Guest Posts on County 10 are provided by contributors and the opinions, thoughts, and comments within are their own and may not necessarily reflect those of County 10.
As I looked into the stands in Wrangler gym last Friday night, I have to admit, I felt at home. No, it wasn’t because of the gym. My version of Wrangler gym, a place where I spent half of my professional career, fell into rubble under a wrecking ball a few years ago.
To put it simply, it was the people.
I sat with my friend Eugene Thompson for a few minutes between games and said to him, “I don’t think there is anyone here that I don’t know.”
With a crowd of around 500 watching the Wranglers and Cougars go at it that was more of a statement on life in Fremont County than it was anything I’d done to create all those connections.
That’s the way I want life to be. Most of us feel that way. It’s only politicians and their hangers-on that want division.
America can be as different as a Brooklyn neighborhood is from an Aleut village in Alaska, but that is our greatness.
Exploiting those differences is exactly what the elected boys and girls living off the public dole in Washington, DC go to bed dreaming of every night.
America was once a nation divided by region. The “Late Unpleasantness” as some gentrified southern ladies use as a name to refer to the American Civil War is perhaps the greatest example of that divisiveness.
Politicians played up those differences to the utmost from the Constitutional Convention in 1787 until Lee surrendered to Grant in 1865.
Politicians quickly discovered other “boogeymen” to keep the people off guard.
Race is always a great card to play, so is social class, but the options are dwindling for the dialing-for-dollars crowd that now makes up the federal government.
The fringe rules the nation, leaving the rest of us holding the bag. The left sees the far right fringe as racists, which most of them are, and the right sees the far left fringe as deviants, which is also correct.
Why the move from fearing the folks in Alabama or Boston to wondering if Billy Bob has a KKK robe in his closet or if Janet, is really Jim, disguised as a woman to win the 400-meter butterfly? That’s a simple answer, social media.
When I took a job as the IT Director at Wyoming Indian in 2005, one of the first things I noticed at the high school were a dozen or so kids dressed all in black, with chains, black lipstick, and eye makeup in the lunch line.
I questioned my buddy Chico Her Many Horses about what was going on.
“You think Native kids don’t watch MTV?” Chico said. “We’ve got goths out here just like everywhere else.”
As usual, he was spot on.
You wouldn’t have seen that a generation ago. Even the accents that once made it easy to guess where someone was from are starting to disappear. Those cute girls from Kentucky and Texas that melted our hearts back in the late 70s in Laramie just by speaking, may still have those southern accents, but it’s not as pronounced in their children. That’s the shrinking of boundaries via technology in action.
A few years ago, I told my two Italian teaching friends Tom Zingarelli and Lorenzo Chouinard that they were endangering the kids of Riverton with their behavior. If you were privileged to know these two guys they were the best friends a Riverton teenager could have. Kind to a fault, and always willing to help a kid in need, they were the epitome of what teachers should be, but…(here’s the but you knew was coming) they created the impression that all Italians.
I used to ask both of them how they could sleep at night knowing that one day a kid from Riverton would be in trouble in New York City or Chicago and think the thing to do was find the nearest Italian guy for help. How do you say, “Not a good idea” in Sicilian?
The point being, that kids from Riverton were right to assume that every Italian they met would be as great as these two based on their experience. In the realm of statistics, probably not.
Should they have acted differently? Not for a minute, but it gives you an idea of how one or two people can affect your view of the world, despite the societal poison of modern media.
My worldview is often at 35,000 feet these days traveling at 560 miles per hour to or from Pennsylvania.
We had a flight scheduled later this month that I knew might have to be changed. I purchased United “flight insurance” for just such an occasion and sure enough, had to change. I called United and was quickly transferred to their travel insurance section.
The agent was there to help he said and started to read the insurance policy word for word to me. I had the policy in front of me on my screen and interrupted him several times to say I’d already read it. “Thank you, Mr. Tucker,” he said. Then he proceeded to start reading it again.
Exasperated I finally yelled into the phone, “Stop, I know this already. I need the flight rescheduled; can you do that?”
“That’s done by our insurance department, “he answered. “I can change your flight for $650 each.” (That was more than our original tickets)
“Aren’t you the insurance department?” I asked again.
“Yes, but I can’t do anything, you’ll have to call back between 8 and 5 eastern time Monday through Friday,” were his final words.
I miss the old desk phones you could slam when you hung up, clicking the red button on a cell phone just doesn’t have the same pizzazz. He’d done his job just as United had trained him.
I waited three minutes, then called United again. This time an American with a Chicago accent answered the phone.
Leon was great from the start as I explained what I was trying to do. I apologized in advance before referring to the previous agent as an assclown, but he took it in stride.
“Believe me, I have to work with these morons every day,” he said. “You paid for a service, and they should honor it, but they won’t. Let me see what I can do.”
I listened as he talked to himself, moving through the maze of a corporate airline travel interface.
After a few minutes I said, “I’m expecting to hear you scream ‘PC Load Letter.’”
He laughed and said, “Exactly, just like Office Space.”
Office Space is a film featuring frustrated cubicle workers trapped in the worthless world of the corporate maze, and I’d found a kindred spirit in Leon who was living it.
In the space of fewer than 10 minutes, he changed our itinerary, kept the same flight times, the same seats, and best of all it cost nothing to change. The insurance was never mentioned.
He did say, “If United calls, tell them I never talked to you.”
Good people make up the majority of America, just like those folks in the stands last Friday night.
It’s only the corrupt that thrive on creating undue red tape, work to separate us, and earn profits on our work while contributing nothing themselves that are the real enemy.
As Waylon Jennings sang in America, “Well I come from, down around Tennessee, but the people in California are nice to me, America.”
It’s true in our little corner of America anyway.