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elizabeth anne Profile
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Re: The Waffle House and America


Will be patient then.

--Liz
Jun/22/2011, 9:27 pm Link to this post Send Email to elizabeth anne   Send PM to elizabeth anne Blog
 
Terreson Profile
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Started in on this post last night, Saturday, immediately coming home from The Waffle House. Took a phone call from a friend and afterwards decided to wait until today.

Dynamics seem to be changing there. A new boss (manager-owner?) I think and two new servers. I should state that the business is a franchise, not corporately owned. Always a circumstance that can make life difficult for a worker. Franchise owners can be sons a bitches. Speaking from experience here.

Not sure I have stated explicitly that both my favorite server and favorite short order cook are African-American. Until last night the info didn't seem important. My goodness but they take good care of me. And I swear on my mother's beautiful auburn hair I get served the best, fluffiest, goodies rich omelet. Tomatoes, ham, and onions. And when I first come in invariably a fresh pot of coffee gets made.

I arrived soon after 8 PM. My favorite server was exhausted. She had worked the morning shift. She was working the evening shift. And she was scheduled to work the late night shift. She said "he", the boss, was working her 50 to 60 hours a week. No overtime pay, this in the year of some Republican's Lord, 2011. She said sometimes, when she drives home, she is so tired she cannot feel her foot on the accelerator. She is either in her twenties or thirties, so she is still young and strong. I remember once, when about her age and working off-shore on an oil rig, working a regular 13 hour shift, then through the night and into the morning. I worked for 22 hours, got 3 hours of sleep, then worked the next regular shift. I remember falling asleep, just nodding off, while standing on the deck. I get the kind of exhaustion my server complained about. Of course, it is cheaper for management to work its employees more rather than hire additional workers. I figure that is what is happening to my server. And what can she do about it? Nothing. An exquisite amount of nothing. According to the reports it is a circumstance found through out all of America. Workers working longer hours to maintain production and keep labor costs down.

There were two new servers last night. Either Chinese or Chinese-American. On the strength of their command of English I'll go with the latter. The tension between my favorite server and the two new girls, they were quite young, was as sharp and pointed as a blade. Actually, the girls were almost docile and retiring. Probably just trying to fit in on the scene. But my server was harsh with them, finding fault with practically every move they made. I also noticed other customers, men, taking to the new girls, going conversational with them. And smiling. Smiley faces.

So it gets played out as it has always gotten played out in America's labor history. One under-privileged, or outside group or race or class, pitted against another. Another means for keeping labor costs down. All the while my favorite short order cook doing what she always does: keeping quiet, self-contained, working her grill.

My server complained constantly about "him", the boss. "He" this and "He" that. Poor woman. So bloody tired. Then the back door opened and in walked a man maybe in his thirties. Server goes quiet, looks down to her work behind the counter. I am sitting close to the register which is where he takes up his position while looking over the diner. With his back turned to me I catch my server's eye. More with my face than with my voice I ask: is that him? She nods yes and goes back to her tasks.

Being a proprietor and front man he is all smiles. He looks to engage me, just another paying customer. I'm pleasant. I compliment my favorite short order cook. I tell him she is very good. I should have told him I come in on a Saturday night for her omelets. I can't remember exactly what he said but it was belittling of my favorite short order cook, his employee. Maybe he said: she'll do for now. I think that is it. Involuntarily I go sharp in the eyes, back stiffens. I say: I said she is very good. The man is smart enough to register my body language. He agrees with me and smiles. A smile entirely too smarmy for my taste.

Usually I take in the latest issue of The New York Review of Books. But I didn't have a copy last night. Earlier in the day our Libra put me in mind of Baudelaire and his prose poetry. Great title for his collection: Paris Spleen. Perfect title. So I take my copy to The Waffle House. The man then asks me about Baudelaire. The book is on the counter next to my plate. I tell him he was a French poet of the 19th C. I figure there is no point in telling him Baudelaire is considered the first Modern poet or why. Then the man says something absolutely stupid. He says you can figure out any word in any language by translating it to Spanish. Now my dislike of him is complete. And I figure my first impression of him was right. His complexion and jet black hair had suggested to me he is Hispanic or Hispanic-American.

