Monday, September 8, 2014

Week of 09/08/2014

The Two-Beverage Dilemma
A travelling businessman passes through the oversized fictional county of Americana and stops in the equally fictional town of Republica; population 1776.  He is somewhat disappointed by the size of the town and the lack of any meaningful development.  It had one car dealership with a service station, one grocery store, a post office, one realty agency, one gas station, one church (Baptist, of course), one hotel with the only restaurant, and an incredibly small Wal-Mart. 
But he was also surprised – and somewhat disgusted – at the overinflated sense of self-promotion in the town through store signs and billboards.  Not only did this small town classify itself as being a “metropolitan city”, but it arrogantly proclaimed itself to be the best city in the whole United States, if not the world.  Everything was considered “World Class” and “America’s Best” and “The Finest”.  The police department boasted through a cheap lighted sign that it had “The Best Crime-Rate in America”.  The lone realty agency proclaimed itself to having “The Most Successful Realtors In American History”.  The lone gas station claimed it had “the cheapest and cleanest gasoline anyone could ever get in the world”.  And, of course, the Wal-Mart store claimed it was the biggest and best store you could ever find… but then again we are talking about Wal-Mart, so for them it is pretty much par for the course.
Still, the businessman was getting tired and he needed to stop for the night, so he pulled his car into the lone hotel – the “largest and most luxurious hotel one could ever find” – and gets a room.  He’s immediately upgraded to the “Executive Suite”… meaning that the room had a small refrigerator and a working TV set.  Since it’s late in the night, he doesn’t bother with getting dinner and simply turns on the TV to one of two channels (the one that doesn’t have televangelists) and soon drifts off to sleep.
The next morning he gets up, takes his shower, gets dressed, and heads on over to the lone restaurant – the “five-star Grade-A restaurant in the world” – for breakfast.  He is surprised, though, when the lone waitress hands him a postcard for a menu.  He could choose between eggs-and-sausage or eggs-and-toast and could have either coffee or “juice” to drink.
“What’s the juice?” he asked the waitress, who fashioned a button that said “America’s Greatest” on her apron.
The waitress shrugged.  “I think it’s tomato.  I don’t really know because every so often, we change it up.”
“I’ll just have the coffee,” he said, “with two creams and sugar.”
The waitress soured her face.  “Nobody drinks coffee with cream and sugar,” she snidely said.
“I do,” he said.
“Well… nobody does!  That’s just the way it is!”
At this point the hotel manager shows up, asking what the uproar is about.  The businessman tries to explain that he simply wanted to drink his coffee with cream and sugar, but the manager simply brushes it off and says that “nobody” drinks coffee any way but black.  The businessman then asks if he could have some orange juice instead.
“Oh, nobody drinks orange juice ‘round here,” came the reply.
The businessman points to the jug of orange juice in the display case behind the bar, along with several other beverages, and asks why they’re on display there if “nobody drinks it”.
The manager shrugs and says “that’s just the way that it is.  People either drink coffee or they drink juice… although some folks will have tea.”
That catches the businessman’s attention.  “Tea?  How can you say that people drink either coffee or juice if you then say that some of them will have tea?”
The manager again shrugs.  “Well, they call it ‘tea’, but really it’s just coffee in a different bag sitting in a cup of hot water.  They want to pretend it’s something different when it’s really just coffee.  Hell, we sometimes don’t even use fresh coffee.  Sometimes it’s just the grounds from the last pot put in a tea bag.  But people think it’s something different.”
“And people actually drink it?” the businessman asks incredulously. 
“Sure,” the manager says with pride.  “Sometimes they’ll even ask for a second cup!  Best in the nation.”
Just then the waitress returned with a cup of coffee and a plate of eggs and sausages.  The scrambled eggs were runny and half-cooked.  The sausages were dried out and re-heated shriveled links that looked like they came out of a box and then thrown in a microwave.
“I’m sure you’ll enjoy our first-class meal,” the manager said with a smile.  “After all, it’s the…”
“Best in the nation,” finished the businessman in defeat. “I’m sure it will be.  Thank you.”
Of course the businessman’s concerns were right about his breakfast.  It was just as deplorable as it looked.  The food was bland and lukewarm.  The coffee was even worse.  It was half-heated and very bitter.  He could even taste the grounds.  Cream and sugar could have made it palatable, but obviously that wasn’t going to happen because “folks just don’t do that ‘round here.”
He was getting ready to leave when a burly gun-toting detective from Illinois asked him about wanting something other than the two choices of drinks.  He simply stated his case about seeing other beverages in the display case and wondered why nobody can have any of them.  The gun-toting detective said that the businessman simply “made a mistake” in thinking there were more than two options. 
The businessman simply shrugged and said “yeah, I guess I did.”
Now obviously the story is fictional, but let’s get brutally honest here… this is precisely what we have in terms of our political system today.  An abysmal self-delusional narcissistic oligarchy that is borderline kleptocratic that we pretend is the “best in the world” simply because we say that it is.  No other reason than that.  Simply because “we said so”.
People “claim” they want change, but even when given that change and is put on display, they supposedly don’t choose it.  They would rather choose between the two tepid and stale options they are told to pick from simply because “that’s just the way that it is.”
Imagine what your own neighborhood would be like if we lived like we voted.
Oh, and while the story is hypothetical, the gun-toting detective from Illinois is apparently very much true.

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