It was busy breakfast time at Yankee Kitchen in Vienna, Ohio. It is always busy this time of day, but there were more cars in the parking lot than usual. Yankee Kitchen serves up a hearty breakfast and is locally famous for their omelets and hamburgers. It is the kind of place you can bring your screaming baby and not bother anyone. That is because the place has no sound deadener and will have sixty people all talking at once. The place is a favorite for seniors as it is cheaply priced and you leave with take home leftovers. With so many seniors retired from local steel plants and other industries there is a lot of deaf or “deef” (as my grandfather use to say) people talking very loudly scattered around the restaurant.
It was Wednesday, the day after primary elections in Ohio. That made for even louder more heated conversations than usual. Donald Trump had just visited the area the day before elections. He had been at Youngstown Airport, located one mile down the road from Yankee Kitchen. He landed and had his sad sack lap dog, Chris Christy introduce him. Trump told Christy to heel and then kept saying how much he loved Ohio. Trump never mentioned Vienna or Youngstown at all. He flew in and out so fast I’m sure he had no idea where he was in Ohio. Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton had also made recent appearances in the nearby Youngstown area.
One of the regular senior citizens, Ralph was sitting at the counter bashing the current president. He said, “Obama is bringing in millions of “Mooooslims” to build an army of Islamic terrorists to take over our country. Then they will set him up as Ayatollah and stop the election.” Bob, another regular eating his cheese omelet almost choked on a bite. He noted, “Ralph you are crazier today than usual. It must be because of elections yesterday. I suppose you voted for Trump?” Ralph shot back, “Damn right I did and the smart people of Ohio made him the winner. He’s the only one who can stop those terrorists from coming to cut off our heads.” At this point Karen the waitress who was always driven up the wall by Ralph’s misogynist comments had to speak up. She was not afraid to confront him as he had never left her more than a two-cent tip. She knew that tip was a comment about not giving two cents about what she had to say. She loudly said, “Ralph, you won’t have anything to worry about when those terrorists come for your head.’” Ralph interrupted, “Damn right that is because I have a house full of guns and a concealed carry.” Then Karen said, “No Ralph they can’t cut your head off, as they couldn’t find it, because your head has been up your ass for years.” That was followed by laughter from almost everyone in earshot.
A young couple with two kids quickly gathered them up without finishing their meal. They asked Karen for their bill and put down a tip. Karen felt bad and said, “I’m sorry for the language today folks.” The man whispered to her, “It isn’t you at all, it is the fact that a nut job like that guy has a gun on his belt.” “I tend to agree” said Karen. She continued, “Old Ralph should have been fitted for a straight jacket, not a gun belt. I’d say he is harmless except I’ve seen him get into a lot of fights down at the Ale House when he has had a couple too many.”
Ralph’s buddy Frank just arrived reeking of cheap cigars. Ralph had saved a seat at the counter for him and Lucy, Frank’s second wife. Ralph and Frank were all giggles like a couple of school boys. That is because their man Trump had won in Ohio. They were both convinced that Trump would be good for the economy and jobs as he knew how to conduct a successful business. Last week Karen had heard them going on about Trump’s business skills. She had pointed out that he had filed bankruptcy six times. On another occasion Trump’s dad had to buy five million dollars of chips to save Donald’s casino. As for jobs, Karen pointed out that “the Donald” has his clothing line made in China. She mentioned how Trump said he can have the clothes made here as soon as U.S. workers decide to accept competing Chinese wages. Ralph and Frank blew her off as they didn’t respect the views of women, let alone a waitress.
Tom a science teacher who stopped for breakfast was at the counter next to Ralph, Frank and Lucy. He had been staring straight ahead at the giant mound of hash browns turning a lovely brown. He still hadn’t gotten his eggs and hash browns yet. That was because the cook on the grill was arguing politics with the regulars at the counter. Tom needed to eat fast and get to work. He didn’t have all day to talk politics like these retired regulars did. Tom had gotten into political discussions with the regulars at the counter before. He would even get on the internet on his phone to show them facts or figures to prove his point. These old timers weren’t interested as they had formed their opinions and by damn they were sticking to them. Tom had gotten tired of their constant talk, bashing poor people and bitching about entitlements. These guys love the candidates who promise to help fellow Americans the least. They vote against social programs, that might help their children and grandchildren, as long as someone they think doesn’t deserve it gets no help. And yet, Tom had never met a grandparent who wouldn’t give their life, if necessary, for their kids and grand kids. These old timers of course want their Social Security, Medicare, Veterans care etc. They just don’t want to pay for those programs for the next generation. Tom calls them me, not we voters. He would rather not have to put up with them but he still comes in a few mornings a week as they have the best omelets around.