Does the moment come through, dovetail for my reader? One exhausted African-American woman. Two Chinese-American girls, maybe they are students, trying to get by, having to contend with an unfriendly fellow employee who is probably suspicious of being displaced. And one Hispanic-American boss whose management style includes denigrating the staff. A style I know all too well and despise. What a scene. I could not have made this up. The working poor in America and not an Anglo player to be found. Except perhaps behind the scene. In some corporate office maybe in Atlanta. Home town to The Waffle House.

It happened, completely by chance, that before the man engaged me I had opened Baudelaire's book, somewhere in the middle. I read the particular prose poem mostly because it was short, a page and a half long. Not sure I even registered the title at first. It is called The Eyes of the Poor. It involves a chance meeting between a bourgeoise couple and poor people. The man is struck by the countenance of these poor people. He watches them attentively. He notices how the old man, with his eyes especially, tries to convey to his charges, two young children, how beautiful is the evening. The bourgeoise man's wife or lover, however, finds the sight of the poor annoying. The scene takes place while the couple sit on a bench in front of a new and dazzlelingly lit cafe on the boulevard. The woman finally says to her lover: "Those people are insufferable with their great saucer eyes. Can't you tell the proprietor to send them away?" Prose poem's last paragraph:

"So you see how difficult it is to understand one another, my dear angel, how incommunicable thought is, even between two people in love."

Spleen indeed.

Damn but I love the internet. Here is a link to the prose poem:

http://aplaceforpeace.wordpress.com/2009/09/12/the-eyes-of-the-poor-by-charles-baudelaire/

Tere

(I hope this is not actually necessary to say. My field note is not concerned with race or ethnicity. This except to the extent that racial groups are subject to a very institutionalized racism, in all cases worldwide. In my town of 500,000 souls, for example, 49% of the population is African-American, 24% of whom live below the poverty line. This I mark as institutionalized racism. Rather, my field note has to do with the working poor of all racial and ethnic groups. Migrant farm workers in America, most of whom are Hispanic. Women in China who make plastic beads for the New Orleans Mardi Gras celebrations and whose working conditions are characterized as amounting to slave labor. And a growing white population in America clearly having slipped back into the class of the working poor. That is what incites my field note. The Waffle House is my chosen setting for reasons given about 9 months ago. But I am a playwright completely without control over who populates his stage.

I am convinced that the whole system, the whole, global economic apparatus that sustains us all depends upon the working poor, is dependent more on keeping the working poor working and poor. I blame the wealthy, industrialists, capitalists, money managers, investors, the elected, lobbyists, and stock holders. Above all I blame the consumer who frequents a Wallmart, many of whom are the working poor, and so the circle becomes viscious. I myself go there as infrequently as possible, usually opting for higher priced goods. But I was there last Friday to buy a vacuum cleaner. Please take my notes in this spirit. I am as compromised as every one of my readers are. The Waffle House is only a sand grain, the oyster's irritant, where my muses ground me.)

Last edited by Terreson, Jul/18/2011, 12:03 am
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elizabeth anne Profile
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Re: The Waffle House and America


Terefriend,

I have a dearest friend, whom I may or may not have mentioned, fiercely brave enough to tell high mighty doctors from a sacred tower known all over the world, that no, they could not slice away her breast, and no, she would not let them poison her with radiation and with "chemotherapy" just because, in their opinion, she had best 6 months to live with all of this. That was 2 years ago.

Anyway, whenever she is at my house and I've left a book out, she will say "So, [name of author], what do you have to say to me today?" and open the book by holding the cover down away from her, pages fanning out. Whatever pages open to her she reads.

I believe the Universe meant for you to read those specific pages of Baudelaire last night. Just as you were meant to read Libra's work to inspire you to read his.

Thank you always for these posts. I look forward to them an unlikely balm on my soul.

Liz
Jul/17/2011, 6:42 pm Link to this post Send Email to elizabeth anne   Send PM to elizabeth anne Blog
 
Terreson Profile
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Re: The Waffle House and America


Thanks back at you, Liz. And for the story.

Tere
Jul/17/2011, 7:01 pm Link to this post Send Email to Terreson   Send PM to Terreson
 
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I had a different plan for tonight's Waffle House entry. Again reading Baudelaire, a great conversation with my favorite short order cook involving her four children and a grandmother looking to profit from said children, getting the two Chinese Americans to loosen up, encouraging them to answer the phone and operate the cash register. But I am stunned.

