No one likes to be told what to do.
All right, there may be a few who sort of like it and some who can’t function without it, but generally speaking, the vast majority of us like to make our own choices.
Of all the organizations that are involved in telling others what to do, the government tops the list of most disliked. From the bloated entity that is the Federal Government of the United States, down to the local city government in the corner of Utah, they are all in the business of constantly telling citizens what they can and cannot do. The hot news topic recently has to do with governments having their pesky fingers in everybody’s pie, first telling us who we have to sell products to, then telling us it’s alright to not if that person’s lifestyle offends, then changing their minds again.
“It’s about coercion.” Really good point. The argument shouldn’t be about the who, but the what. The conversation isn’t really about liking or disliking gay people at all, but government intrusion. This argument would be much more persuasive if its champions were only as vocal about every other example of governmental coercion, constitutionally justified or not.
“The government shouldn’t tell businesses who they have to serve, period.” I get it, I really do. I even agree with it on some level. I also think that owning and operating a certain type of business is a choice, and that with that choice come obligations. One of them is allowing people who want to make reasonable use of your services to do so. Everyone has a story about a time they had to do something uncomfortable on the job. My library experience was full of such events- Providing information and library services to patrons that I found offensive, dangerous, misguided. Like most of you, I did my job.
Fulfilling my duty as a librarian did not mean I suddenly condoned certain behavior or supported certain political or religious positions. My job was to provide access to information. I did. End of story.
I recently saw a social media post that posited, “But what about the Jewish baker who is asked to make a cake for a Nazi wedding?”
We can make lists for days of the hypothetical things (business owners and employees) bakers, florists, wedding bands, doctors, civil servants, plumbers, police, grocers, shoe sellers might have to encounter that attack their deeply held religious convictions. Which religion? Which particular beliefs or obligations? Why do religious convictions get to be above reproach?
Where does our obligation to be decent human beings come into play?
The concert ended and the bright lights came on, temporarily blinding him. He waited for his vision to clear, listening to the strangely muted sounds of walking and talking all around him.
So much for enjoying those sound frequencies ever again.
“I’ll find you after they switch on the house lights,” she had told him. “Be patient. Stay. No matter how long it takes.”
She was so dramatic. Insisting not only that they meet here, among all these sweaty and aggressive people, but that he witness the entire show.
“I’ll be watching. You won’t see me, but I’ll be there. If you’re late, if you leave, I’ll know, and then we’ll have no deal.”
No deal? She talked like there was something clandestine, subversive and illegal about what they were doing.
“You called me, remember?”
“I remember, but you need to focus. This is information you want to have. Life altering stuff. Without it, good luck.”
“Fine, I’ll be there.”
“Try and listen to the music, hear the words. There are important things you can learn in what will be sung.”
He had tried, but the sound had been muddied. All he had heard was heavy bass, and the occasional screamed lyric. Whatever he was supposed to hear had been lost in poor acoustics and distortion.
I learned that whoever was assigned to sound engineering tonight should be fired.
He closed his eyes, which made the whine in his ears more noticeable. He experimented by putting a hand over his right ear, then left, and repeating the process five times. In the end, he determined the left ear more damaged.
“Did you enjoy the show?”
It wasn’t her. Instead, a woman with several facial piercings, wearing a dark gray canvass jacket, black jeans, stood in front of him. She looked at him with heavily made up blue eyes, and though he knew talking to this woman would delay more important conversations, he answered.
“No, not really”
“Same here. What bothered you most?”
She laughed, showing a set of teeth that had obviously cost a few thousand dollars. Straight, white, even. He imagined her at 15, braces she hated and hid at any cost.
“What were you waiting for?”
“The usual things. The guy in front of me to stop stepping on my feet. A moment of enlightenment, maybe for my telephone to ring. A song I could understand. That special someone to arrive.”
“Interesting. I’ve found that action is preferable to waiting. Passivity never seemed to sit well with me.”
He changed his mind. She would never have hidden her braces, choosing instead to dare anyone to say anything about them.
“Sometimes, acting requires waiting. Moving for the sake of motion can be counter productive.”
Someone knocked into him. He turned around, but whoever it was had already moved on. The crowd was thinning out, but there were enough people remaining to occasionally bump into him.
“Did the waiting pay off?”
“That remains to be seen. It did bring me to this moment, and I’m starting to like this moment.”
She laughed again.
“I’m hungry. Are you hungry? Rumor has it there is a really good cafe’ just around the corner. We could get some sandwiches, maybe a bowl of soup, talk more about how waiting is actually an active thing.”
“That sounds really great, but sadly, my active waiting isn’t over yet. I have to stay here until it is.”
“Hmm, that is too bad. Anything I can say to change your mind?”
“Several things, but I’m going to do the smart thing and not tell you what they are. Why don’t you share with me the name of this cafe’ and when my waiting is done, which will hopefully be very soon, I can meet up with you.”
She stuffed her hands into the front pockets of her jeans.
“It’s called Whisper Creek Cafe’. They make really good egg salad.”
She winked, then before he could say another word, turned and left, dodging in and out of people as if she was suddenly in a hurry to be elsewhere.
Strange, he thought.
Still he waited. Soon, there were only two other people left. Both were some sort of venue security, and they stared at him like he was a criminal. It would only be a matter of minutes before they would come over and tell him to move along. He scanned the room again, but there was no sign of her or anyone else. Frustrated, he reached into his back pocket for his phone. Instead, he found a folded piece of paper.
Three sentences were scrawled in blue pen across the page.
Patience has it’s reward. I think you and I can work something out, though I have taken your car just for fun. I’ll be in touch, soon.
Quickly, he reached into his front pocket. His keys were missing. How anyone had removed them was beyond him. He rushed out of the venue.
In the parking lot, cars crisscrossed dangerously in and out of exit lines, while the young occupants shouted heart felt obscenities at each other like they were terms of endearment. The spot where he had parked his car was vacant. He couldn’t help but smile.
He was done waiting. Now, he wanted some of that egg salad and maybe a drink.