There aren’t a lot of things more off-putting than whining about your circumstances. The average friend will tolerate approximately two “I-work-too-muchs,” three “my-back-hurts” and four “it’s-too-hots/it’s-too-colds.” Among lovers, that number climbs about 20 percent in the first three years, but declines dramatically after marriage.
Which is why it was so damn curious to suffer hundreds of dawdling, chanting whiners blocking five lanes of downtown traffic during the already foul-tempered morning commute. Those whiners turned out to be the Good Jobs Nation! union activists. That’s a group of “federal contractors” who do things like work fast food restaurants at D.C.’s Union Station and say “hi!” when you enter national parks.
And strike nine times a year for more money.
Whining to morning commuters, their chants and signs insist, is the new civil rights movement.
Did we understand, for example, that President Barack Obama just needs more extracongressional authority?
“We need a good job executive order.”
Did we even know that we can’t feed a family of four on an entry-level position that requires no skills or experience?
“$10.10 is not enough!”
Did we have the faintest clue how to earn a living in a free society?
“If we don’t get it, Shut! It! Down!”
Did we have any ideas how we’re going to get to work now while this whining whirlwind dervished in front of Union Station?
“No justice, no peace!”
“Maybe, maybe not,” but the blasting horns filling the air after 15 minutes of whining were less equivocal.
And when the police captain informed the marchers that there were in violation of D.C. Code 22-1307 (It is unlawful for a person, alone or in concert with others to be an asshat), many of the dedicated civil rights leaders came to a stunning conclusion.
“I take this [orange] vest off quick as a motherfucker,” one leader hollered. “I ain’t going in there [to jail]. I take this T-shirt off, too. I love you guys, but not that much!”
Everybody laughed except for a more-feminine version of The Dude, who was boldly standing as one of the liberal-arts-educated organizers of The Revolution. He wanted everyone to stay. They were so close to victory! Just 15 more minutes of gridlock — and two more warnings from The Man. Then — only then — can The Revolution move back to the sidewalk. A hold-fast,-men,-this-is-our-finest-hour sort of thing.
The honking continued. But the no justice no peace did too, hoarser and with increased urgency.
But as the third warning came, the police got their way, and the men, women and children of Good Jobs Nation! joined the onlookers on the sidewalk.
“Here they talked of revolution,
Here it was they lit the flame.
Here they sang about tomorrow
And tomorrow never came.”
We may have been late to work. We have been yelled at by our bosses. A few of the hundreds in buses and cars may have even been fired for their tardiness. So together, let us sing:
There’s relief that can’t be spoken.
Cars and buses can move on.
Empty streets unblocked by mobs.
Now my friends can do their jobs.
This verse is dedicated to the Paul Conner, who carried on with honor and integrity while I was late to work (this time, because of The Revolution).