Stepping out the door, my favorite waitress was sitting in her car, again having worked a double shift and needing a moment's rest. She got out of her car and we had a parking lot conversation in a light rainfall. I learned that this particular Waffle House franchise pays its servers an hourly wage of $2.13.

http://www.dol.gov/elaws/faq/esa/flsa/001.htm

Seven dollars and twenty-five cents is this year's minimum wage. But the Waffle House legally gets away with paying their servers $2.13 an hour. Of course servers earn tips. My favorite server said tonight she earns as much as $150 a week in tips. Keep in mind she is working a double shift five days a week. $2.13 x 80 = $170.40. Plus $150 = $320.40. Divide by 80 hours and you get $4.01 an hour.

This is what I mean when pointing to the working poor. $4 an hour earned by a single parent with four children.

Tere

Last edited by Terreson, Jul/23/2011, 9:46 pm
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Re: The Waffle House and America


Speaks to my theme.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=If_1T4Os270&feature=share

Tere
Jul/28/2011, 10:42 pm Link to this post Send Email to Terreson   Send PM to Terreson
 
elizabeth anne Profile
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Re: The Waffle House and America


Thanks for that, Tere. I liked the guy who responded "Can't we just clone this guy 99 times?

Liz
Jul/29/2011, 12:47 pm Link to this post Send Email to elizabeth anne   Send PM to elizabeth anne Blog
 
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Listening to the utter madness of the House members discussing the demise of this country they have been given stewardship of (????); reading your sad commentary on working poor lives, poor lives ground down to fine dust beneath the well-shod feet of their "betters"; I have been musing along the moldering allies of desolation that "social darwinist" "christians" who think they are in charge must believe it best that the masses who take up too much room and resource for their liking would be better left to rot and die, to leave all the best, all the real estate and wealth for them and their chosen servants.
Jul/29/2011, 2:32 pm Link to this post Send Email to libramoon   Send PM to libramoon Blog
 
Terreson Profile
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Libra, your comment goes to the subtext of my thread. That is precisely how I see present madness in control of our country too. Precisely why I keep with my Waffle House muses. They may be ghetoized. But unlike tea baggers and other social darwinists, as you put it, they are beautiful because they are heroic in a personal struggle.

Tere
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Re: The Waffle House and America


Gospel

Sally, won't you go
downtown
Pick up some teabag party
clowns
We'll teach 'em tricks of trade
from streets walled in by
degradation
Ain't this nation grand
for glad hands raised in celebration
of shames we dare not name.

Hallelujah Hallelucinations
Hallowed ground baptized
in blood
Saved from the cleansing Flood
by sticking to our kind
however we're defining us today
If we were meant to live
a different way
wouldn't He have told us?

October 28, 2009
Jul/29/2011, 8:04 pm Link to this post Send Email to libramoon   Send PM to libramoon Blog
 
Terreson Profile
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Re: The Waffle House and America


Mona, my favorite Waffle House waitress, says yes.

Tere
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Arranged to take the day off from work, a Monday, to post a new, substantial installment in the Open Faces novel thread. Late last night, however, the first cold symptoms came on, the ones you always try to talk yourself out of. Neither the energy or clarity at hand for an installment. But I got to make something of the day. Sometimes I think writers are like sharks who have to stay on the move in order to breathe. A Waffle House note I can handle.

Maybe I was already feeling the cold symptoms 'cause I suddenly wanted comfort food. Normal routine is to visit the Waffle House on a Saturday night, but last night was a Sunday. I absolutely lucked out. Terrie, my short order muse, was on duty. Omelet got prepared to perfection. A few days ago I mentioned to Alki about Charles Baudelaire and his prose poetry Paris Spleen I had my copy with me. The same paperback copy I purchased in maybe '72 or '73. The perfect reading for last night's environment. How he despised the bourgeoisie, its false values, its commercialization, in fact, of value. The same face put in place to keep the working poor down. And still working for them. I didn't get much reading done.

At the counter were four black men. Two to my left and two to my right. All were Nam vets, making them age mates. Mostly they were talking through memories. Places visited, trips made, the better, more exotic sights seen. It was immediately clear they are proud of their service. Proud even of their youth, which is not something I am sure I can say of my youth, at least some of it. They had been given a job back then and they had acquitted themselves. They had behaved honorably. It was in their faces,in their straight backs, in their posture as much as it was in their words. Black soldiers just like the Buffalo soldiers of the late 19th C. in the West fighting Indians and, in a case in Idaho, keeping civil order in a mining town torn apart by labor unrest and the fight between miners and owners. They belong to a tradition of men behaving honorably in an unfriendly order of things. Then something happened.

