Watering Hole, Thursday, October 21st: Idle Chit-Chat

“I’m surprised someone hasn’t killed him yet.”

I am a Customer Service Specialist for a “major footcare products company” (no, NOT the-one-who-shall-not-be-named, rhymes with, oh, let’s say ‘Proctor Moles.) I speak to people all over the country (and Canada) each day, taking orders, answering questions, etc. Sometimes people will chat, sometimes not. The elderly customers seem to be the most talkative, often commenting that it’s ‘nice to talk with a real person.’ Conversational topics can cover foot problems, other health issues, the weather, high prices, and pretty much anything else you can think of. And I really mean anything.

In my sixteen or so years of listening to these customers, the subject of Presidential assassination never came up before.

“I’m surprised someone hasn’t killed him yet.”

These words were spoken to me, almost idly, by a 91-year-old woman while I was taking her footcare order. While I was taking a minute or two to set up account information for her, she rambled on about the elderly-care residence where she lived, which was apparently part of a good-sized chain of facilities in her state. I began getting her order set up, while she continued about how this chain had been planning expansions, but the bad economy stopped those plans. At this point she lowered her voice a trifle, saying, “That Obama has got to go.” She paused, then followed with, “I’m surprised someone hasn’t killed him yet.”

I was actually dumbstruck for a couple of moments. I could not have responded immediately, because whatever I said would NOT have come out politely. I took a deep breath and eventually replied lightly, “I’d love to discuss politics with you all day, but my bosses frown on that,” and finished up her order and the phone call.

…..What the?….

What in the world has become of the people in this country of ours, that the possible assassination of a sitting President is now deemed acceptable as idle ‘polite’ chit-chat with a stranger?

With all of the infinitely more nasty things that we see every day from fearmongering politicians and pundits, why do I find this incident so oddly disturbing?

Seriously, someone tell me, why?

This is our Open Thread. Please feel free to add your thoughts on this, or any other topic that comes to mind.


116 thoughts on “Watering Hole, Thursday, October 21st: Idle Chit-Chat

  1. Obama is black, America is a white country. How could it happen? I’m surprised someone who realizes what all of that really means hasn’t done the right thing both to get rid of him and as a warning that there are some things we white folks just won’t tolerate.

    Sick, I know, but there are a LOT of people out there who think like that, quite a number of them in my extended family I’m sad to say.

    America may be more than two centuries old, but she hasn’t grown up yet and is showing way to many signs that suggest she never will.

  2. The racist runs deep within our national veins.
    My Mom told me the story of why our Uncle H… was such a strident, outspoken racist.
    After the civil war, their family farm was given to black families by the Reconstructionists. His grandfather, quite elderly by the time Uncle H was in school, went blind, and Uncle H was pulled out of school to sit and read the bible to blind grandpa.
    Grandpa would rant for hours about the ni**ers this and the ni**ers that.
    Uncle H is also 92 years old this year. And still an outspoken bigot and racist.
    There’s still a lot of Uncle H’s out there.

    • When I was a kid, about 10 or 11, we visited my grandparents in Ohio. I don’t remember where we were going, but suddenly it became very important that all the car doors be locked, because we were “on the dark side of town.”

      I remember saying that the sunlight seemed the same as at their house, which brought all manner of hoots and laughter from the old people. My mom later explained what they meant.

  3. The recent public displays of racism are depressing but there is a darker current flowing. I think that might be what distresses you as it does me.

    Ever since Reagan the country has been slowly desensitized. The polarization of us versus them and them is ebil. To hear a 91 year old woman so casually refer to assassinating the President shows it is more pervasive than any had imagined.

    Them ain’t human and Us is right so it is perfectly ok to get rid of Them. We’ve been watching Us do it on tv and in the movies for decades now so what’s the big problem?

  4. “With all of the infinitely more nasty things that we see every day from fearmongering politicians and pundits, why do I find this incident so oddly disturbing?”

    Because you detected the sincerity, the raw hatred in her voice.

