Wednesday, December 12, 2012

A New Definition of Desperate?

Last Thursday I got a call from someone in the security department at my bank. He was calling to tell me my debit card appeared to have been stolen, as it was currently being used in Georgia. A quick check of my online banking page showed a $6.27 charge pending from Chick-Fil-A in Decatur, GA. The bank guy said they would remove the charge, send me an affidavit, and issue a replacement card. It's been nearly a week and I'm still waiting for my replacement card, but that's not why I'm pissed off. What really chaps my ass is when I stop and think about the chain of events that led to my card being used for a fast food purchase in another state.

First off, there's the actual act of someone appropriating my debit card. Since 90% of my use of the card doesn't require it to ever leave my hand (i.e. swiping it at the grocery or gas station), the opportunities for another human to see, and write down, my card number, are limited primarily to those few times we dine in local restaurants within a few miles radius of our home. What I find particularly troubling is that this same thing happened to Jim last year, twice. In this most recent case, and in those other two instances, we had dined at a certain restaurant on Shawnee MIssion Parkway just a few days before our card numbers got stolen. So, we kind of think we know where this all started. (And yes, we will probably go back to that same restaurant again, but we'll definitely pay with cash from now on.)

If the card number was stolen during our last trip to said restaurant, how does that work, exactly? Did our server write down the number when she went off to the back with my card and our bill? If so, then what happened?

I suppose the dishonest server would have had some financial incentive for stealing my card. In other words, she had to be getting paid a little something for lifting it from me. That means she had to give it to someone else, who would presumably validate the card, and pay the thief a small bounty for its appropriation. So now my card number is in the hands of someone with both the intent and the means to issue a new, fraudulent card to another person, in this case, to someone in Georgia.

Did that person in Georgia pay for their new debit card ? If so, did it cost more than the price of that Chick-Fil-A sandwich they subsequently bought with it? Because that's the part that I can't get my brain around. Why in the world would someone risk arrest, prosecution and imprisonment for a fast-food chicken sandwich? Admittedly, Chick-Fil-A is a tasty, if sometimes controversial, choice for lunch, but I can't understand the logic behind paying for that lunch with a stolen card.

If I was hungry - truly, really starving, I mean - and if I had no other means to obtain nourishment, I might resort to theft. For starters, I might shoplift some groceries. In fact I probably would. But it would have to be a matter of life and death. I would first have to assess my situation and determine that the only option left for my continued survival would be to steal something to eat. BUT IT WOULDN'T BE A FUCKING CHICKEN SANDWICH FROM A FAST FOOD RESTAURANT. If I am ever driven to a life of crime, it's going to be spectacular. Like, I'll be on the news and stuff. Because that's what it would take. I'd have to be desperate, and in my desperation, I would do desperate things.

What's desperate about this, though? There is a person in Decatur, GA who felt that it was entirely okay to buy fast-food chicken with my debit card. The line between law-abiding citizen and potential felon was breaded and deep-fried and served with some dippin' sauce.  If they had bought 20 or 25 sandwiches, I might think, "Well, maybe they had a bunch of hungry kids and they needed to feed them fast." But the charge on my card was only six bucks and change. That's maybe a combo meal. How fucked up does somebody have to be to decide that the lack of ability to purchase fast food is enough justification to steal?

Thursday, November 29, 2012

More proof the world is ending on 12/21/2012

Today I went to Hy Vee for lunch (for those of you who don't live in a rectangle state, Hy Vee is one of the local grocery store chains here). I wandered into the "Health Market" section to grab a kombucha, and on the way I stopped at the Zum Bar display. (Zum is a brand of soap and body care products produced by Indigo Wild right down the street in Kansas City, MO). There, among the fragrant, all-natural soaps, lotions, potions, candles and bath salts (not the crazy, face-eating kind- the regular bath salts), I saw a small clear spray bottle with a silver label called "Zum Bum."  A closer inspection revealed the following:

"Need to unfrump your rump? Zum Bum is the bidet in a bottle. Splash a dash on some t.p. and wipe those unfreshies away with this untainted product of witch hazel and pure essential oils. It's a breath of fresh derriere."

So… it's ass spray. Who am I to judge?

The worst part, though, is that the front-most bottle of Zum Bum on the shelf had a white sticker labeled “TESTER.” And the bottle was about half empty.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Glad That's Over!

This morning I had a weird Facebook moment. I was scrolling through all the post-election flotsam when I saw where one of my friends had posted a great quote from Thomas Jefferson: "I never considered a difference in politics, in religion, in philosophy, as cause for withdrawing from a friend."

Isn't that a completely appropriate sentiment after such a divisive, close and emotional election cycle? Since I'm personally pleased with the outcome of last night's election, I had to repost Jefferson's quote on my Facebook wall. Maybe it would be conciliatory towards all my right wing friends who posted things like "We're f-cked!" and "All I can say is God help us all." They seemed to be taking Obama's re-election rather hard, and I don't want to gloat, because in 4 years I'll most likely be the one all bummed out the morning after the presidential race concludes.

