Readers of this blog may have noticed that I don't hold back when I get angry. That much is true. I don't hold back. But then--if ever there was a time to "let it all hang out" when it comes to humanity, this, without question, is it. An actual global apocalypse looms on the horizon, just decades away, if even that. And yet the cattle that make up the vast majority of this species slumber on, or worse: they are actively working to bring it on. This is a time of outright societal insanity writ globally. Anger and outrage is, truly, not just called for, but are often the only truly sane responses. Anything else is blinkered.
"19 cents" refers to the amount of money that the cashier, working at Fred Meyer, asked the woman in front of us, whose total was (I remember) $146.81, if she'd like to give to the local food bank, effectively rounding her total due to an even $147.
I'm sure you already know how she responded. Why else, you might ask, would I be writing about it if she said yes?
I'm not a fan of corporations, as you might know; and I'm no fan of Fred Meyer, either. They are like every other major American corporation in that they do far more evil than good, everything from selling sweatshop-produced clothing made in China, Mexico, and elsewhere, to factory-farmed meats, to products like RoundUp and a dozen others implicated in tens of thousands of deaths, to predatory business practices that put smaller, local businesses out of business.
To put a "Look, we're angels!" gloss on all that immoral grotesquery, they do things like this: if your total at checkout doesn't come out evenly--they'll ask if you want to give the difference, up to ninety-nine cents, to the local food bank.
What was notable to me wasn't the woman's no, which, honestly, I expected just looking at her, but the way in which she said it. It came with utter disdain pinching her face, as though the cashier had just asked, "Would you like it if I shoved a roll of quarters up your cooter?" It came out as a quiet mix between a hiss and a growl, low to the ground, dark, dripping with hate.
The cashier, recovering (she blinked at the response, as I recall), forced the fake cheer she was required to have and said, "No problem," and handed the woman her receipt, which the woman angrily stuffed into her purse before huffily pushing her overstuffed cart out of the aisle.
Nineteen goddamned cents.
She wasn't poor. She wore a huge diamond ring, and her Q-tip-gray hair had that just-covered-in-hairspray-at-the-local-salon look and smell to it, her face properly made up, her clothing top-of-the-line. In other words, nineteen cents was literally, and almost certainly, nothing to her. Less than nothing.
But the no that came out of her well-lacquered windpipe was full of such hate that it stuck with me. I won't forget it.
I think often of how much of a misanthrope I am. But the truth is, I'm nothing compared to that woman.
I'm nothing compared to any Trump supporter--two out of every five Americans, at last check--or Trump himself, or anyone in his illegitimate cabinet.
I'm nothing compared to any global climate change denialist.
I'm nothing compared to any capitalist you can name, including you, if you are one.
I'm nothing compared to any objectivist.
I'm nothing compared to any populace, like the one in Myanmar, that felt okay genociding fellow Muslim citizens.
I'm nothing compared to any evangelical or fundamentalist Christian, and probably two-thirds of those who aren't but still call themselves Christian.
I'm nothing compared to any Republican in existence, and probably two-thirds of all Democrats, and probably seven-eights of everyone else.
I'm nothing compared to probably any suburban alive.
I'm nothing compared to the CEOs, stockholders, and shareholders of probably any major corporation you can name--like Fred Meyer (who is owned by Kroger).
These people--these groups--all have the same thing in common, and that is, bottom line, their hatred of others. It shows in their cruel, calculating philosophies and policies. It shows in where they spend their money and their time. That's what their bottom lines ultimately show. To cover it up, to fool the sheeple, ol' Freddie Meyer asks you, their customer, if you would like to give to the local food bank through them.
I could go on, but I'll stop here.
A misanthrope? Me? Please.
My partner, Kye, had gone to the bathroom as our stuff was being rung up. Our total was $136.81.
The cashier glanced at me.
"Of course," I said before she could ask. I--a person who, with his partner, barely exists above the poverty line, barely above the need for the food bank ourselves.
She gave me not the fake smile she has to give someone else, but a real one. A genuine one. "Thank you," she said.