  5. The Republican party doesn’t have a ‘big tent’ – more like just a sheet, white….. with a matching pillow case.

  6. I grew up in as pasty white a neighborhood as you could ever wish. We actually had some kids of african-american descent at my high-school, but they kept to themselves and there was a LOT of tension.

    Finally, the first time I ever spoke to a black person was in the army, basic training. This fellow and I got into conversation more by accident than anything, and the subject was the mini-series “Roots.” The real eye-opener for me was that he was completely astounded that I did NOT care about my “roots.” (I pretty well understood why he cared about his.) But the fact that I was as much or more of a cipher to him as he was to me was totally unexpected and completely changed my understanding of racial issues.

    He wasn’t “scarey;” he was scared. And the weird thing was, he was a little scared of me.

    Since then, my listening skills have continued to improve.

  7. Great post Jane and thanks for sharing the story. It is shocking how dumbed down this country has become. Before the anti-government insanity started by Reagan we seem to be heading towards a better future. No if there were billboards telling people not to litter the right would be screaming that we are living in a nanny state. I’m trying to convince my husband that we should move to Canada when we retire.

  8. Hoodathunk, I was thinking much the same thing about desensitization. Formerly civilized people have become inured to all of the violent rhetoric and polarization going on today, which now has become the norm.

    Briseadh, actually there was no real emotion in the woman’s voice – it was more as if she was discussing the weather, like, “we’re supposed to be getting bad thunderstorms today.” It was so casual!

  9. I never interacted with any black people as a child in segregated Richmond VA, until I was bused to a traditionally black high school where I was one of a handful of white students. I found out the other students were no different from me, just people. Fear is a product of ignorance.
    I don’t think the hatred for Obama is entirely race based. Much of it comes from some carefully orchestrated fearmongering by those who want to retain their priveledged positions.

  10. BnF, you’re spot-on correct. The true horror of it all is the SINCERITY of their irrational hatred. Hatred drives them and their seeming goal is to force hatred to drive America. Sick and sad. But very real. And, if we believe the polls, getting closer to reality with every passing day.

  11. Good Morning all, a few lines on my fly over, before I hit todays jump.

    A distressing subject but well worth the post and addressing..

    I would of asked of the old woman why she felt that way..Since she made the statement right after saying there was no expansion in their facility I wonder if it was all racial…Sad, dreadful statement by her regardless of the reason but I would want to know..

    Our world is imploding and in many places much like a war zone minus the bombs…

    Many are blaming everything on Obama simply because he is in office and things have gotten worse these past 2 years…

    I’m of the mind set to put the blame where it belongs and would like to see all those responsible for the war madness to be brought up on charges…If I were in charge, bush/ cheney etal would be in some obscure jail some where never to be heard from again..But alas I am not in charge so the real bad guys get to run free..

    Sharon,”There is no justice, only points of law”.Gary Woodbury Nevada. 1983

    Am working at a feverious pitch to get outta here, with luck it is day’s away to blast off and no more contact with any net connections..

    Sending Peace, Blessings & Joy to you all.

    • Nice to see you, Great Lady. Positive thoughts and energy continue to go out to you, and hopefully a delayed winter. πŸ™‚

  12. I’m back from Wales. I didn’t get the WiFi running in my last B&B, so sorry for not checking in.

    This said: Jane, your story is so absolutely hair raising for me. Casually mentioning: “Why not kill the President?” and not thinking twice about how horrible this would, be is making me want to throw up. This old lady would have had an earful, if I was close by. I admire you for your restraint.

      • Zooey, relaxing, no. Nice yes. I will tell more about wonderful Wales and the really friendly people I’ve met. Hey I have left my bag, passports and money and all AGAIN in a pub. The bag was returned to me without anything missing. Lucky me. I could use a couple more brain cells but, alas, I have mistreated them badly by having too many Ales. Yummy. I read “The Return of the Native” on the plane, with listening to it as an audiobook at the same time (Alan Rickman reading **swoon**). I learned some more pronouncing difficult ancient English words. Of the British imho the Scots are the best cooks. Kate of Morgan’s Bed & Breakfast cooked a delightful supper for us on Tuesday. She’s a wonderful person, as is her husband Jeff.

