Dropped in the Pot

While the world turns and limos burn, some of us are at work, which is okay. Someone has to sell the books, but I’d rather be punching Nazis.

Something happened yesterday which was, I admit, an infinitesimal occurrence, insignificant in the grand scheme of revolution, but it struck me as strange so I’ll share it. If this is me, the frog, being plopped into a nice comfortable pot full of 90° F water, I’m not going to notice the incremental increase in temperature if I don’t take note of it now.

Yesterday I manned the service desk and did my thing. This usually means shelving merchandise and assisting customers, but late January is slow times in the book biz. I mostly stared into space and contemplated existence until I saw a couple of coworkers getting ready to leave. Current events being what they are, we had a chat.

I’ve tried my best to recall if I said something really off the wall, but I’m sure I didn’t. I absolutely did not mention Fully Automated Luxury Polyamorous Pansexual Post-scarcity Space Communism (FALP³SC, still working on it, folks), and I’m positive that while we did view a photo of property damage and express glee while doing so, no one saw us.

What I do remember is a family walking by as I described how the new White House website must have been primed to go, because as soon as the new president was inaugurated, boom, there goes climate change. Boom, there goes LGBT rights. Magical fairy bells, here comes a terrifying section on law enforcement written in the worst authoritarian tone imaginable.

The family never slowed down or asked for help, and the only reason I took note of them was because of the cacophony of harumphs and murmurs as they refused to make eye contact and continued their march down the aisle with hunched shoulders. “Opprobrium,” I imagine they must have growled through gritted teeth. “Calumny!”

My coworkers and I concluded our chat, and I commenced gazing longingly out the windows for another 15-20 minutes until I received a page. “Bob, can you bring me the new Clive Cussler book?”

Sure, no problem.

I made it up there in under 15 seconds, and guess who waited impatiently by the register? The Harumphs. The older guy, who looked like he was transitioning from Dad to Grandpa, wouldn’t let me hand the book to the cashier. It was three inches from her hand and he snatched it out of my hand and placed it into hers. Okay. Weird.

I returned to my station as the Loneliest Bookstore Traffic Cop and helped a couple of folks find teen fiction (it’s always teen fiction) between warging out and going to the Land of Make Believe.

Then, my coworker, the one who had paged me to the register, approached and asked a question.

“Who were you just talking to?”

“Oh, I was talking to Andrew and Veronique, like twenty minutes ago.”

“Oh,” she said. “Yeah. That’s right. Well, the customer said you wouldn’t help him because you were too busy talking politics and his wife was like ‘Yeah he wouldn’t help us at all.‘ ”

“No,” I said. “They never stopped at the desk to ask for help, but I know that’s because they heard what we were talking about.”

Which was LGBT rights. We weren’t even using rad cusses. We were discussing how you may have rights, for now, but you can’t find mention of them on the site. I’d been told that they were removed from the Department of Labor site as well, but I can still find them there. Someone’s wires got crossed in the fog-of-war reporting, which is usually the case online. Still, keep an eye on it. Things change.

Am I shocked? No. I want to reiterate, as well, that I know this isn’t a big deal compared to what has happened, what is happening, and what certainly will happen. I keep imagining I’m seated in front of some gray Republican senator on a committee, and he’s telling me to take a Valium. A tiny baby Valium, because I’m a tiny baby.

Still, we have yelled about politics at the service desk almost daily for eleven years now. It is our fortress against the cold, conservative Arkansas wind. We have discussed fucking Maoist revolution and I’ve never received a complaint. But yesterday, that day of all days, it finally happened for the most benign fucking reason. Someone got their collective panties in a bunch because we were upset that the new regime cares more for fascist language than they do LGBT rights, and the timing cannot be coincidence.

“Where’s that photo of Trump holding up the rainbow flag?”

They might have heard me say that.

So here it is, my report from Stupidland, in the heart of Trump Central, floating in the center of a sea of red, on the day you guys are marching for our freedom. Back during ‘Nam when your grandparents were all longhaired and trippin’, the folks around here were sporting buzz cuts in their hot rods. There are few liberals here, and even fewer Space Communists.

I sent a couple of emails, though. Does that count?

Anyway, that was yesterday’s temperature reading. Maybe today will see it increase a notch or two and we’ll be whispering in the side aisles instead of beating our chests at the service desk. Perhaps nothing will occur and we can chalk this up to Little Bobby Talbot yelling at clouds. In my experience, 99% of pissed off customers go home and drop it. Then you have the fantastic 1% of emailing, letter writing fanatics. Let’s hope I didn’t argue for the rights of other humans in front of one of those guys.

The West Coast is looking great these days. Pacifica, I hope you can hold your own against the Orc hordes waiting just over the Rockies. I’m afraid the New England Confederation will be quickly swamped by Real Americans. Canada doesn’t want this Arkansas trash. Please don’t judge me by my accent, or the fact that I followed Milo Yiannopoulos on Twitter before he got banned. I watched enough Ninja Turtles as a kid to do a rough Michelangelo.

I’ll be that weird bald guy at the beach bookstore who says “cowabunga” too much for comfort. Everyone will know where he’s actually from, but they’ll know he means well.