Terrie instigated it. She must know the men who, much older than she is, sure respond to her presence. Suddenly they are all talking economics, nothing in particular and everything in particular. Social security's chancy future, pensions in jeapordy, single mothers, hoping to keep off the streets and out of Salvation Army houses, social services at risk. The talk is non-stop and simultaneous. And in front of them, behind the counter, there is Terrie standing and lecturing them. She stands like Bertol Brecht's Pirate Jenny standing on the deck of her black freighter. Finally I get the courage to speak up. I say something to the effect of no matter what we do, say or think, the rich will always be in place to keeep us in ours. One man says that's right. But mostly they ignore me and get back into the swing of their conversation.

There is something I don't understand about policy makers, pundits, governors, bankers, the whole plutocractic class in control of things. I am convinced they think poor people and the working poor are stupid. That they don't see what is happening economically through out the country. That they don't think about it all. That they don't talk and argue about it all. That they don't question policy. That they are unaware. For all the governors I would swear the poor and the working poor are invisible. Numbers only or, at best, percentages. Not thinking, dreaming, doing, making people. They need to come with me to the Waffle House, meet my Pirate Jenny, listen to the old man as old as me, and, above all, they need to bring the rest of us into the conversation.

I must have been feeling brave last night. Maybe I'll blame it on the cold symptoms. Terrie asked if my omelet was good. I said it was her best yet. She smiled. Then I asked her what are her days off, quickly adding I wasn't getting fresh. She said Tuesday and Wednesday. And she smiled again. That is two smiles from my Waffle House muse in the space of a few minutes.

When I paid and was stepping away from the counter one of the men, a stranger, told me to have a good night. Connection.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TCcKBc4gwAQ&feature=share

Tere

Last edited by Terreson, Aug/29/2011, 5:14 pm
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Katlin Profile
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Re: The Waffle House and America


Tere,

I have been reading back through this thread as I haven't commented in a while.

I was struck by something Libra wrote:

Listening to the utter madness of the House members discussing the demise of this country they have been given stewardship of (????); reading your sad commentary on working poor lives, poor lives ground down to fine dust beneath the well-shod feet of their "betters"; I have been musing along the moldering allies of desolation that "social darwinist" "christians" who think they are in charge must believe it best that the masses who take up too much room and resource for their liking would be better left to rot and die, to leave all the best, all the real estate and wealth for them and their chosen servants.

and by her poem "Gospel." Then by something you wrote:

Suddenly they are all talking economics, nothing in particular and everything in particular. Social security's chancy future, pensions in jeapordy, single mothers, hoping to keep off the streets and out of Salvation Army houses, social services at risk. The talk is non-stop and simultaneous. And in front of them, behind the counter, there is Terrie standing and lecturing them. She stands like Bertol Brecht's Pirate Jenny standing on the deck of her black freighter. Finally I get the courage to speak up. I say something to the effect of no matter what we do, say or think, the rich will always be in place to keeep us in ours. One man says that's right. But mostly they ignore me and get back into the swing of their conversation.

There is something I don't understand about policy makers, pundits, governors, bankers, the whole plutocractic class in control of things. I am convinced they think poor people and the working poor are stupid. That they don't see what is happening economically through out the country. That they don't think about it all. That they don't talk and argue about it all. That they don't question policy. That they are unaware. For all the governors I would swear the poor and the working poor are invisible. Numbers only or, at best, percentages. Not thinking, dreaming, doing, making people. They need to come with me to the Waffle House, meet my Pirate Jenny, listen to the old man as old as me, and, above all, they need to bring the rest of us into the conversation.


The irony, which I heard someone point out last week on a political talk show, is that many Tea Party members are themselves on some kind of government assistance: Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, food stamps, etc. I am reminded of the reaction of many poor whites in the South during the Civil War. They feared that the abolishment of slavery would mean that freed blacks would take their jobs and they'd end up being worse off than they were, would end up being the lowest man on the totem pole, so to speak. I think the same kind of mentality is in operation today. Tea Partiers want to cut government spending to those worse off than themselves rather than raise taxes on the wealthy. Why they don't think spending cuts will affect them too is beyond me. Do they really think the billionaires who are bankrolling the movement from behind the scenes give a damn about them? Do they think that the budget cutting politicians are going to make exemptions for them?

