Putting Her Finger On It… November 1, 2012

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She didn’t get the promotion.

She had allowed herself permission to think about it, but had not yet said the words out loud to herself–let alone to her mate and husband of twelve years. It was just too painful–too real in a way that forbade revision.

It was a classic American injustice. She had entered into competition for this new position in the company with a younger man who was her subordinate–and everybody knew it. The idea of her receiving “the boost” was not hers alone, but held by everybody around her, who just took it for granted that she was the next in line to be … well, the next in line. Suddenly it was over and her young fledgling apprentice was promoted over her.

There seemed to be only one reason. He was a man.

She suspected that the male-dominated company reasoning was that this young fellow had recently impregnated his wife for a third time and that his financial responsibilities were more excessive than hers, since she was childless with a working husband. Of course, this was not stated aloud. That would be an admission to favoritism and sexism. But once again, as is often the case in business-driven America, the sperm whale swam away victorious while she was relegated to being a “mummy,” declared corporately dead and shoveled into a neglected tomb.

She felt bruised. Her whole being had the sensation one experiences the day after a car accident–seemingly free of injury, but the morning after, displaying the creaks and twinges of unexpected damage.

What was it that bothered her so much? The rejection? The unfairness? Was it the loss of money? It was certainly all of them–but mostly the money. There was just something magnificent about continuing to do excellent work and knowing that the paycheck reflected a better return.

Now she found herself sitting next to her husband, partner, best friend–or maybe just roommate–in their smoke-gray BMW, driving away from her job in silence. She wanted to talk but her lips were sealed because her heart had declared a moratorium on all further emotion. And she wasn’t quite sure that the man sitting next to her was prepared to be the sympathetic ear instead of the instructive father. Yes, it seemed that every time she came to share her ideas or sentiments with him, he took the profile of the professor encouraging the flailing student instead of just going eyeball-to-eyeball with equality–to embrace her as himself.

So the silence continued. The only sound in the whole car was this man of hers, tapping his fingers nervously on the steering wheel as if playing percussion for a rock and roll tune, unheard.

She was angry. She was disappointed. And she was distressed.

All at once she noticed a big, black van up ahead, with its turn signal flashing, sporting Florida license plates, trying to get over in front of them. Her melancholy and bitter spirit sprang forth.

“Don’t let them in!” she bellowed at her husband. She didn’t know why she suddenly wanted to release the pain from her own heart onto these Sunshine State strangers, but her husband obliged, speeding up and forbidding the Floridians to get in front.

As they drove by, she looked over and saw a fat, bald, aging fellow with sunglasses, who was smiling at her. She determined it was not friendly, but rather, a smirk of condescension, similar to the look on her boss’s face earlier in the day when he had gently explained how much he valued her work and that the next opportunity available would be hers.

She couldn’t take it anymore. How dare this stranger smile at her?

She rolled down her window, extended her arm and gave him the middle finger of disapproval. She tried to accentuate her disdain and displeasure with the biggest frown that her memory could manufacture.  The driver of the van just tapped his horn, waved at her, and pulled in behind them–the beneficiary of a nicer couple to the rear. She continued to keep her finger pointed to the heavens in defiance for another few seconds before yanking her arm in and restoring her window to the closed position.

All at once, she had transformed from a promising forty-year-old woman with a great future in her company to an angry peasant, hurling insults at the king who had already escaped into the castle. She became the princess at the snack bar at the bowling alley. She was the dim-witted young lass who couldn’t watch reruns of the Beverly Hillbillies without becoming homesick. She was the young mother toting her eight-year-old daughter to beauty pageants, discussing the slight differences between brands of hairspray. She was Bonnie, sitting next to her … well, in this case, Claude.

And worst of all, that big, black van with that big, bald man kept following along behind them. Was he harassing them? Was he gong to continue to tail them all the way to their home, to produce some sort of confrontation with her husband, whose virility seemed to peak at the point cheering for his favorite football team? She thought of calling the police, but what could she say?

“There’s this big, black van with Florida tags, driven by an older gent, who seems to be following us because I gave him the finger, and I think we might be in danger …”

Fortunately, her apprehensions were alleviated when two blocks later, she and her husband turned right and the van continued on its merry way. She had squandered part of her arsenal of fear for no good reason. She had given a nasty gesture of disdain and hatred to a stranger–an action she would later have to justify by embellishing a storyline about this innocent driver’s supposedly untoward behavior.

She was going home without a promotion, without a conversation with her husband–but  with a little less dignity.

Meanwhile, the black van rolled on toward Richwood, Ohio. The incident was long gone in the memories of its two passengers. They had laughed it off and moved on to more congenial pursuits.

The reason I know the story so well, of course, is because I played the part of the tubby character in the dark van. And the reason I constructed the story about this woman who gave me the finger is that I always find it easier to forgive people when I understand that they don’t know what they’re doing.