  13. Jane, you handled that very professionally. I would venture to guess that slave owners spoke similar words about Abraham Lincoln. It is difficult for some people to accept a black man in their whites only White House. Think about it. Prior to President Obama, blacks in the White House were either servants or Cabinet members. Makes me wonder if the White House was painted white as a message.

  14. Thanks for the response Lady EV, Glad to have the support, much needed I might add..Blessings

  15. I believe that there is a tinge of racism in this woman’s comment. There are people that will say that “I’m not a racist. I know some black people and they are good people.” Yet, they make sure that they distinguish the difference between the “good” black people and the “bad” black people. They should say “good” people vs. “bad” people. The fact that they add race to statement shows an element of racism that they are not aware of. This behavior is more common in people past a certain age. My father, a true extrovert, would talk to anyone and he would tell me that he had a conversation with a “nice black man” while waiting in a doctor’s office. If this conversation occurred with a white man, he would never have mentioned the race. My father, rest his soul, would probably have made a statement similar to what this woman said. Yet, he would claim that he wasn’t a racist.

    BTW – my business is in a college town and I get the chance to speak with many students. So far, they all told me that they are going to vote. The pollsters claim that these young people won’t be voting this year. I’m getting a different feeling about that. The fact that they were successful in helping to elect a person to office that they supported may have encouraged these college students to continue to vote. Success the first time encourages future success.

  16. WitchyOne, I wish I could get out to see you before you leave, but it looks like I can’t make that happen.

    Happy Trails, and be safe!

  17. Not much talk of caging, suppression (except in Nevada), dirty tricks and voting machine crap-o-la….

    Hmm. ‘Lame stream’ media bought and paid-for again?

      • Well, I’m off to school for a couple hours, even though today’s class was canceled. Got to do my time advising freshman and sophomore Psych majors today.

        The advice I really want to give them is put your hat on straight, pull up your pants, tie your shoes, scrub off half your makeup, put the 5-inch spike heels back in your slutty sister’s closet, and put a coat over that skirt cuz it’s too damned short.

        Old and cranky ain’t for sissies, I tell ya…

  18. Thanks, Shayne.

    The Democrats are taking the lead in Pennsylvania. Sestak is ahead of Toomey and Onorado is tied with (the corrupt, take away freedom of speech, and sue the Government over health care reform) Corbett.

    This is giving me a good feeling.

    Witch – I wish you well. If you are heading East and need a rest stop with a comfy bed and good eats, you can always stop at my place.

  19. Thank you all for the much needed well wishes…

    Thanks Lady Cat’s but must pass, am driving my own mini house with bed and breakfast on the fly..Just hope to get on the go before bad weather hits all the passes I must go over…Off to buy chains and a few other needed things today..Happy posting all…Blessings

  20. witch1, during your travel – check to see if local libraries allow computer time/use – that way you can keep us apprised of your progress.

  21. Right about the time I turned fifty, I was vacationing in Hawaii. We were there with our two little girls, traveling with some friend and their daughter. We were staying on Oahu’s north shore in a rental house, so had plenty of time to sightsee, to play the tourist role. One day we set aside for Pearl Harbor — visited the Arizona Memorial there, among other things — followed by a visit to the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Punchbowl Crater. It was in the latter place that a bit of irony crossed my path, something that still impacts to this day. It’s close to two decades ago now that I wrote it in a poem.

    Reflection after fifty years

    John Francis was a soldier.
    2nd Lt., United States Marines.
    B. February 17, 1907.
    D. October 22, 1942.
    So reads the footstone which lies in shadow of marble pillars,
    National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific,

    Anno Domini,
    The year John Francis died
    Dawned in fateful aftermath of Date of Infamy
    And saw the world engulfed in war.
    Young men across the globe heeded call to arms
    Not knowing of their fate
    Though each and all feared the worst.
    As private prayers pursed their lips
    Battles raged In Europe, Asia, and across the Pacific –
    And everywhere, young men fell into the dark abyss
    Of deathly silence –
    ‘Last full measure of devotion’ now complete,
    Souls freed.

