (no more so than the lack of decent paying jobs, health care or money for education does).
He and I got along pretty well, probably because I refused to argue with the guy. I did my job, made small talk, saw to it that if we got into anything deep, it was history, language, etc. He and the rest of the management seemed really happily surprised when I told them that I needed a week off to go see The Grand Old Opry.
"You like country music?" they asked. Well yeah, I said, and did not elaborate that I also enjoy target shooting, sometimes have pork three meals a day, and if allowed to, could probably drink my body weight in whiskey.
"You like bluegrass?", the little guy assistant manager asked. I love it, I said, and-
"Oh! Then you should've gone to that Brooks n' Dunn show last night with us! It was..."
I waited for him to finish. I did not then say that I think shit like that is not country at all, but more like 80's rock. Closet-case hat acts like that put me off my feed, sir, and worse yet, most of those guys make their money off of lying to their audiences about our place in the world, and just spreading more hate. Patsy and Kitty, Johnny and Hank, Hank and Hank wouldn't do that to you, and neither would Bob or Roger. This music is religion to me, and these people who couldn't get a job doing better things are defiling the damn temple. What I said instead was, "I mostly like the older stuff."
I kept on discovering strange things in the worldview of these people, who worked in this warehouse a mere five minute bike ride from my house. There was this guy with the goatee-'stache combo, tucked in polo shirt and pleated shorts (why do all the conservatives I meet these days look exactly like gay men?) who smoked cigarettes just like I do, so we talked a fair amount out on the loading dock. I was listening to him lecturing one of the younger employees about how 9/11 crashed our economy. At that point, I felt I'd been there long enough to disagree with people who were not my boss, so I pointed out that the economy started tanking more like '99-2000 or so, after the dot com bubble burst. Not that 9/11 helped, mind you.
He completely disagreed, which was weird because he was one of the many people who were there after losing his job in that other industry whose illusory successes so filled the Nineties with promise. It was like he'd forgotten: Oh yeah, we spent most of the '90's investing in a bunch of companies that really didn't exist, except on paper, just like we did in the '20's, with the usual results. It sure drove up the stock prices for a while, and made us all look a lot better on paper than we really were, and it was all damned lies. He'd forgotten, though. The A-rabs, you know.
And of course I couldn't say more: well, and if you have a problem with the A-rabs, maybe you should ask why so many of those A-rabs on those planes were Saudis who are supposed to be our buddies, and maybe you should ask too who paid them to be there, since no good at all could come to the Arab world with this act. The only person who would profit from it was an unpopular executive who was finally selected in some sort of judicial coup, not so long before, and who hadn't gotten his way on anything he'd tried as of yet, and needed a war to boost the economy, and his pals in the resource-extraction and defense contracting rackets were saying, "Scare 'em enough, they'll elect you God and let you do anything. They'll beg you to make 'em slaves." If I suggested that probably a small handful of Americans brought about the death of roughly three thousand Americans that day, it'd be interesting, for sure, to see what would've happened to me.
But hell, there's certainly precedent for it: that great bugaboo of right wingers everywhere, FDR, certainly knew that Pearl Harbor was coming. He wanted a war too. That great Republican McKinley (or perhaps that even greater propagandist, Hearst) saw to it that the battleship Maine blew sky high in Havana harbor that morning in 1898 so we could go to war with the not-so-powerful-anymore Spain, and take Cuba, The Phillipines and ultimately, Panama away from them...Or we send a bunch of nuts with guns out to illegally encroach on Mexican territory, and when they finally are run to ground in some mission in San Antone,
they are slaughtered for their trespasses. By the time that any questions are being asked, everyone's too busy screaming, 'Remember the Alamo!' to pay any attention. At the end in Veracruz, General Santa Ana said, "God is a Yankee." LBJ lied (or was lied to) about what happened that evening in the Gulf of Tonkin, where it seems pretty clear now that the only thing that didn't happen was any U.S. ships being attacked. It didn't stop us from falling into twenty some odd years of Vietnamese muck that has us in pieces to this day.
So as I say, precedent exists, but it's not like I'm there to tell all the people; I'm there to deliver the goods. But even that was a problem: All day long, I'm out in the suburbs, so I see all these people who buy the lie. I'm delivering auto parts to these assholes in SUVs who I guess like spending too much money on gas, going to work in what remains of the software industry, built over the corpse of what was once great soil for growing crops. Here I am delivering auto parts to make their gleaming death chariots go, so they can drive some more, necessitating more wars in parts of the world where there just happens to be oil.
So in the end, I finally had to stop. Got sick of being stuck in a Toyota Tacoma all day (and boy, wasn't the person who named that one not from the Northwest or what? It' s like naming a car The Cleveland or something), and got sick of the childish people I encountered out there. I know that if a change is ever going to be made in the ultimately self-destructive course this country is on, it's probably going to have to happen in the 'burbs. I just can't hack it, though. They are their own death, and they're proud of it, gawd bless 'm. I have many more stories about the nice people there ( I could do an entire posting about the guy who ran the German auto repair place out in Hell's Burrito), but I must stop, as I am often told, because we must be nice in issues of Faith.



Blogger rich bachelor said...

And as we all know, the Mirage is a French fighter jet. As we all know.

1:34 AM  
Blogger carrier said...

I thought the mirage was a french tickler.

But nice. I especially like the shimmering spectoral government aspect. How easy it would be for just a handful of very powerful people to tweak things here or there for their own evil purposes. Or more likely just to fatten up their own portfolio's. Either way, though some will no doubt scoff, to believe that government rumbles along just the way it says in the old civics book is really fooling yourself.

7:03 PM  
Blogger Erudite Redneck said...

I see you have something of the erudite redneck in yer own self. Excellent stuff, sir.

5:25 AM  
Blogger Mark said...

I do listen to talk radio,but unlike many who blindly accept everything they hear, I sometimes object to things they say. I have mentioned the issues I have with Hannity and Rush before, and I believe Rush, although entertaining, is too full of himself and I never, NEVER make comments on what he says in my blog. I try very hard to formulate my opinions on current events BEFORE I listen to talk radio, although sometimes I hear something there before I hear it anywhere else, but I still try to formulate my own opinion, regardless.
For example, My favorite talk radio show is Laura Ingraham's, but yesterday she said something I took offense to. She mentioned that if the homeless gave complaints on the way they are treated, they should take their complaints to the city council, or write an letter to the editor of the local newspaper. And I'm thinking, "what a bourguois (I admit I don't know how to spell that word, but give me a break. It's french!)thing to say! It lowered my opinion of her somewhat.

7:44 PM  

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