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I truly appreciate that you've decided to share part of your day in my world. I hope your time has been well spent and I've made you smile, laugh or think.

Sunday, April 7, 2019

When Joe Biden Grabbed Me

I run on the outside of political circles. 

It's actually a great place to be. 

Rather than meet politicians in their official donor wooing mode, all charming and baby kissing, I get to see them when no one is looking.  I get to see how they treat people who aren't making donations.  Or, because I'm active in the community, I get to know them before they are big names.

It can be eye opening.

During the 2016 elections, we were fairly involved.  And because I have friends on the inside of the circle, I get to meet a lot of people.  In that circle, they are always charming and kind.

On the outside of the circle, some, not so much.

When my friend who is an activist told me to be sure I showed up at the Clinton election office, I said "Is Joe going to be there?"  She said it was going to be a surprise for the canvassers and not to tell anyone.

I picked up some donuts, granola bars and water for the canvassers and "happened" to show up when she said.

Secret Service hadn't arrived yet.

My very dear friend who I will call  Liza also showed up.  She had her 10 year old granddaughter with her who I will call Anna.  She had custody of Anna because her daughter had passed away the year before.  Anna's father wasn't able to care for her at the time, and Liza and her husband were her guardians.

Our family had gotten to know Anna over the year and we brought her into our clan- The Bean Team- during a holiday party when we were playing in a party game tournament and we all realized she was a viciously competitive as our family.  She is a feisty, smart young girl and we love her.

She was having a bad day.  It was just past the year anniversary of her mother's death- from cancer, a long, painful battle- and the social worker at her school had made a comment the day before about how she might not be able to stay with her grandparents because of some technicality.  It was an offhanded comment not meant to upset her, but it did. 

That morning she didn't want to leave my friend, her grandmother's side.  So Liza brought to the event.

She was the only kid during the school day there.

She picked out her favorite donut and we all talked in the back during the training session for the canvassers.

Then, the Secret Service came in the room and let everyone know what was really going on.  They had been invited there because the Vice President of the United States would be speaking.

The crowd of about 100 got really excited. 

We told Anna to go grab a seat so she could have a better view.

The Secret Service was VERY clear, if you were next to the VP, you could not take a selfie.  They also said that Biden tended to get off schedule, they had a very busy day so please, don't delay him.

They were not warm and friendly.  They were serious.  They wanted to stay on task. 

Liza went to the side of the room to see our friend's newborn baby.  I stood in the back of the room, letting the canvassers have the good seats. 

Biden got up on the stage and gave a phenomenal speech.  He was energetic.  He was hopeful.  He was gregarious.  During the speech he started to talk about the vulgarity of the debates and stopped himself when he saw Anna in the room.

"See?  We can't even talk about what Trump said because there's a child in the room!"

Anna immediately replied, "That's okay- I can't stand him."

And the crowd laughed, including Biden. 

After about 30 minutes (?) of positive, energizing comments, he hopped off the stage and went around the room to pose for pictures and meet the canvassers. 

Biden IMMEDIATELY went over to my friend with the baby and it was adorable. (We had teased her and said she brought the baby to lure in the politician for the photoshoot and she said "Darn right, I did!" )

I stayed in the back because I'm not all about the schmoozing.  I was happy to hear his speech.

Then, he said:

"Hey, let's do a group selfie--- let me get to the back and you all crowd up in the front."

And about 10 seconds later, there I was- the woman in the back of the room, avoiding everyone,  standing next to the Vice President of the United States.

And then it happened.

He grabbed me.  He put his arm around me as if we were war buddies reunited 20 years later.

I'm sure the look on my face if anyone had snapped a picture at that moment would have been "WTF?"

It's not because it was sexual.  It's because it was sudden.  It was unexpected.  It was firm.  And I'm not a huggy touchy person.

He looked at me and with this big giant smile, I immediately relaxed- and then he said /yelled "Hey- let's get a future President in the picture" and he called Anna over.

My friend Liza, from across the room said "Hold on-- wait for Grandma!!" and ran across the room in her heels.  It was hilarious. 

Biden's arm was still around me and I have to say, I went from"WTF" to "Holy crap, the Vice President is standing next to me as if we are the best of friends... "

He put his arm around Liza as well.

