What Are You Reading For?
The late comedian Bill Hicks related an experience that happened one late night at a Waffle House in Alabama. The story goes that he was at the table reading, and the waitress asked, “What are you you reading for?” After he discussed the absurdity of that question, he told us one of the patrons chimed in, “Welllll! Looks like we got us a reader!”
I think that patron was in a Waffle House this morning here in the Atlanta area, sitting in the booth adjacent to mine. He was on a rant. A genuine, southern, right-wing, conservative, ill-informed angry rant. He referred to the ACLU as the “A-C-L-L” twice. He whined about the Brits. He decried the evils of welfare and the welfare state. At one point, I had the urge to get up and tell him, “You don’t know me, but you know everything about me. All you have to do is think something, anything, and then think of the exact opposite of that thought, and that is me.”
Of all the stupid, angry, twisted, anti-intellectual bile that invaded my greasy yet tasty breakfast, the one thing that he said that really disturbed me went something like this:
“When we was young, we didn’t try to understand the stupid kids. We didn’t bring in counselors, give them extra help. We believed they were stupid because they didn’t work hard enough. They were ridiculed by the teachers and the other students, and that made them work harder. I think we should go back to that.”
I got up, walked over to his table and said, “What? The world doesn’t have enough aggressively ignorant imbeciles like you? We need more?”
Well in my mind I did that. In reality I pretended I didn’t hear a word he was saying, I finished my breakfast, and walked back to my car thinking, “I don’t want to die here in the south.”