    John Francis went to war in 1942 –
    A Massachusetts Patriot
    Descended of those who gave up all to leave their homeland
    To seek a better life in a place far removed from what they knew –
    A place removed from war.
    But when the call to arms was issued
    He was ready
    To climb aboard a ship and sail
    Toward battles already raging.
    His duty, he knew, was to lead the fight –
    To keep the flame of free men alive atop the pyre
    Of human hope.
    He didn’t know his fate, of course.
    Such things are not written in advance for men to read.

    John Francis fought the valiant fight until that fateful day –
    October 22, 1942,
    Anno Domini.
    When then there came another call –
    This time from his God.

    John Francis died.

    John Francis was interred with honors due
    The fallen,
    Beneath the Emerald grass of Hawaii
    In a somber place – a place which makes the living beg
    The question and ask their God or gods –
    Fifty millions dead –

    I found myself staring at the foot-stone of John Francis.
    It was in an early row of graves, close to the ascending stairs.
    The marble columns and the Garden of the Missing
    Gleamed above the grass of the cemetery.
    I lingered there, humbled,
    Recalling things, histories,
    And ironies.

    For on the day John Francis died
    Another life began, a full half-world away –
    there was a birth, you see –
    And the newborn heard no gunshots as he took his first breath.
    Nor was he able to wonder if John Francis had heard the noise –
    The summons of his God –
    Which claimed his last

    John Francis shares a date with me –
    His final day upon this earth
    Was my first.
    And after fifty years had passed I promised him –
    As I stood in sunshine, free of war, alive
    Upon his grave –
    That I would not forget
    His sacrifice.

    John Francis

  22. Somehow I missed this angle of Angle’s latest gaffe:

    “I’ve been called the first Asian legislator in our Nevada State Assembly.”

    Sharron Angle to Asians: I’m you

  23. frugal, amazing what calls to us, moves us.
    For reasons not always known there is a draw to certain things that call us to act…
    thanks for sharing what drew you that day!

  24. ebb

    First, understand that Sharon is unbalanced. Her visit to a class of Hispanic students came on the heels of her ad that used the same stock photo that Vitter used. That photo was shown with narrative meant to scare people about the brown people.

    Rather that omit a mistake was made, a mistake she could have blamed on others (anyone can run an ad today) she relied on her own muddled thinking and decided to lie to the students about her inability to distinguish ethnic origins.

    It was bad enough to tell the students that some of them looked Asian, but then she said the men in her and Vitter’s ad reminded her of the problem we (Nevada? U.S.?) have with the Canadian border, indicating that Muslims use that border to infiltrate terrorists to come and … (pick you’re own fear).

  25. Somehow I missed this angle of Angle’s latest gaffe:

    β€œI’ve been called the first Asian legislator in our Nevada State Assembly.”

    Sharron Angle to Asians: I’m you

    Since Sharrrrrrron believe Asians and Mexicans look alike, does this mean she looks Mexcian?

  26. Frugal – very nice poem.

    Outstanding – I’ll never understand what makes people think that criminal behavior against an opponent would make someone vote for the opposite candidate.

  27. “Since Sharrrrrrron believe Asians and Mexicans look alike, does this mean she looks Mexcian?”

    Yes, by the transitive property of Angle’s delusional brain.

    Witch1, happy trails, try to stay in touch! Hope to see you when you arrive on our coast.

  28. “Outstanding – I’ll never understand what makes people think that criminal behavior against an opponent would make someone vote for the opposite candidate.”

    In my neck of the woods I suspect the hope is that people can be made afraid to be seen supporting a candidate.

  29. David Duke. Yuk.

    So. Amurka’s white. I guess next I have to figure out how to ‘splain that to my brother’s wife, to their three children, to my older daughter, to my younger daughter’s husband, and to the lady with whom I share my life (her great grandmother was full-blooded Cherokee — how goddamned unamerican can one get!).

    I wonder what it is that brings the basement floor of stupidity up to become, in cases such as David Duke, the ceiling of the bloody penthouse? All I can come up with is that he’s every bit as dumb as he sounds, as dumb as he looks. As are all who think like him. Make that “think” like him. What a loser.

