As we like to do on rainy days, Grandpop and I drove to town for breakfast at the Tumble Weed Diner. Hard to tell if the driving rain had kept folks at home, but except for a few regulars at the counter, and two very citified fellows in business suits in the booth by the big window, we had the diner pretty much to ourselves.
After we made our rounds exchanging, “Mornin’s,” comments on the weather, and advice on how to survive it, we slid into the booth next to the well dressed gentlemen. I noticed they watched us, but didn’t interrupt their conversation, or return Grandpop’s hat tip greeting.
Sally brought us our usual, black coffee, three egg omelets, homefries with onions, and Grandpop’s raisin toast. She lingered a second, as if she wanted to chat. “How ya doin’ today?” Grandpop gave her his captivating smile.
“I’m okay. Guess it’s the weather.” Her eyes said more than her words.
“Come on, Sally, we’ve known each other since you were a little girl.” Gandpop said. “What’s eatin’ at ya?” He patted the seat next to him, “Have a sit, and tell ol’ Grandpop what’s up.”
Setting her coffee pot on the edge of our table, she slid into the booth, tossed her arm around Grandpop and kissed his cheek, “I’ve missed you … Well it’s all good news. I’ve starting spring classes at the community college, and Cookie just told me I can have more evening hours here at the diner. I just get tired working so long and studying too. But it’ll be worth it when I get my degree.”
“Dang, Sally, sure sounds like good news!” Grandpop toasted her with his half empty cup and another grin. “As I recall you started this venture last fall … business management, right?”
“Look out, Cookie,” I chimed in, directing my comment toward the kitchen. “She’ll be runnin’ this outfit before to long.” I tossed a wink to the fellows in suits. They gave me a half hearted glance then resumed their important looking conversation.
“It’ll be a long hard climb, and my dad says I’ll be making sacrifices along the way, but I really want to get there, ya know.” Sally tilted her head. “I’m just gonna make it happen!”
She topped off our coffees then moved to the fellows in the suits and refreshed theirs too. The fellow behind me spoke up. “Good luck to you, but you know the deck is stacked against you. Either you’re in or you’re out. The rich have theirs and the rest of us grovel.”
I knew that would fire up Grandpop, and it did. “What line of work are you young gents in?” His big grin leveled on the tallest fellow.
“We work in DC, aids to a Senator.” The cockiness in his voice was as rich as our coffee. “We’re working to level the playing field so people don’t have to struggle to get nowhere. People like Sally here don’t have a chance. We’re working so everybody can have all they want, not just a few.”
Grandpop’s eyes twinkled. “Good for you! You mean everyone should just be set, have all they need and have it fair, or even as you say, without having to sacrifice, struggle and, as we used to say, pay their dues.”
“You bet.” The other fellow added. “There’s too much unfairness in this country. That’s why we went to DC as soon as we graduated college. To help fix that wrong. Everyone should have a fair share. Even!” He punctuated his bold statement with a finger tap on the table.
“Fix that wrong. Interesting.” Grandpop sipped his coffee, winked at me. “So you’re into this ‘take from the greedy rich’ and as some say, ‘spread it around, satisfy everybody’s needs.'”
“You don’t see what we see, or you’d understand.” The tall fellow explained. “There’s plenty to go around if we just did things differently.”
“Differently?” Grandpop pondered out loud.
“Yes, those that can should give more to help those who need it. That’s all we’re saying. If somebody wants to grind it out every step of the way, well, good for them. But what about all those who can’t? Don’t get the breaks? We just think we need to find a way to take care of them so they don’t struggle. Make everyone even.”
“What if you could find a way to give everyone a million bucks?” Grandpop proposed. “Would that work? You said there’s plenty to go around. How about we make us a nation of millionaires overnight?”
After the surprised laughter subsided, the tall fellow toasted Grandpop, “That could work!”
“Are you a millionaire?” Grandpop asked.
More laughter, “No, not by a long shot. Working week to week like most people.” The tall fellow said.
“If everybody got a million tomorrow, including you, what would you do first?”
“That’s easy.” The tall fellow pointed out the window. “First I’d get rid of my old car and buy a brand new Mercedes, then my girlfriend and I would take some time and go sightseeing.”
Grandpop sat up straight with a concerned look. “I see. Where do you reckon you’d buy that fine shiny new Mercedes?”
“Oh I know just where.” He winked at his friend. “Mercedes-Benz of Tysons Corner. I’ve been window shopping for two years now!”
Grandpop nodded, then raised an eyebrow. “There might be a problem there.”
“What?” The tall fellow looked surprised.
“Well ya see, young fella, the dealership won’t be open anymore. The salespeople, mechanics and office staff are all millionaires too. Everybody’s got all the money they need. Why would they bother to come and work? There’s no reason. No incentive. Nothing to work for.”
Grandpop stood, settled his hat on his head, picked up our check, and theirs. “You see, young fella, when you rob someone of their incentive, you rob them of much more than that. You steal their dreams too. Everyone has their own dreams and reasons for doing what they do.” He paused and leveled a sincere look at the two well dressed men. “Is life fair? Or as you question, even? Of course not. But you can’t make it fair by replacing dreams with easy. Have a think on that, on your way back to DC.”
Gitty Up ~ Dutch Henry