I drove into Madison, Wisconsin yesterday to deliver a car to an elderly couple. They had been calling me every hour on my drive to see where I was. It was a long drive up from Florida, and I had run into some really terrible weather along the way. When I got to the airport, where they asked me to meet them, I had the paperwork signed and then gave them $30 in toll receipts. "What is this for?" asked the haughty woman.
"Toll receipts, my boss Riff told me that you would reimburse me for them."
"I most certainly will not, and how dare you for presuming to ask me."
"I meant no offense, but my boss--"
"Yes, yes, your boss, always pass the buck and blame it on someone else. I don't believe your boss told you to ask me for anything, I think you are a con man and a charlatan, and you are trying to take advantage of me. You are a rude, rude, rude young man. Here, let me see those toll receipts." I handed all 20 pieces of paper to her, and she threw them up into the air. It was a windy day, and they went flying everywhere. "Now, let's just see what you're going to do about that!" She and her husband got into the car and drove away.
I rented a car, which would get me out of Madison the following day. But now I wanted a hotel room and a shower. When I went into the Best Western, there were a whole lot of people outside carrying signs climbing onto a bus. Protesters. I had been hearing a lot about this on the news for the past several weeks. Something about the Unions.
After I was checked in and had a shower, I went back to the desk and asked for something I could do for entertainment in Madison. The nice lady at the Front Desk suggested I go and see the parade downtown. I asked her what the parade was about, and she was interrupted by a phone call. She was delayed for a long time by the call, so I just smiled and waved and left.
I got downtown and found a hard time getting a parking spot, because of the crowds and street closures. Once I found the main drag where the parade was, I saw tractors going down the street. Lots and lots of tractors. And nothing else but tractors. This was the most unusual parade I had ever seen. It was bitter cold outside, and the wind was cutting right through me. So I found a place called the Coffee Shack and went in. There were a few other people in there, including an odd little man sitting in the corner mumbling to himself.
"How do you like the weather?" a friendly woman asked me as I added sugar and milk to my coffee.
"A whole lot colder than Florida, where I just came from. Say, what's this parade about? I've never seen one where they only have tractors."
"Oh, its a protest parade. The farmers are all driving their tractors down the street to show how unhappy they are with the state and federal funding. Or lack of funding. They are very mad at our Governor."
"I saw some protesters over by my hotel, I assumed they were all about the Union situation."
"Union!" shouted the odd man in the corner. "Did you say Union?" He came rushing over to where I was standing. "For God's sake man, do you know what you're saying?"
"I was just saying--"
"No excuses, the Unions are a very serious matter. Not to be taken lightly, not to be made fun of."
I shook my head. "I had no intention of making fun."
"So you say." He eyed me suspiciously. "My name is Pete, and I love the Unions. Do you hear what I'm saying?"
"Loud and clear, Pete."
"Union means the act of uniting or the state of being united."
"It can also mean the state of matrimony. Or sexual intercourse."
"I suppose that's true," I said.
"Oh, there is no supposing. It's a fact. Think about it, the bond of their union led to years of happy marriage. In order to form a more perfect Union, the North beat the South in the Civil War. Were you aware of that?"
"Yes I was, I mean, I am."
"A Union can also be the coupling device for connecting parts, such as rods or pipes. Do you see where I'm headed with this?"
"Um, not exactly."
"When I was a kid I went to Training Union at my church every Sunday night. It was sort of like Sunday School, only at night. Does that mean anything to you at all?"
"Don't you have a heart? You just refuse to see what's right in front of your face. The Union protects the working man, and we must fight for the Unions above all else. It's the most important issue in these United States. Can you see that?"
"I think there are two sides to every issue."
"Then you are an ignorant moron, my friend. Can I make a suggestion to you? Please go rent the DVD of NORMA RAE, perhaps that will enlighten you. I weep for idiots like you." Pete burst into wild laughter and went running out, zig zagging as he ran. I guess I need to go watch NORMA RAE again. After all, Sally Field is a wonderful actress.