Posted by: MC | November 5, 2010

Stories on the Night After the Election

Jarred the grocery store guy told me a story last night.

We were talking about his work – he’s something of a mid management type with responsibility for ensuring the identification and obstruction of shop lifters.  “Yeah.  I can recognize them because I’ve been there.  I wasn’t there long and I’m not proud of it, but that’s a big part of how I know them when I see them.”

Jarred is in his 40’s.  He has a son.  His own parents are Palestinian and African American.  He says he turned his life around quick when his son was born.  He says, “I’m telling you.  You’re on your own out here.  Nobody’s going to give you anything, so you have to be smart and honest and work hard.”

“But, there are people who are really down on their luck,” Jarred said.  Then he told of a woman.  He said he was standing by the main door when he saw them walking toward the store. One woman, three toddlers.  He said she looked drawn and like she hadn’t slept in years.  That the babies were frighteningly thin and without even the shadows of smiles.  He watched them load into a shopping cart and about 20 minutes later, he watched her walk quietly, invisibly by the check out lines and toward the open main door to the parking lot.

“I had the righteous urge to yell.  To stop her, because that was my job,” Jarred said.  “But for some reason, I didn’t,” he said.  “That woman and her kids, they were hurting.  They were way down on their luck.  She didn’t have nothing.”

“About 8 months later,” Jarred went on, “that lady walked back in the store, right up to me, and she handed me a wad of bills.  ‘I left without paying a few months ago.  I want to pay the store back.’”

Jarred had been making big movements as we’d been talking.  Using his strong body and its range to accent what he said.  But now he was holding pretty still.  We looked at each other.  Both of us had tears overfilling our eyes.  “That story always gets me,” Jarred said.

The election is done for this biennium.  People who were moved to vote, registered their wishes.  Lots and lots of money and lots and lots of mostly inciting language were thrown around while parents and children and old people and street people down on their luck lurked around the edges doing what they could to survive.  And that lurking – it happened again today.  These people didn’t vote and none of the money or language of the campaign went their way to compel them to vote.  That’s just the story – the way it is in our country.

Some of us have voted.  It’s done for awhile, again.  Now we see what we do next.


  1. The poor will always be with us. (Jesus made that up, not me)…

    Storytelling… ahhhh!

    I will be glad when it’s not just the single (custodial) moms who get a compassionate reaction.. heard a beautiful story on NPR this morning that a daughter told about snippets from growing up with her paranoid-schizophrenic mom..

    Like this style, MC .. it’s evocative.

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