Saturday, June 03, 2006


Since I am up at would be dark o'clock were it winter, a little posting is in order. In keeping with my early morning mood, I will regale my readership (yes, both of you) with a story of evil, high finance (the ubiquitous they, say it is the root of all evil), aggression and general crankitude.

I'm not going to lie to you. In the days following the end to my musical retirement, I was in a good mood, even an optimistic one. Anyway, shortly thereafter, we (me, myself, I, and my mom - the car was packed!) were driving home from an outing, feeling Pollyanaish rays of sunshine warm our benevolent little faces and talking about how generally good and kind most people are.

Because I owed her money and was too lazy to actually get out of the car, I decided to stop at the drive up ATM before going home. Under the circumstances, it seemed like the wisest course of action. Even though she looks sweet, my mother is not above hiring some silver haired goon from the senior center where she volunteers to break my knee caps (or at least feebly hit them with a cane), if I don't pay up on time.

So, we stopped. As was getting my money out, a BIG, black monster truck pulled up behind me. It was one of those huge, gas guzzling vehicles that I abhor. It had tinted windows and bedecked with flags, making it look like the first vehicle in the Presidential motorcade. If I had noticed him before he started screaming something mostly intelligible, but recognizably peppered with obscenities, I would have wondered when the band was going to show up to play Hail to the Chief . As it was, I only noticed him as I was putting my ATM card away.

At first, I thought he was impatient at having to wait, which annoyed me, because I wasn't exactly dwadling. I don't know what possessed me, because I am usually not at all confrontational, but before my brain realized what it was doing, my head had stuck itself out of my window and my mouth was yelling the words: "What is wrong with you? Can't you act like a human being and wait quietly for five seconds until it's your turn?!?!?!?!?" In retrospect, I realize that human beings are capable of some pretty horrendous behavior, so he probably was just taking my advice when this made him scream and curse even more. He looked as though his hate-filled head was going to explode. If he is this way with strangers, I can only imagine what a nightmare he is for those close to him.

Who is he to try to bully me anyway? Half of me wanted to go back and be just as aggro back at him, and then I realized that his tantrum probably had more to do with the "U.S. out of Iraq NOW!" sticker in the back window of my car than it had to do with any ATM related malfeasance or sluggishness on my part. I imagine that he is one of those flag wavers who veer from patriotism into chauvinism and that my disagreement with U.S. foreign policy irked his "If you're not for us, you're against us" sensibilities, because he doesn't grasp that when you're "for something", you have an obligation to speak up when it is going down the wrong path.

Why is it that such people believe in freedom of speech, as long as one does not have the affrontery to disagree with them? Even if the four sweetest words in the English language are "You are SO right!", it is simplistic to see the world, and especially politics and policy, as anything but nuanced. It strikes me that this man's behavior is, on a small scale, exactly the sort of behavior in our policy that has half the world angry with us. There is nothing wrong with looking out for one's interests or even with strongly espousing a particular point of view, but there is something wrong with doing so with no regard to the rights of others.

I don't know what this man's problem was. Maybe he had a son in Iraq, maybe he is just some ueber-patriot, who can't handle dissent, or maybe he was just a garden variety asshole. All I do know, was that by the time I had made it around the parking lot to give him a piece of my mind, I was thinking "What's the use of me getting my blood pressure up over someone like this?" So, instead of screaming back at him, I just waved and told him as sweetly as I could to have a nice day.


Chris Date said...

If you think that only half the world is angry with the US, your calculations are way out.

I could go on about this at length but I will do so elsewhere. Something changed in 2004. Before then, those outside of the US were generally able to make a distinction between Americans and their government. The 2000 election could be dismissed as an aberration, the result stolen, but to re-elect this regime means that all Americans are tainted. If I meet one at random, in an internet chat room for instance, statistically it is highly likely that they voted for Bush, for Nader or did not vote. All are equally culpable. And yes, I do understand the electoral college but that doesn't alter the fact that in 2004 Bush/Cheney had a majority of the popular vote but in 2000 did not.

What I'm saying is that the arsehole you encountered is actually the norm. We have seen him for a long time, loud and vocal at, say, the Atlanta Olympics. It's often said that patriotism is America's religion, its disease. This guy is just the way we expect an American to be. If you don't encounter more like him every day, you are very lucky.

Americans are 4% of the world's population. Among the other 96%, where are you expecting to find anyone who is not angry at the US?

Sorry if the tone is depressing but that is the reality as I see it. For once, I can say that I am not alone in feeling this way.

  Love you though!

Martina said...

Martina said...
You know, I wrote you a long and insightful response the other day, which was promptly eaten by the Internets, which even belched loudly after swallowing it.

In short, my response was that you've not brought up anything about which I've not thought already. I think I may have also pointed out that it actually is not that unusual to run into people in this part of the country who were not Bush supporters in the last election. If it were up to Oregon, Washington and California, he would not be speaking on the television RIGHT NOW about how we, the proprieters of Abu Graib, Guantanamo Bay and alleged gross violators of human rights in Haditha have a respect for human life. Of course, he didn't put it quite that way (he put it more in the context of the slain al-Zarqawi's lack of respect for human life), but leave out the references to our violations and that was the gist. Every time I hear such talk, I think of hearing Eman Achmed Khamas' proclamation a few months ago when I heard her speak that the only freedom the U.S. has won for them is the freedom to die.

Sonya said...

Every time my daughters and I see a car with those flags, we all say "LOOK! It's the president" and we all hum "hail to the chief" in unison. It's GRAND fun! Kinda' like a trendy version of "popeye" or "eye spy".

Martina said...

Leave it to you to start such a tradition, Sonya! I love that you and your girls have so much fun together. They're going to have some great memories of you as they grow up! How are you doing, btw? Is your health stuff getting more under control?