I also heard someone say that Republicans keep accusing Democrats of trying to start class warfare while the Republicans are already waging it.
Aug/29/2011, 8:06 pm Link to this post Send Email to Katlin   Send PM to Katlin
 
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Found it. This was pointed out to me on FB. Class warfare? I keep to the lyrical in my Waffle House reports. Make no mistake about it, however. Class warfare has been declared on my muses. And on my people.

http://www.thedailyshow.com/watch/thu-august-18-2011/world-of-class-warfare---the-poor-s-free-ride-is-over

Tere

Last edited by Terreson, Aug/29/2011, 9:03 pm
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Re: The Waffle House and America


Libramoon sent along an article she found on the Waffle House. Seems FEMA and I have something in common. We both view the Waffle House as an index reading of disaster. Thanks, Libra.

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424053111904716604576542460736605364.html?mod=e2fb

Tere
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I for one, intend to boycott Amazon for the rest of my life:

http://www.mcall.com/news/local/mc-allentown-amazon-complaints-20110917,0,7937001,full.story
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I cannot believe what I just read. Sure, I know heat stress. It comes with working in bee yards in Louisiana. It is expected and we take rightful measures when one of our people go down to it. But this? So every Amazon purchase comes with a spoonful of bad karma. A former Secretary of Labor said it best: you cannot be both a good consumer and a good citizen. I am linking this to FB. Thank you.

Tere
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Good idea, Tere. Spread the word.

Chris
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Also speaks to the theme.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7D5LUq7lEjk

Tere

Last edited by Terreson, Sep/23/2011, 10:07 pm
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Yeah, sure, getting rid of labor unions and eliminating "regulations" that are "preventing businesses from hiring" will solve all our un/employment problems in this country. It's like that new bumper sticker says: Repeal the Twentieth Century. Vote Republican.
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The day Chris got fired.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w_e2Ediazks&feature=related

And check this out

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CdnyVrTwqoo&feature=related


What can I say except The Waffle House and America

Tere

Last edited by Terreson, Sep/24/2011, 12:39 pm
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http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8eNPAH46oI8&feature=related

Tere
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This installment will stretch my thesis a little. But only a little. The thread looks at things through the eyes of the late Joe Bageant. He argued, I think rightly, that America's working class has been replaced by a new class of workers he called the working poor. He also argued, again I think rightly, that the working poor have been abandoned by the liberal, left leaning side of the political spectrum. So far my focal point has centered on people I've met at the Waffle House, special interest given to its workers, its servers and cooks, most of whom work for $2.19 an hour plus tips. The working poor. Now for the stretch.

Last week was spent working in bee yards in eastern Montana. On the north side of the Missouri River, the river Lewis and Clark's Corps of Discovery travelled, hoping to find a northwest water highway connecting the east to the Pacific Ocean. Landscape could not be more stark. To the north and to the south of the river brown is the dominant color. Semi-arid, terraine rolling, no trees. The river's corridor, maybe a mile wide, is tree populated. The water loving cottonwood dominates. Willow trees as well.

To get to Wolf Point, the town out of which we worked and county seat to Roosevelt County, our crew of six flew to Houston, then to Denver, then to the closest town with an airport supporting commercial flight, Williston N.D., 73 miles to the east. The last leg flown by a regional carrier, the Great Lakes airline. Plane a turbo prop with a seating capacity for 30 or 33 passengers. There we rented two vehicles and drove the rest of the way. By the time we reached our destination we were tenuously still on the grid.

The bee yards in which we worked, there were six, are by foraging neccessity within the Missouri River's corridor. Five on the north side, one to the south. But that is not my focus, except maybe to say I discovered my 60 year old back can still pull honey supers from colonies and weighing as much as 90 lbs. My focus is the stark contrast between two towns, Wolf Point and Williston.