  30. hooda,

    And Angle has always been publicly celebratory of her European heritage, even writing a self-published book, “Prairie Fire,” about her first ancestors in this country — German immigrants and, presumably, legal ones.

    The explanation Ralston later unearthed made things clearer, if not less weird. Apparently, an unknown reporter had once told Angle that she “looked Asian.” Which, by Angle’s logic, was enough to support her claims of being a racial pioneer.

  31. Jane,

    you wrote, “At this point she lowered her voice a trifle, saying, β€œThat Obama has got to go.” She paused, then followed with, β€œI’m surprised someone hasn’t killed him yet.” ”

    I stand by my original assessment. Your subconcious understood and reacted to those subtle changes.

  32. Oh Walt is that the iPhone world karaoke app? you log in and see a world and who is singing what where – you link in and then you join then in song….?

  33. ebb

    That was beautiful, thank you.


    I’ve had internet issues today also. I’m working off a DSL connection now, so far no problems.

  34. Thanks, EV, dycker, all. I still have a photo of the footstone. I probably stood over it for a half-hour that day, pondering things. Never did find out any particulars concerning Lt. John Francis Fogerty beyond what were on the marker, but decided it wasn’t the specifics, it was the irony of the two events that struck me.

  35. Fearing rout, Obama, Dems reach to female voters (AP)

    GOP lawmaker looks to increase scrutiny of Obama (AP)

    Top two news stories on my Yahoo news page. Sounds like someone is getting a tad nervous.

  36. I had brief conversation today with a small business owner and his 74 year old father. I endeavor to maintain a cordial relationship with them since their business and mine share a common wall. The two are staunch Glenn Beck fans with what I consider to be extreme views.

    The father shared that he had be raised Catholic, but when he was 16 he was saved, behind the Catholic church. I sensed he wanted me to ask him about that so he could enlighten me with the story of his conversion. Being me, I asked him “What was her name? The girl who saved you?”

    Now, to the reason of this post. On a TP thread today Zooey replied to the “The Ten Commandants were written in Egypt” poster that she would have to remember that, as an argument against those who don’t want foreign influence in our laws. In my conversation today, the son began talking about the need to “Teach a man to fish” as opposed to buying him fish dinners.

    Unfortunately, or maybe fortunately, phone calls ended our conversation. It was after the two had left and I was reviewing the double barrel barrage I had just survived that a tact to combat their “teach a man” is to agree wholeheartedly with their desire to ‘improve education.

    So that’s it my friends. I call upon you to give me feedback and discussion(s) to develop this tact.

  37. I think you’re doing well, pachydiplex.
    The best one can do is hold your own, don’t descend into emotional reaction to ridiculous diatribes, and be grateful for interruptions that preempt an endless downward spiral.
    And smile. Give them that cheerful smile with only the slightest hint of a smirk.
    Winking once in a while will further confound the simpletons.

  38. Behind the churches I went to were fields, orchards and vacant lots where I had far better experiences than I ever had within the confines of the pew.

    Outside was real, inside was fake.

    • Me too, Raven.

      In church and Sunday school, I always felt less than. Never ever good enough.

      Hell, I don’t need church for that. I’ve got my brain working overtime already.

    • Reason is come scary shit, Raven. It’s so much easier to let someone else tell you how to live and think…

      And they talk about “lazy liberals.” Ha!

  39. Walking In The Air was sung by Chloe Agnew on the Celtic Women Special on PBS. I didn’t know where it came from. Thanks Zooey.

      • I can see my new avatar. Can anyone else see it yet?

        Has anyone noticed that if you leave your cursor on an avatar, you can go to the gravatar profile? Cool!

        I put some snark on mine. Shocker!

    • Wow. Last time, it took a month for my new avatar to show up. πŸ˜€

      I was getting tired of the Modigliani-ed me — the chin was way too pointy. πŸ˜‰

  40. This is from The Snowman video.
    The song ‘Walking In The Air’ from the animated short ‘The Snowman’ by Raymond Briggs. It was written by Howard Blake and in this recording sung by Peter Auty.