A friend of mine taught me that.

The producers of jonathots would humbly request a yearly subscription donation of $10 for this wonderful, inspirational opportunity

Abe-bull … August 2, 2012

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Of the forty-four men who have held the position of the highest office in our land, Abraham Lincoln may be one of the few who actually understood the job.

Being President of the United States demands that you comprehend the magnitude of the mission while having a mind for the messiness. You must deal with the threat of your time, keep the nation at peace in its heart, while finding a way to disregard the many voices in Congress which would steer the ship toward the rocks. Of course, being the best at something does mean you’re going to be the most criticized. For after all, everybody has an opinion on everything, which they will gladly share with everyone, and it always ends up being a little wrong every time.

Abraham Lincoln, Republican candidate for the ...

Abraham Lincoln, Republican candidate for the presidency, 1860 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

So if the name of Abraham Lincoln is brought up, you just might hear:

  • a tyrant (for after all, he did suspend many personal rights in the pursuit of keeping the country together)
  • a racist (the point being that he never really wanted to free the slaves, just scare away the English and French from assisting the South)
  • a hick (certainly reaching for his napkin instead of using his sleeve was not Abe’s first instinct)
  • a lousy husband (there are those who felt the problems with Mary Todd were due to Lincoln’s insensitivity)
  • an abused husband (in contrast, some felt that Mary Todd’s insanity held Lincoln back from even greater conclusions)
  • a Yankee (anyone south of the Mason Dixon line certainly had no problem voicing this thought)
  • stubborn (well, if you consider that he stood against almost everybody at some time or another)
  • honest (that was his campaign slogan, you know–Honest Abe)
  • a lawyer (he was licensed to do so, though didn’t spend a tremendous amount of time in that pursuit)
  • had a girl’s voice (he was known for his whiney tone and high pitch)
  • a failure (by the way, if you’re keeping score, he actually lost that Lincoln-Douglas debate)
  • awkward (what’s the old saying? He was too tall for his feet)
  • an abolitionist (the average plantation owner didn’t see any reason for sticking up for black people unless they were trying to woo one late at night in the slave quarters)
  • a gay man (yes, there is some sort of report that he shared his bed on cold nights with a male traveling companion) and most recently…
  • a vampire hunter (no idea on that one)

There you go. Obviously, all of these things can’t be true and what is true is probably lost in antiquity. So most of the opinions of people nowadays would just be what I call Abe-bull.

Here’s what we do know–of the two most important questions posed to Abraham Lincoln, he answered them in such a way that it brought dignity to his memory. And those two questions are simple: what is the best of my understanding of the present situation? So therefore, looking at myself and my abilities, what can I do?

There were many people who lived in Abraham Lincoln’s day who had a grasp of the problem but were frightened of the solution. To Lincoln, it was easy. His understanding of the situation was that the United States was a union of people who believed that all men are created equal. So therefore, he decided to maintain the integrity of that union at all cost, and in the process, set in motion a mission to make us equal.

Now, Richard Nixon came along at a time when the country was embroiled in a never-ending war, social upheaval and confusion, with our sons being returned in body bags every single day. His response to that was to elongate the war, increase the bombing and lie to the American people about his actions, culminating in a cover-up that nearly emotionally destroyed this country.

Judas Iscariot lived in a day when his nation was being occupied by the Roman Empire, and he believed there was a need for a leader to come along and save them, allowing them the freedom to be themselves in worship. But when he met a man who had a message of love for the entire world, he opted to reject him and betray him because the solution was not totally on point with his own thinking.

Franklin Roosevelt came along at a time when the country was in a depression and eventually involved in a war, and rather than following previously policy or even reasonable thinking, he created jobs (often made up) and generated a pathway which eventually led us out of the financial ruin, mainly due to our involvement in a war to destroy fascism.

Jesus of Nazareth came to the earth when some of the worst domination and violence that ever existed was in full swing, and instead of feeding the frenzy of revenge, he asked men to seek out their own talents to make the world a better place. And because they decided to remain vicious, he was willing to become their savior instead of just their teacher.

Can I tell you folks, I have been called fat, generous, stubborn, liberal, conservative, a heretic, a preacher, a singer, a squawker, a musician, a hack, a husband, a meanie, a saint, a sinner, a lover, a fumbler, a Yankee, a Rebel, and most recently, a gypsy troubadour (I assume similar to being a vampire hunter).

I ignore all of these assertions. I follow the philosophy of Abraham Lincoln, so I take a look at the world around me and I come up with this: to the best of my understanding, God loves people and wants them to expand and succeed. So therefore, I think I should let them know of this great opportunity in as many ways as possible.

There are two ways to live in this world. You can listen to all the news reports or you can go out and make some good news.

It’s up to you.

The producers of jonathots would humbly request a yearly subscription donation of $10 for this wonderful, inspirational opportunity

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