Monthly Archives: March 2017

A Verse for the Powerful Play


It had not been the best day.

I woke up nauseated, took two hours to get mobile, and had to fork over $360 at CVS for 50 pills of one of my half dozen required medications. So glad America is great again.

On top of all that, my bike was stuck at the bottom of a steep parking lot outside the drug store.  It may be considered a bike, but it’s easily as long and heavy as my smart car.

I walked into the CVS and asked a cashier if she could call a security guard from the lot to help me put the bike up the hill. A large black man, perhaps 6′ 2″ and 55 years old, turned to face me.

“What’s the problem?”

“By bike needs a push. I hate to be a nuisance, but you’re a big guy. Any chance I could ask for for a hand?”

“Sure,” the man replied. “Let’s take a look.”

As we walked toward the automatic doors, the man stopped and asked: “This is your bike, right? I mean, you own it?”

I was thrown off and a little amused by what I assumed was a wry joke. After a brief hesitation, I told him that yes, the bike was mine.

“I had to ask,” he replied. “I am a black man.”

As we walked toward the bike, he explained further. Once, he said, he accompanied a white, female co-worker to a bench in their business park. She was struggling personally and professionally, he said, and wanted to get some air on the park bench. As they sat together, she began to weep. He told her life would be okay. Hang in there.

Moments later, a police officer arrived. “Are you okay, Miss?” the cop asked. “Is this man bothering you?”

The woman was offended. The man was offended. The cop was awaiting an answer.

The man and I struggled for 10 minutes with the bike, futilely trying to get it to horizontal ground. We couldn’t budge that obese bike. Panting, sweaty, we gave up; I told the man I’d simply corral a few people together or call AAA. I was self conscious keeping him there, given the experience he shared.

“I’m Scott,” I said, offering a hand. “Thank you for helping. I never realized being a Good Samaritan can be risky.”

He shook my hand. “I’m James,” he said. “I think about it every day.”

A few hours later, I got the bike back home, though I’m not sure I ever psychologically left the CVS parking lot. I took out the jumper cables and Fix-A-Flat from my crappy PT Cruiser and put them in my smart.

I decided that if I ever saw a black motorist stranded on the road, I would pull over.

Then, a terrible epiphany: What if I did come across that stranded driver? Wouldn’t a cop assume the same thing if he saw us together? How did we get to this place, where a Good Samaritan instinct is eclipsed by a guarded one? However much I loathe Donald Trump, whatever poxes I cast on his house, could it possibly compare to James’ bleak worldview?

Fucking not-great-day indeed.

Later that night, though, something happened. I came across a story out of Lakewood, Wash., near Seattle. A woman named Chrissy Marie Wright came home to find that one of her five wind chimes had been stolen. But within a few hours, she found a crumpled note at her door, containing a crumpled $5 bill.

The note, from a five-year old boy named Jake, explained that the chime, which had butterflies on it, reminded his sister of their mother, who died.

Jake left $5 and wrote, “I’m sorry. This is (the) only money I have. Please do not be mad.”

Wright posted the note on Facebook, which led her to Jake. She returned the money — and gave him an extra butterfly wind chime so he and his sister could each have one.

Here I was, questioning the effectiveness of Good Samaritan-thinking, and a five-year-old schools me on why it’s always worth pulling over.

What a great day.

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Ever Thus to Dimwits


I’m lucky enough to have friends and a mother who suffer my theories, although I have no idea how gladly.

There’s the Lift-and-Separate Theory of technology.

The God-as-Deadbeat-Dad Theory of religion.

And, of course, the Great Race War Theory of politics: the hypothesis that racial tensions can be quantifiably measured — so, to some degree, predicted — by the racial makeup of the nation as compared to the racial makeup of the nation’s Top 500 executives. And you’ll get a rough (ever sliding) compass reading of our place on the Great Race War scale.

The good news: That theory is out the window.

The bad news: The Great Race War will start much simpler: with a quarter-inch bullet from a Trump supporter.

Trump made the suggestion as he does most: on Twitter and out his ass.
He offered, without proof, that the former president was personally responsible for bugging and trying trying to derail his campaign.

And with that, Trump’s lunatic base suddenly has a legitimate reason (in what substitutes as their eyes) to applaud assassinations.

Trump cast himself as a Jesus figure in the second presidential debate, offering to “take the arrows” from his opponent in a crusade to resurrect the nation. Does anyone doubt a zealot would sacrifice his life (and others) to protect the political Chosen One?

And there’s little evidence Trump would want to prevent one, even if he could. Consider the only two real acts he’s taken in the infancy of his presidency: a Muslim ban rand a $50 billion budget increase for the Defense Department, the nation’s largest police force. All we’d need is a shovel to entrench ourselves deeper.

The president is awfully fond of laying guilt at the feet of his anger; Remember his ‘Blame a federal judge if we suffer a terrorism attack?’

So be it, Mr. President. Take it from an old newsman who knows how a paper is laid on a doorstep.

Here’s the latest issue of Blame,Mr. President. Delivered to your door.

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One Man’s Treasure


My mother must have a secret parenting advice column…

NEW WILMINGTON, Pa. (AP) — A Pennsylvania college student got a reminder to take out the trash when his mother sent him some garbage in a care package.

Eighteen-year-old Connor Cox tells WHTM-TV that his mother sent two boxes to him at Westminster College in New Wilmington last month.

One box contained food and other goodies. The other contained garbage.

When he called to ask whether that was a mistake, Cox’s mother, Connie, told him, “No, that’s the trash you were supposed to take out” during a recent visit home.

Cox says he laughed hysterically at the prank, then tweeted a photo of the package.

Cox has three sisters and says he has a special relationship with his mother. He says, “She knows what to say at the exact time she should say it.”

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