We snapped the picture. 

The Secret Service was trying to get him out the door.

Liza turned to him and said "Thank you for making what started as a terrible day, a wonderful day for my granddaughter.  My daughter lost her battle with cancer about a year ago and it was one of those bad days for us..."

Then, what happened next, what I got to witness, was the single most impressive action I've ever seen from a politician in my lifetime.

Despite the Secret Service motioning him to go, Biden got down on his knee and starting talking with Anna.  Everything stopped. 

The only people who could hear or see him were me, the Secret Service agent (who had that "Here we go again" look on his face), Liza and our other friend I'll call Donna.

He started to talk with her about how hard it was on his son when his wife and children were killed in the car crash.  How he never forgot the pain, but they got through it.  How she would get through it and never forget it either.  How lucky she was to have a grandma that loved her so much.  And Anna, usually tough as nails, started crying.  And all us of, except the Secret Service agent, started crying- ugly snot crying-- and he hugged Anna and held her, told her she would be okay and let her cry.  Then he stood up, with tears in his eyes, looked at Liza and told her that losing his son was the hardest thing, how awful cancer was, and he knew how she felt.  And they cried and they hugged.

And then Anna looked up at him and said "It's okay- you're going to be all right" - and that was it- full flood gates were opened-- snot was flowing and the Secret Service ushered him out the door as he wiped his eyes.

No one else saw it.

It was not for a public viewing.  It was private.  It was real.  It wasn't a photo op (although I did take pictures in between the sniffles). 

It was a man who has met with world leaders, who was in line for the presidency, who took 10 minutes of his very busy schedule to console a little girl he had just met who was mourning the loss of her mother.

So yes, Joe Biden grabbed me.  Not just by the shoulder.  He grabbed my soul. 

He exuded a kindness that I haven't seen in many people.

Especially in local political circles where if there isn't a camera present, a very different person shows up.

And I'll leave that last comment there for the locals who know exactly what I mean.

As for personal space issues, that's an entirely different conversation that I've blogged on before. 

Thursday, February 21, 2019

The Assholes Among Us

I'm tired of people being assholes.


So, so tired of it.

Of dressing others down.

Of insulting, humiliating, degrading others.

I'm done.

This week really was my tipping point.  I'm blaming a mixture of the full moon and PMS.

On Saturday night, my husband and I went out to dinner and to listen to a friend of his who plays in a jazz combo.  It had been awhile since we'd had the opportunity for just the two of us to go out.  Valentine's Day had passed, we've both been busy with work and kids' activities, we needed a night to listen to some great music at one of our favorite Italian restaurants.

He made reservations for 6:30.

We pulled in at 6:20 and the place was packed. In fact, we knew about a third of the people there- all friends with the band.  My husband went up, gave them our name and we chatted with some friends in the crowded waiting area and listened to some good music while we waited.

I remember those nights when I waited tables and it was so incredibly busy you didn't have time to pee.  The wait staff was flying all over the place.  The owner was bussing a table or two, bringing drinks- as a small business owner myself it made me happy.  I am so sick of chain restaurants destroying our fantastic local restaurants.  This place was buzzing and alive.

And then in walks Mr. Dickwad.

Older gentleman in a sport coat.

I didn't originally think he was a dickwad.  At first I thought he was classy and I wished my husband had worn a sport coat- of course, that would require that he own one but whatever...

Then the sport coat opened his mouth.

The owner was hosting. A woman who was holding flowers and with the sport coat man, approached and he wrote down their name.

Well, Mr. Dickwad didn't trust her so he approached.

"We have a reservation."

"Yes, I know- I put your name right here."  The owner smiled.

"I see that you wrote it down, but we have a reservation."

"Yes- I have it right here-'

"But it was for 6:30!" Mr. Dickwad demanded!

The owner- who is  a great guy (evidenced by his bussing and water pouring, helping his staff and having hung out with me one time during lunch when my friend and I were asking about a special and it turned into him joining us)- said incredulously---

"It's 6:34."

"It IS!" Mr. Dickwad seemed to think this made his point.

The rest of us were all rolling our eyes.  Because it's FOUR MINUTES.

And the guy begins to berate the owner about how they must not really take reservations and on and on and I had enough.