The town of Wolf Point has a population of less than 1,000 people. Roosevelt county, a Montana sized county, is home to the Fort Peck tribal nations, Sioux and Assiniboine. All of the county lies within tribal boundaries, plus portions of the two adjoining counties, east and west. In size the reservation is over 3,000 sqr miles. The county is 53% Native American. The town itself has no extended development that has come to characterize most American towns, even smaller ones. No Wallmart on city's edge. Downtown is it. I saw only one supermarket, an Albertson's. I could not believe how busy it was with customers, even at 10 PM. On the other hand, it seemed like every third storefront was a liquor and beer store. An exaggeration but not by much. Of course, conveneience/gas pump stores sold beer as well. One morning around 8 I saw a young man, Native American, buying beer in one such store. Not a six pack but a case. Drinking in Wolf Point is a way of life. The internet tells me that over a third of the county's population lives below the poverty line. At least one local white person told me the Indians do not want to work, don't have to work, since, everything from food to education is free. The Indian Welfare State. And yet I saw Native Americans cleaning my motel room, serving me in cafes, on the highway driving 18 wheelers, working manual labor. Still, however, the town's parks were populated mid-day by Native Americans. I was reminded of what I see here, in the deep south, when driving through a black neighborhood. Strong young men at home, sitting on the porch or walking the sidewalk, during regular work hours. The tell tale sign, the unmistakable economic indicator of poverty.

Something else struck me, another indicator perhaps. It was the obesity of the majority of the people I encountered. They were not overweight. They were huge. So much so that the sight of them, in spite of the fact my body was craving protein every day, robbed me of an apetite. My habit is to have one full meal a day. It did not happen in Wolf Point. A plate of food in front of me damn near turned my stomach. In other countries I guess poverty shows itself in starvation. Not in America. Here the sure sign is obesity, starch and processed food driven. And the lack of occupation.

Wolf Point is a sad looking town, less than a sqr mile in size. Maybe at one time it thrived, judging from the store fronts. But that would have been decades ago. Now it has fallen in on itself and poverty is a way of life, to some extent welfare state driven. The only two major industries I could note would be county government and agriculture. But dry farming, while possible, is at best chancey, seasonally short lived. I think I saw signs of industrial size, agri-business. But agri-business is all but wholly mechanized, employing relatively few people. So what I saw is America's hidden poor and working class poor. More effectively hidden since out in the open. Right there on U.S. Highway 2.

Now for the contrast. Williston, N.D. We would spend a full day there. Our return flight was scheduled for 8:10 AM, Friday. But the plane was broken. Some sort of electrical problem. And in Williston there are no commercial planes parked, hanging about. Nor are there other carriers. Just the Great Lakes airline. The airline did the best it could to accomodate us, pluck us out of there. This meant sending up a reserve plane from Denver, just for the six of us. It and its crew of two arrived around 6:30 PM. We were in the air by 7. For the day we re-rented the suburban we had turned in in the AM. Aside from needing to find places to eat we also needed to purchase dry ice for the bee samples we were bringing back for testing. The Avis lady was very good to us. So were the airport personnel for that matter. Even the TSA agents were friendly, conversational and nice to us. The dry ice we finally found at the local Coka Cola distrubution center.

Driving around Williston and sitting in the airport. Williston is a boom town. A year ago its population was 15,000 souls. Now its population has doubled, 30,000 souls. I've seen boom towns before and I've read the many stories of such towns in America. First the resource discovery. Then the economic boom. Then the resource depletion. Then the bust. In Williston's case the resource is oil in shale now available for extraction through hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling. Two relatively new technological advancements.

Everywhere there were men, not many women, who were bound to work the oil fields either directly or indirectly through some subcontractor serving the fields in one capacity or another. Every flight in was packed. So much so that weight was an issue and ticketed passengers were regularly bumped off because of it. All of those men coming in. Two weeks on the job and two weeks off, some of whom would fly back home. Motels had no vacancy. A spot in a trailer park, just the spot itself, rented for $1,000 a month. Local newspaper aired the complaint that rent in town had jumped from $700 to $1,000 a month. The elderly, being on fixed incomes, particularly hit hard. Everywhere these big men in dirty work clothes. Mostly in their thirties. Oil rig engineers, roughnecks, roustabouts, service contractors, Haliburton types. I walked the airport's parking lot, which was all but full. License plates. New Mexico, Alaska, Illinois, Tennessee, Texas, Louisiana, California, Oklahoma, Arkansas. Many more states represented.

