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Dana Parsons

The Voter Who's So Angry That He Can't Think Straight

November 02, 1994|Dana Parsons

Hunched in a corner booth at an all-night diner, he sat alone, muttering to himself while fumbling with his mashed potatoes and peas. " Damn lumpy potatoes. Damn slippery peas ."

He barely acknowledged me as I approached. "Excuse me, sir."

"Where's my damn butter?" he growled, knocking over several items on the table as he looked in vain for it.

"Are you The Angry Voter?" I asked.

"Shut up!" he said.

"You must be him. If you've got a minute, I'd like to talk to you about the election."

"Damn crooks, all of 'em," he muttered. "Crooks, liars and fools."

"You seem pretty upset. How come?"

He flung a wad of mashed potatoes at me, but I ducked and it splatted on the back of a customer's jacket in the next booth.

"Damn country's falling apart, and those people aren't doing anything about it."

"Exactly how is the country falling apart?" I asked.

"Pretty damn obvious, isn't it? Job, schools, taxes, crime, you name it."

"Sure, it's obvious, but I'd like to hear it from you. Are you out of work?"

"No, I've been working every day of my life for the last 30 years."

"Oh, but you're probably pretty worried about retirement, right?"

"No, the company's got a pretty good pension plan, and we're covered on health. Not that any of us has ever been sick. The company is sponsoring a cruise this winter, and it looks like my wife and I are going. No damn Christmas bonus last year, though."

"Oh, that is tough. What else has you down?"

"Damn car. Can't afford a new one."

"That's too bad. Got kind of a clunker, do you?"

"Well, she's a '92 Honda, but we wanted a new one this year. Already got 25,000 miles on her, and the kids want me to get a convertible. Fat chance."

"You blame the politicians for that, huh?"

"What are you, a wise guy? Of course, I blame them."

"What kind of house do you have?"

"We got a three-bedroom with a couple garages."

"Crummy neighborhood, huh?"

"No, it's pretty decent. We've lived here 15 years and there's a park two blocks away and the kids can walk to school."

"So, the schools are pretty poor, are they?"

"Pass me the damn salt. . . . Well, you hear a lot of talk, but the kids seem to like their teachers. All I know is they're doing homework all night. I guess they're doing OK, but my kids never listen to a damn thing I say."

"You blame that on the politicians, right?"

"Damn straight."

"And you're really getting soaked on taxes, huh? You losing a lot more out of your paycheck?"

"Well, not really. Our payments have held pretty steady, and I guess inflation ain't too bad, and the house has picked up a little value, but the money just seems to go, you know what I mean?"

"Sure. Times are tight."

"I had to get my oldest boy a car. He's 16, you know. And just last week, my daughter said all her friends were going skiing over winter break, so that'll cost another thousand bucks. You think people in Washington give a damn about that?"

"Probably not. I can see why you're upset, but let's talk about the election this year."

"Hate all those politicians. They don't give a damn about the common man. They're living the life of Riley back there in Washington, and we're barely scraping by out here. They've lost touch with us. I'd like to throw 'em all out."

"You do seem pretty angry about things."

"No damn baseball. No damn hockey. TV stinks. Had to repair the washer last week. My wife's on my case all the time. It's a crying shame. Last week, she made me go to the damn symphony. I told her to take the kids to the movies tonight and leave me alone."

"Do you mind if I ask how you're going to vote in the major races next week?"

"I haven't paid much attention. Whole country's falling apart anyway. What difference does it make who you vote for?"

"Let me see if I have this straight. Aside from being in good health and living in a big house with stable payments in a nice neighborhood and having a steady job and going on a cruise this winter and sending your kids to good schools and buying your son a car and sending your daughter skiing and having enough left over to go to the symphony or the movies, is there anything else wrong with your life?"

"Yeah, last weekend my cable went on the blink during the fourth quarter of the football game. Missed two full minutes. Damn bureaucrats. I'd like to get rid of all of them."

"Thanks for talking to me. How about if I pick up your tab, and you leave the tip?"

"Forget it," he said. "I ain't leaving no damn tip."

Dana Parsons' column appears Wednesday, Friday and Sunday. Readers may reach Parsons by writing to him at The Times Orange County Edition, 1375 Sunflower Ave., Costa Mesa, Calif. 92626, or calling (714) 966-7821.

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