Things not always as they appear
Published: Tuesday, October 30th, 2007
I was closing out my treadmill session at the gym a few weeks ago, and I saw something I couldn’t stay silent about. There was somebody parking his truck in the handicapped spot in front of the gym. Without a handicapped plaque visible in his cab. While walking in just to chat at the front counter. When he parked, my treadmill read 12:30 left. I remembered English philosopher Edmund Burke’s words: “All that is required for evil to prevail is for good men to do nothing.” Time for this good guy to do something. As my workout ended, I imagined his responses. I’ve only been here a few minutes — no, you’ve been here about 15 minutes. There wasn’t another spot — no, there was an open spot right next to you. Stop being a jerk about one small rule — I’m not the jerk taking a spot from the handicapped. Workout done, and combat-ready, I asked, “Hey, are you handicapped?” He answered, “Yeah. I got injured when I was overseas in the military. My card’s in my wallet.” Didn’t see that one coming. Now I’m the good guy who came within inches of smearing a disabled veteran. That guy and I laugh about it when we see each other, and his impression of my “abort mission” face is first-rate. Yep, the “Ready, Fire, Aim” approach often backfires. Just ask Mark Ellis. Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, has a perfect voting record in the Senate, which I find pretty admirable regardless of how she voted. She and Ellis, the Maine Republican Party chair, took that perfect record and held it up against that of Rep. Tom Allen, D-Maine. “Congressman Allen really seems to have lost interest in showing up to work,” Ellis said in a release after Allen missed three votes Oct. 2. “At the very least, he should tell his constituents why he is choosing to leave them unrepresented in Congress less than a year after he was re-elected. For these and the many other days that Tom has skipped votes, Mainers deserve to know the answer to the question: Where was Tom?” Answer: Allen was at a family funeral. Fortunately, Ellis was gracious enough to send condolences as soon as he found out the answer. With the exception of scope, Ellis and I aren’t much different. If you’re going to be a bomb-thrower, be ready for bombs with fast fuses. One way to prepare — act bombproof. Conservative author Ann Coulter writes books I couldn’t agree with less, but does so with bravado that I admire. While promoting her new book, she said it’s her dream that women would lose voting rights, because they always screw up and vote for a Democrat. Nobody can complain I’m taking her out of context, and she’s neither apologizing nor backtracking on any show that books her. I don’t think Coulter believes many of the things she says, but she’ll keep cashing royalties as long as talk shows invite her on to “defend” herself. So if I see another person without a sticker parking in a handicapped spot, or Mark Ellis sees another opportunity to jab Tom Allen, don’t blame us for speaking out. Maybe there’s a book deal in it for one of us.
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