And the frenzy in the air. The feeding frenzy. Unlike me a colleague of mine, a scientist, is not given to hyperbole or exaggeration. But even he was taken aback by it, noted the nervousness in the air. The locals are particularly nervous. Not knowing what to expect. And the town of what once was 15,000 souls without the adequate infrastructure, what will need another 5 to 10 years to put in place. And no one actually sure for how long the fields will produce oil. Maybe 5 years, maybe 40. Nor, it seemed to me, is anyone actually sure who will foot the infrastructure bill. Likely the oil companies will not, as is their habit. Major thoroughfares and highways deeply rutted from the heavy truck traffic. Locals are nervous for even closer reasons. What will fracking do to the underground water supply? Not much rain fall in that part of the country.

Something else I noted, in the newspapers mostly. It is the debate going on about the proposed pipeline to bring down Canadian oil as far south as the refineries in Texas. What will impact the region. What will personally impact the locals. A debate in all likelihood already a foregone conclusion. This in the name of national security, helping to free America from its extreme dependence on Middle East oil. As will the Williston fields.

When I worked off shore oil rigs in the Gulf it was also a boom time. Mid seventies. Most of the men with whom I worked did not have a college education. Some of them did not possess a high school diploma. But the money they made was almost extravagent, except for the fact it was earned the hard way. As a roustabout I took home over $2,000 a month, working over 90 hours a week every other week. So I know well the kind of money these boys come to Williston will make. For awhile. The kind of money they cannot make anywhere else. So they will come from all over the country. They will leave their families and their homes. Every two weeks they will return home with paychecks. If they are like me they will first sleep for up to 24 hours. They will give their wives their paychecks. Then they will go out and spend their money on things neither they, their wives, or their children actually need. It is how it is with the working poor in boom times. Then comes the bust. Next year, five years from now, thirty years from now. One evolutionist calls evolution punctuated equillibrium. Punctuated moments of evolutionary development followed by long, flat stretches of equillibrium. Evolutionary stasis. I cannot think of a better way to caption the economic cycle, capitalistic in drive, of the bust following on the boom.

One bee keeper told me that the Fort Peck Reservation also has oil in its shale. It makes sense. But oil companies keep clear of the reservation because its governing council insists on owning half of everything. From resource extracted to equipment. What seems logical to the council I guess seems unreasonable to the oil companies. On the strength of what I was told that is how the case seems to me.

The working poor sometimes lucking out for awhile. The welfare state poor for whom esssential services are free, many of whom are so bored they pop open their first can of beer at 8 in the morning. I don't know. At 60 I still don't know, travel my country like the first time I hitch hiked from one ocean to the other, age 16, shaking my head. It all must make sense to somebody. Maybe in a corporate office or to some Wall St investor. But not to me.

I was recently reminded that one of the most popular American folk songs was communist in its incitement and original conception. Woody Guthrie's This Land is Your Land. But it is not actually true, is it? Not really. Not essentially. Except maybe on an Indian Reservation where ownership comes at the price of institutionalized poverty.

Terreson

Last edited by Terreson, Oct/3/2011, 4:01 pm
Oct/3/2011, 3:29 pm Link to this post Send Email to Terreson   Send PM to Terreson
 
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Re: The Waffle House and America


Never a dull moment at the Waffle House.

I go in tonight for my expectable comfort dish. An omelet, toast, hashbrown potatoes, side order of saugage patties. Terrie, my favorite short order cook, is on duty. She who makes the fluffiest omelet. She who I could learn to obey. Maybe. She who has the finest ass, sharpest tongue, Titian himself would have wanted to capture. I am reading poetry, Arab women poetry, and marking poems to get back to with napkins from the dispenser. To my left at the counter are two young black women. I ask the nearest girl, "Do you read poetry?" Categorically, without pause, she says she doesn't. I ask if she likes music. She says she does. I say Stevie Wonder is one fine poet, yes? She giggles.

To my right is a young white woman. She could be my grandchild. Long hair, big ears. Pixie pretty. Fairie pretty. But crying without stop. Holding on to a phone book. I ask the waitress about the girl. She says she has been there since 4 in the afternoon, a good five hours since. In from Missouri it seems and with no place to stay. Her friend who was supposed to meet her, it also seems, is caught up in a LSU football game, can't break away. Go figure. Football more important than friends.

