Thursday, January 29, 2015

It's OUR turn!

Every year New England towns would have an annual town meeting. Many still do. It is democracy in its purest form.

Every registered voter is eligible to attend and speak their piece. 

Issues are often hotly debated for hours and just about anything that involves raising taxes is voted down.

Over the years the first two things I do when I move someplace is get my driver's license changed and register to vote. 

Most Alaskan towns have a different system. They have the usual city council that meets and takes care of things. Often these meetings are open to the public and feedback is allowed.

At the time the town's fish canneries were generally manned by a hash of resident Filipinos, college students, transients and others that seemed to be just passing through. The long time locals, for the most part, seemed to have other sources of income.

Without these people the canneries wouldn't be manned and likely they would collapse putting a pretty good dent in the local economy which was fishing based.

I groveled in the canneries a couple of times but quickly found other sources of income. Surprisingly, they were legitimate.

A handful of people never understood that a big part of the transient population contributed to the good and well being of the town. They resented these scruffy characters because they generally lived in tents, campers, WW2 bunkers, or whatever they could manage. Rents then were atrociously high and housing was scarce.

I briefly lived in a bunker when I first arrived.

Anyway, there was a scheduled city council meeting and the word was that a certain old long time resident was going to go to demand that the city council order the police department run these people out because they were supposedly ruining the entire town. 

This guy was one of those self-appointed city fathers that was in reality nothing more than a stuffy old windbag. He did have a sizable chunk of money and likely knew where a couple of bodies were buried but they had probably decomposed by now.

I knew the guy and he knew who I was. He had offered me some work but didn't want to pay for it so I had told him to shove it.

Anyway, I decided to attend the open meeting because I wanted to listen to the old bastard rant and rave. I also wanted to point out that the transients were a pretty good part of why the town was successful.

I had done some work for a couple of the members of the board and they knew who I was and was respected as a person that paid his own way. I caused no real trouble to speak of and was  accepted as a part of the community.

Anyway, the old timer got up there and started his rant. He had just gotten a few seconds worth off when he spotted me, pointed at me, stopped and turned to the council. "What's he doing here?" he demanded.

One of the councilmen conversationally said, "Mr. Piccolo is a registered voter and a part of the community. He has every right to be here."

"Hmmph." he said, giving me an angry glare and continued his rant. He carried on about how the transients were the ruination of the town for several minutes and went on and on. As he ended he did a particularly mean thing. He singled me out.

"Well, Piccolo, what do you think of that?"

"You're just jealous because I get more pu$$y than you!" I shot back.

There was a brief silence as everyone went agape and let it sink in. Then the place exploded with outrageous laughter.

The old goat turned to the city council and demanded I get thrown out. The secretary answered, "He's probably right. He stays!"

About this time Jinka shouted out, "And he's probably going to get some from me tonight if he plays his cards right! Pic! Meet me at the Ship's Wheel after the meeting!"

Jinka was a fisherman's widow that was a long time resident. She was college educated, very active in the community and well respected. Generally she was pretty cool, calm and collected but on very rare occasions she would let fly with an outrageous outburst. When she did it was generally a real corker.

The old man stood there in the face of laughter from the entire town and stormed out in humiliation as laughter and chaos reigned. It took about twenty minutes to bring things back to order.

For the rest of the meeting the city councilmen would look at me, smirk and shake their heads in amusement.

As the meeting was breaking up a longtime resident stopped me. "He's pretty vindictive," he said. "And he's got the ear of the chief of police."

A voice interrupted. It was one of the councilmen. "We've already had a quiet word over that," he said. "We'll have a quiet word with the chief." He turned to me. "This is NOT a get out of jail free card. You are expected to at least try and behave yourself. Try not to start a major brawl, rob the bank or hack anybody up. Do you take my point?"

"Yes, Sir," I replied.

I left the meeting and went out into the street and stuck out my thumb. The first person passing by stopped. "Headed to the Ship's Wheel?" laughed the driver.

"Damned right!" I replied.

When I walked in the bartender took one look and uncapped a Rainier beer and handed it to me. "On me," he said. 

I looked at the bar and there was Jinka with an empty seat next to her that I instantly took.

This was an important turning point in my life. It was when I finally decided that enough was enough and from there on in I refused to be intimidated by self-appointed jerks. Or even elected officials, for that matter.

To find out why the blog is pink just cut and paste this: NO ANIMALS WERE HARMED IN THE WRITING OF TODAY'S ESSAY

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