    That version was apparently a young boy!

    You’re a butterfly now! If you could have found one on a red rose, you could have echoed your other avatar.

    • I saw ‘The Snowman’ when the men were little guys. The music must have stuck. πŸ™‚

      My youngest took the picture of my old pink rose. It’s the picture I use on facebook and one of my favorites.

  41. Jon Stewart is hosting the charity telethon event (on Comedy Central) for autism, and there’s a shitload of comedians and celebrities manning the phones (that part’s live–well, live HERE, you’ll get the whole thing taped later) and doing stand-up and other stuff taped in NYC.

    The Steves – Colbert and Carrell – did a song about Sully with backup dancers that did ‘The Sully’ Dance, even Jon joined in.

    Dave Letterman just showed up, people manning the phones include Tom Hanks, Captain ‘Sully’ Sullenberger, Larry David, Betty White, George Clooney, too many to remember and they switch out and get replaced by other stars.

    Here: http://www.comedycentral.com/shows/night_of_too_many_stars/index.jhtml?xrs=eml_tms

    • That is so great, Jane! On behalf of my eldest, who lives with autism, I thank the amazing and talented people on Comedy Central for doing that telethon.

      I guess I’ll have to call about 57 times until I get George Clooney on the line…

  42. Oh my, I’ve just lost my mojo for the night. I just received a phone call informing me of the death of my father’s only sister. She was in her 90’s.

    I really never liked her. You had to take your shoes off before you could go in her house. She was the last relative of that generation of my family.

    Add in the death of an older sibling earlier this year and I can’t help but realize that I’m on the down side of the curve of life.

    Well at least I’ll be dreaming of butterflies when I go.

    Goodnight all 😦

    • I’m so sorry, Pachy. Even when you don’t care for someone, it seems to bring mortality even closer.

      Sleep well, my dragonfly.

  43. Goodnight pachydiplax. I’m sorry for your recent losses, but I don’t know about that downward curve thing. Some people live safe, easy, unexamined lives, others pursue their passions relentlessly until death surprises them. Most of you folk here seem like the that second kind.
    Sleep well.

  44. You’re a kind lady Zooey. The only time I feel old is when I’m forced to see how little compassion exists in our world.

    • Ditto, Outstanding.

      I had hoped to leave a better world for my men, and so far I have failed. I still have hope, but it’s being severely tested.

  45. Ms. Maddow and Mr Steele? That’s so unbalanced a match up it’s just unfair.

  46. With all of the infinitely more nasty things that we see every day from fearmongering politicians and pundits, why do I find this incident so oddly disturbing?

    Because it IS disturbing. To vocally advocate for the slaying of our leader, whether you agree with them or not, is not normal. (And against the law.) You can say you want them impeached, removed from office, etc., but to willfully wish for their violent demise on this earth is abhorrent. As much as I disagreed with Reagan, Bush I or Bush II or Cheney, I never wished for their death at the hands of an assassin. They deserve the same right to gently pass on to the next plain as anyone. Let their “Maker” reserve the right to dole out their punishment.

  47. pachy, it’s no comfort but ‘we know neither the day nor the hour’. Sorry to hear of your loss.

    My eldest sib died at 45y another sib, one year my junior at 55y. Our Mother died at the early age of 62

    We’re beginning to think her off spring are not meant to live longer than she did…


    May the soft breeze of butterfly wings comfort and caress your sleep ~!~

  48. I may have felt it, but I’d prefer Bush 2 and Cheney to go through undignified old age like the rest of us, have everything they built be destroyed before their eyes and to have to have their arseholes wiped twice a day, preferably after they are left to lie in their own filth and drool for a few hours first. Perhaps a stroke where they have full consciousness and yet no motor control.

  49. Arctic report card – not a happy read.

    Return to previous Arctic conditions is unlikely

    Record temperatures across Canadian Arctic and Greenland, a reduced summer sea ice cover, record snow cover decreases and links to some Northern Hemisphere weather support this conclusion

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