Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Ya'll just made my day!

“Hey ya'll,” said my co-worker.

I paused for a second. I made sure to take in my surroundings-my messy desk, my black and gold coffee mug, my little laptop. I wanted to remember this moment and everything that was associated with it. I had just accomplished the greatest feat of my life....I had just succeeded in fusing southern dialect with Korean co-workers.

Over three years of being laughed at for saying “Ya'll.” Random moments when my accent would become more pronounced, (mostly when I was angry or tired, or so I was told). Multiple jobs, numerous co-workers, and finally the latest job with an office full of Koreans. English was their second language, but southern would be their dialect if there was anything I could do about it.

I didn't sweat the small stuff, I didn't correct them when they constructed their grammatically correct sentences in perfect English. No, my approach was deeper than that. By constantly saying “Ya'll” I'd eventually break down the proper English grammar they had only recently had drilled into their heads.

Today was that day. Today we had a breakthrough.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Whistle while you work

GRRRR.

The dogs creeped out from under the trailer. I stepped back slowly.

GRRRRRRRR.

I could see them clearly now. Two lean, medium sized black dobermans. I stepped back quickly. The dogs kept coming.

I quietly called out to my partner, not wanting to further aggravate the tightly wound beasts carefully making their way toward me. The dobermans were about 10 feet away by now and my back was almost to the car.

I quickly opened the passenger side door and slammed it shut. My partner slid into the seat next to me moments later. We looked at each other. I cursed loudly. This was to be our test. Our first neighborhood in the poorest county of a state that had been overwhelmed by a series of hurricanes.

Washed out dirt roads. Church preachers with crooked grins. Militias. A man who initially welcomed me with open arms... till he found out who I was working for. After being chased off his lawn my partner scribbled “uncooperative” in his report. We would learn to whistle when we approached a house/trailer. If something larger than a lapdog appeared we'd get right back in our car and drive off. We learned that staying off the properties that had “No Trespassing” or “Posted” signs was less about being courteous and more about not getting shot.

This was my test. A dose of reality for a recent idealistic college graduate who was desperate for work. At that time a few weeks doing contract relief work seemed better than serving BBQ to yuppie soccer moms and white collar execs who stiffed you on tips.

As I sat in thick Northern Virginia traffic today I cursed the world and pitied myself. And then I remembered relief work. HA!

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Chances

We don't get second chances too often. We make our choices, and we live with the consequences. When McCain first entered the primary race, I viewed it as a second chance-America's second chance to pick the candidate that they should have picked before the 2000 election. Instead some Republicans believed W's “compassionate conservative” bullshit and we got stuck with a war mongering, spend happy president.

At some point, myself and the rest of the potential voters got tired of the image that McCain was presenting. An anti-establishment candidate, who suddenly was not. A moderate who was cozying up to ultra-rightist. At the time, there seemed like better candidates out there. At the time, we believed he was done for.

The roller coaster ride that has been this year's primary season has proven us all wrong. McCain continues to cozy up to ultra-conservatives, and the far right continues to not believe him. As they should-McCain has consistently shown with his voting record that he actually stands for a responsible, moderate range of positions.

He supports a sensible border policy that focuses on border security and internal policies that realize economic necessities and the simple fact that it's impossible to expel every illegal immigrant from the country.

He supports tough foreign policy, yet fights against the barbaric use of torture as a “weapon.”

The McCain-Feingold act while not perfect, is the right step in fighting the excesses of K street. Believe me, I've seen the ugly head of lobbyist influence on American politics, and anything that can be done to curb their influence is a good thing. I know some honest Republicans who actually, seriously believe that it's a 1st amendment violation, but the majority dislike it because they feel that it hurts the Republicans ability to fund raise. When did the duty to fill the money chest override the duty to do the right thing?

McCain would try to have you believe now that he's a conservative candidate. He's not, and his voting record says otherwise. We have an opportunity to elect a candidate who's as two faced as any other politician, but in this current age where destructive policies enacted by W and his brood are damaging our image and interests worldwide, we have to suck it up and vote for the candidate who's actually going to enact responsible policies, current political rhetoric be damned.

I'm too jaded a political junky to call this a full on endorsement. As Obama supporters will find out soon enough, there's no knight in shining armor candidate. “Perfect candidate” is an oxymoron-I choose to look at this as a second (imperfect) chance.