This was my night out with my husband to be an adult.  A grown up date with music, wine and making goo goo eyes at each other (don't throw up).

And I turned...

This is when I could see my husband go whiter than he already is.  He knew what was next- I was going to go what we refer to as "full pit bull."

And while I wanted to say "Listen asshole, you're embarrassing your wife, this is the OWNER and what the hell do you want him to do?  Kick out someone while they're eating?  Throw their food on the floor?  Shut the hell up and wait your damn turn with the rest of us."

But I didn't.

Because it's a nice place and I love my husband and if I'm going to start taking on assholes, I'm going to take the high road.

"Sir, we all have reservations.  All of us."  I motioned to the entire waiting area who was nodding in agreement. I was firm.  I was not rude.

He backed off.

And then the 2 couples next us snickered.  The young couple said "Our reservations were for 6:15 actually... but I think we'll live...."

The other couple said "Nice job." 

And then I said "Well, his Viagara is probably going to wear off soon- maybe he's in a time crunch..."

So don't anoint me with sainthood.  I still need to work on my kinder, nicer approach.

And my husband looked at me and said "I'm sure the owner was fine.  He's probably used to it."

He probably is.

Because screaming at people is the new norm. 

But it bothered me.  My kids were not known for having temper tantrums (they did but rarely).  The reason they didn't have them is because they didn't work.  I didn't tolerate them.  You have a temper tantrum, you get nothing.  I can wait it out.  Ask my mother in law.  My daughter and I sat outside a restaurant in January in a stare down because she would not behave.  No one else in the restaurant needed their dinner disrupted by my 3 year old. I can get mine to go. The other people don't need to pay the price.

And I certainly did not want my date disrupted by a 70 year old man having a temper tantrum.


When the owner was seating us (before The Dickwads, who were still waiting), he apologized because it was a small table in the back.  We aren't small people.  I said "Well, if it's a really shitty table, give it to that guy." He laughed and said "Thank you- that guy's a fucking asshole." Our table turned out to be fine- nice and quiet in the corner so we could make ample goo goo eyes.

It did matter that I had said something because I've seen people like Mr. Dickwad and they don't back down.  The owner didn't deserve that.  Good customer service doesn't mean letting someone treat you like crap.

I didn't get in Mr. Dickwad's face- I didn't call him names.  Had he said something back... who knows, but more than likely I would have rolled my eyes.

But he didn't because my guess is, he's gotten away with this for a long time and no one has ever said anything.

And I'm just done watching people do this.

To anyone.

The cashiers at Target.  Or the waiter at the restaurant.  Or the teacher at your kid's school. Or the receptionist at the doctor's office.

People make mistakes.  They don't do it on purpose.  If a grade goes in wrong or I'm handed the wrong change, there is no reason for me to dress someone down as if they caused the collapse of the universe. 

People don't sit around thinking "Wow, how can I screw this up and ruin Mr. Dickwad's day?"

They don't.

Restaurants get busy.  It means they are good. Wait your turn or leave. We have a LOT of restaurants in Las Vegas.

Teachers have a lot of students.  As long as a wrong grade gets corrected before the end of the term, who cares?

But nasty gram emails and phone messages and "letting people know what you really think"-

Here's a heads up to all the Mr. Dickwad's- what they think is that you're an asshole.  The waiter is probably spitting in your food.  The cashier is probably going to go extra slow with the person in front of your next time, so you go to another lane.  The receptionist at the doctor's office is never going to squeeze you in.

So the next time you feel like giving someone a piece of your mind- don't.  You need it.

And if you see someone berating another person for no other reason than they want to feel big by making the other person feel small, say something.  Something polite. Something kind. 

We have to stop bullying in the adult world.

Kids will be kids.

Grown ass men in sports coats know better. 

For all I know, maybe they were celebrating his wife's 5 year cancer free anniversary.  Or their 50th wedding anniversary. Or maybe it was a first date (and hopefully the last because she needs to run).  Maybe he was having surgery on Monday.  I don't know.

I do know that he had no right to speak to someone as if they were less than.

No one does.

Maybe if we all start acting a little kinder and start looking out for one another, it'll catch on.

Be kind. Stand up.

It makes a small ripple in a big pond.