The last empty seat at the counter is now filled by Steven a pharmacists. Steven is very well off and always votes Republican. That is because the GOP doesn’t believe in taxing the wealthy and they are tough on crime. He also believes the rich are fundamentally better people than someone poor. Last year he personally proved that the rich are not morally superior to the poor. In an attempt to become even wealthier he got involved with a drug dealer he met at the country club. Steven started supplying him hundreds of prescriptions for Oxycontin. Steven and the drug dealer were caught and faced 25 years in jail. Steven had the money to hire the best lawyer in the valley. At the trial Steven threw himself on the mercy of the judge. He stated he had a special needs child and a senile mother he was caring for. Steven is lucky that the prosecutor did not put Steven’s wife or his brother on the stand. The brother under oath would have testified that he, not Steven takes care of all of their mother’s nursing home and medical bills. He could have also stated that Steven hasn’t visited their mother in over two years. Steven’s wife would have said that he plays golf every second he can and never lifts a finger to help their special needs daughter, Alice. As it turns out Steven got a liberal judge with a heart that looked at Alice and gave Steven probation. None of that has registered with Steven who still hasn’t visited his mother or helped with his daughter. Steven voted for Cruz because he seems like a tough on crime kind of guy.
In the booth nearest the counter sat senior citizens, Ernie and his wife, Beth. Ernie was wearing a portable oxygen tank and breathing from it very deeply. He pulled the tube from his mouth and yelled something so loud that everyone in the noisy restaurant heard him. He screamed, “Barack Hussein Obama thinks he is the messiah but he is the antichrist. He is taking all of our freedoms away.” Their young waitress, Linda winked at Karen and said “Let me handle this one.” She then stared at Ernie and demanded, “Name one freedom you have lost under President Obama.” Ernie was stumped and couldn’t say a word. Beth then said, “Forgive Ernie he has dementia and just spews out hateful lies he has heard on talk radio or FOX NEWS. He believes any lie that Rush or Michael Savage spews.” Linda responded with, “Rush is a drug addict and who would believe anything a man named, Savage said?” Beth replied, “Savage’s real name is, Weiner and who’d believe anything someone named, Weiner said?” Linda felt bad picked up their check and whispered, “Today’s breakfast is on me.”
When they left, Beth helped Ernie get in the passenger seat and hooked up another tank of oxygen. As soon as she started the car, Ernie realized it was time for Rush Limbaugh and tuned him in on the car’s radio. Today, Rush was spewing hate for environmentalist and denying global warming. Many of the polluting corporations that deny climate change are Rush’s sponsors. Guys like Ernie just haven’t figured that out yet. Ernie blurted out, “Fucking commie tree huggers.” Since Ernie got dementia two years ago, Beth finally got to pick out what kind of car they would buy last year. She was driving a Hybrid Toyota Prius, by damn. Ernie had no idea he was riding in a tree hugging commie car. As a matter of fact Ernie was always commenting on how comfortable his passenger seat was. Beth hadn’t bothered to tell Ernie that Tuesday was Election Day. When she went to vote she had him wait in the car. This year she wouldn’t have to use her vote for Democrats to cancel out Ernie’s Republican votes. She got a big chuckle thinking that Ernie didn’t know she had voted for Hillary.
The rest of the breakfast bunch now headed to their cars. Some are on their way to work for the day. The retired seniors are on their way to the barber shop, the doctor’s office or to Wal-Mart. When they arrive at their next destination they will once again pontificate to anyone who will listen. If you take the time to hear them, you will wonder why many of them vote against their own self-interests.
Back at Yankee Kitchen the two young busboys are explaining to their older fellow workers that they like the changes that Bernie Sanders is fighting for. Karen wondered if the breakfast regulars could ever even begin to accept something new and different, even for their own good. A wide smile came to her face and she got a gentle pain of hope, when she found that Ralph had left her a five dollar tip.
Let’s here how our young people feel about the state of our country and planet: https://soundcloud.com/coldpizzaparty/nobody-knows-what-theyre-talking-about-no-one-knows-where-were-going
The Whistleblowers: “Dissatisfaction Suite”
“Democracy is not just the right to vote, it is the right to live in dignity.” ~ Naomi Klein