I take a chance and make an offer. I say I can put her up for the night at the local La Quinta motel. I expect her to say no, which is what I would advise my daughter to do in such a circumstance. She says yes and still crying. Out in the parking lot I see her car, a Camry I think, is packed full of belongings. Just enough room for a driver. I say, Oh, you are moving down here, right? She says she is, moving to live with her father in Lafayette. A town about 45 minutes to the west of here.

I note but I don't ask questions.

I lead the way to La Quinta motel. The clerk behind the counter, a tall, handsome black woman is gracious. In spite of the football weekend she has a room available. Price a premium. I say not a problem. She says she can give a discount. Clerk gives me the key card. I push it across to Julie, whose name I know by then. Maybe the clerk thinks the room is for two. I don't know. I put the room charge on a c.c., say goodbye to the girl in the parking lot.

All those tears. They were constant. The girl sitting in a Waffle House for something like 4 hours, waiting for a friend to show, her destination about 45 minutes away. The scene speaks to me of drug addiction. And of withdrawal pains. Her friend a connection.

The Waffle House and America.

Tere
Oct/8/2011, 11:10 pm Link to this post Send Email to Terreson   Send PM to Terreson
 
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Oh Tere! What a story,

Chris
Oct/9/2011, 8:49 am Link to this post Send Email to Christine98   Send PM to Christine98
 
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Now that you say something, Chris, I guess it is quite a story. Played out in all of 15 minutes. Here is what I am thinking now. Julie should have never taken up my offer, it coming from a perfect stranger. She should not have followed me in her car to the motel. That was either stupid or desperate. It is why I am pretty sure she was strung out on something or on its lack. That plus the constant flow of tears. On the other hand I behaved as stupidly. One of these days my stupid ass gallantries are bound to get me in trouble. Still playing the knight errant. How dumb is that? Anyway, the young girl got to be safe for one night. That is something, huh?

Tere
Oct/9/2011, 12:42 pm Link to this post Send Email to Terreson   Send PM to Terreson
 
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It is something. There might be some other explanation for her behavior, any number of reasons for her reluctance to drive straight to her dad's place if, in fact, that's where she was headed. Anyway, it was a decent impulse,

Chris
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Tere,

Read this and thought of you and this thread:

Fla. lawmaker wants to bring back firing squads

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Saying it’s time to stop letting convicted killers “get off that easy,” a Florida state lawmaker wants to use firing squads or the electric chair for those on Death Row.

Rep. Brad Drake filed a bill this week that would end the use of lethal injection in Florida executions. Instead those with a death sentence could choose between electrocution or a firing squad, under the proposal.

Drake, R-Eucheeanna, said the idea came to him after having a conversation with a constituent at a DeFuniak Springs Waffle House over the legal battles associated with the Sept. 28 execution of Manuel Valle.


Oct/13/2011, 9:21 pm Link to this post Send Email to Katlin   Send PM to Katlin
 
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Since I'm on a FLA kick, you probably heard this one:

Florida's Pinellas County rejects fluoride in drinking water

Commissioner Norm Roche voted to end the fluoride treatment, saying it was a "social sort of program" the county should avoid, the St. PetersburgTimes reported.

Opponents such as the Fluoride Action Network say the fluoride could harm children and should not be administered by the government. "Fluoride is a toxic substance," said Tea Party activist Tony Caso, the Times reported. "This is all part of an agenda that's being pushed forth by the so-called globalists in our government … to keep the people stupid so they don't realize what's going on."


Please feel free to delete these two posts, Tere, if you feel they are too disruptive to your thread!

Oct/13/2011, 9:29 pm Link to this post Send Email to Katlin   Send PM to Katlin
 
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Thanks, Kat. Pretty interesting conversatons can be found in the Waffle House.

My brother, PhD type, social scientist, political observer, and native Floridian, recently opined that Gov Rick Scott of FL makes Gov Jindal of LA, a fire red engine state, look like an enlightened despot. If nudged on the subject, brother just might consign Scott to Dante's 9th ring of hell, just above Lucifer himself.

It all amounts to a war on the poor.

http://articles.cnn.com/2011-06-05/politics/florida.welfare.drug.testing_1_drug-testing-tanf-welfare-recipients?_s=PM:POLITICS

I seem to recall that John Birchers of the 50s deemed flouride put in the drinking supply a communist conspiracy.

Tere
Oct/14/2011, 5:29 pm Link to this post Send Email to Terreson   Send PM to Terreson
 


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