Those People

Dad ran a Sinclair station on the corner of Hobart St. and Highway 60 in Pampa when I was a kid. This would have been in the mid to late 60's. Sometimes I would ride my bike up there and hang out, checking the oil level and tire pressure on customer's cars or pumping gas. And sometimes just monkeying around in the service bays. In those days you 'monkeyed around', you didn't 'eff things up'.

Anyway, one thing I noticed about Dad during that time was that he was the same guy at work as he was at home. He'd take too long to tell a story. He'd patch a tire instead of sell a new one. He seemed perfectly content with his station in life ... never pushing too hard to get ahead ... always seeming to accept things as they were and doing his best to just roll with it. From his Dust Bowl and Great Depression shaped perspective I'm sure he thought he was doing just fine, thank you.

One of the men who worked with Dad was named Bill. Bill was a small, wiry guy with a lined face. He was also a tobacco chewer, which fascinated me, especially because he seemed totally unconcerned about the spit and the stains and the great, gross wad of wet weed in his mouth. Dad said he was a 'drinker' too, which, in his opinion, was better than either 'drunk' or 'teetotaler'; extremism of any kind was frowned upon. Bill also had what Dad called 'short man's disease', what others might call a chip on his shoulder or self esteem issues, but in the end all that mattered to Dad was "he's a good hand."

Dad went out periodically to "collect", which meant that he drove around town and collected payments from all the folks who bought gas or service on credit. They didn't use a credit card, they just signed a ticket and once a month Dad wrote them up a bill, went to their house or business and collected the payment. Sometimes they paid the whole thing, sometimes they didn't. If they didn't pay something, their credit at the station got cut off.

Dad came back from collecting one day and someone had paid him in trade ... he had accepted a 12 gauge Savage Arms pump shotgun* in lieu of cash. I did not know the details, the who's or the why's, but Bill certainly had a strong opinion about it. He didn't know why Dad did business with "those people", much less give them credit, they were all "no good and lazy" and next time they would pay him with "a fried chicken and a yella meat melon." Dad's reply was simple. He said, "'Those people' that pay their bill, that's who I do business with and give credit to. That's the only kind of people to do business with."

Dad was ahead of the civil rights curve for a man of his generation; he brought up that incident every time we took that shotgun bird hunting and would drive the point of the story home with words like:

It don't matter what people say. A white guy will screw you just as soon as a black guy will.

I don't need to know where a man goes to church, I need to know if he paid the last guy.

Watch what folks do, not what they say, 'cause what they do to others is what they'll do to you.

The basic theme of these lessons was to judge people on their merits and actions, not their skin color or their community standing. Dad wouldn't have much trouble deciding who to vote for in this year's presidential election and his decision would have nothing to do with who's white or who's black.

Obama used a technicality to get elected to the State Senate in Illinois which was called either "not honorable" or "shrewd", depending on your particular perspective.

Then he said he would not run for president in 2008 because he felt he was inexperienced, but he did anyway. I'd post the link to the video on youtube, but surprisingly (?) they have all been removed.

He went from State Senator to U.S. Senator to Presidential candidate in a very short time span, because he is, well, pick your adjective ... greedy? opportunistic? arrogant? confident? Wait, I have one ... "destined" ... that's it.

I'd like to buy him for what he's worth and sell him for what he thinks he'll bring.

Then, of course, he reneged on a pledge to accept public financing for the presidential campaign. His campaign has also "motivated" supporters to flood the lines on radio talk shows, to threaten prosecution for advertisements, and has recently decided to take their ball and go home rather than answer tough questions.

Contrast that with the career and actions of John McCain. Which one would you do business with?

When Biden gets tough but fair questions, he runs and hides, but Palin expands her role despite the entirely unfair attacks. Biden lies so smoothly it comes off as intelligence when it's really ignorance. Palin can't even tell a white lie convincingly; I don't think it's in her. Which one would you give credit to?

It is John McCain and Sarah Palin who are "those people" in this election ... the kind who pay their bills and you can give credit to. If Dad were asked about Obama and Biden I can guess he'd say:

They're as worthless as tits on a boar hog.

They wouldn't know an honest days work if it bit 'em in the ass.

They're just like a blister ... they show up after the work is done and want to get all the attention.

What you see is what you get, folks. The question is are you paying attention to what they are showing you? Are you right sure you know who you're doing business with?

* I still have the shotgun, though I don't go bird hunting much anymore. Who knew poodles were gun dogs? He loves the smell of gun oil.


  1. I voted early as I have the last four years that I have been retired. There were about 50 people in line, fewer in the R - Z than in the past. The woman monitoring the line talked too much as usual, but I did find out one could vote on Saturday and Sunday. Wow! She also told us we couldn't take anything about the election in with us.

    When I signed in the two old women asked me about the weather. Still cold and windy. The man handing out the ballots said, "Pick one." I had noticed that the political signs stood 25 feet and beyond the door of the sub-courthouse. It didn't take me long to mark my ballot. Just the national and state races were contested.

    On the way out at two other cardboard voting booths, I saw a woman in a sari with the Voter's Guide spread out on the counter and a black man with another guide on their tables.

    Yes, in my county we still mark ballots by had. No, I didn't say anything. Shame on me! I had to pick up my granddaughter from pre-school.

  2. Forgive the typos please. I posted before I previewed. Besides I'm old.