Then, continuing to scroll through more posts, I saw this little gem, from a guy I sorta knew back in high school: "I don't care who won the election, America should get on its knees and repent and turn back to God."

I had to read it a couple of times. Then I had to see who "liked" it, while deciding if I should respond to such a ridiculous statement. I never even got as far as typing a reply. Instead, I just defriended the guy. Case closed.

But... not really. See, there's that Jefferson quote about not withdrawing from a friend. In so doing, I've fallen quite short of the ideals of true acceptance and unconditional love that God - that still, quiet voice inside that never steers me wrong, if only I'd remember to listen to it - is constantly trying to instill within me.

It was during the 1992 presidential election that I first became aware that many people who looked a lot like me- young, white, gainfully employed Southerners - didn't share my political views at all. At the age of 27, I considered myself a liberal Democrat, although I had never been particularly vocal or active in any political movement. My parents were (and still are) hardcore Republicans, and to this day I can't figure out how I turned out so different from them, politically. Meanwhile, I guess I assumed that my extended circle of friends and close coworkers were probably in about the same place I was, and would be voting for Clinton that year. I found out differently when, after making some offhanded comment at work about how I was looking forward to sending George Bush home on Election Day, I got an earful from a young woman who sat next to me, and who was highly offended by my liberal views. She might as well have revealed herself to be a pod person from "Invasion of the Bodysnatchers." I suppose she felt the same way about me.

Now that I'm 20 years older and wiser, I'd like to say I've always been a mellow, laid back, live-and-let-live kind of guy. But that would be a lie. Back in '92, I thought less of that woman who chewed me out for being a liberal and for the first time ever, I started to have an "us versus them" worldview. I could no longer ascribe my political views to some sort of generational "default setting." I had to question my own beliefs, and compare them to the beliefs of my peer group. Why did she feel so angry towards Clinton? Why did I want to vote for him? Was it that sax solo he did on "Arsenio?" I hoped not. I finally decided the reason I leaned left was because I'm gay, and liberals in general were more accepting of gay people. Although I'm loathe to be labeled or treated a certain way because of who I am, I came to the realization that my orientation informs my political beliefs. Even after reading Ayn Rand, and loving it, I've never been able to get excited about any Republican running for any office, although I'm probably getting relatively more conservative in my middle age. I seriously considered voting for McCain in 2008, but then he picked that running mate. This past year, however, I was rather impressed with Ron Paul, and decided that I would vote for him if I had the opportunity to do so.

I really understand how my conservative friends feel after Romney's defeat. I felt the same way in 2000, and again in 2004. Without getting into a debate about it (because what would be the point in that?) I believe in my heart of hearts that Republican operatives stole both of those elections, and for 8 years, I couldn't even look at my television whenever that smug, smirky idiot appeared on the screen without feeling a shudder of cold revulsion.

Beliefs cause all kinds of trouble, but we're wired to have them, I guess. Picking a presidential candidate primarily by his stated position on issues of importance to the gay community (whoever THEY are), is probably not the best way to do it. But then, it's never really about one issue. The anti-gay candidates tend to be anti-woman, and often are anti-everybody-who-isn't-an-old-angry-white-dude, too. I just can't hang with that, even if I do feel conservative in fiscal matters. I won't attempt to defend my choices, except to say that I can't ignore my conscience. When voting day rolls around, and I'm in that booth with the curtains drawn, it inevitably comes down to social issues.

Oh, and there isn't a booth, and there are no curtains to draw. In Kansas we vote using a little console on a shaky metal stand, with plastic privacy wings.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Outraged and Offended… over chicken?

It’s easy for me to know my position on the issue of same-sex marriage. If it was legal, I would propose to Jim immediately. Hopefully he’d say yes. We’d have a small ceremony at our church, or maybe just a civil service with a few close friends in attendance. I’m not concerned about whether or not someone else's understanding of the Bible (or any other religious text) condones my relationship. If any book, or institution, or person challenges my right to be happy, joyous and free, I’m not the problem - they are. I do not desire to spend any of my time or energy on people who would prevent me from living the life my Creator intends for me. That said, I very much support Chick-Fil-A president Dan Cathy’s right to walk his own spiritual path, even though I may not understand or agree with him.

Today over lunch I was on my way to the gym for some cardio when I got stuck in an unexpected traffic jam. The line of cars turning in to the Chick-Fil-A parking lot reached back a good half mile. In front of the restaurant, the crowd of people waiting to walk in stretched all the way out to the edge of the parking lot. I used to go to that Chick-Fil-A occasionally, but I stopped because every time I ate there, I got a terrible case of heartburn. That bummed me out because I really like their food. Of course, that was before this mess.

When I saw the throngs of people rushing to “appreciate” Chick-Fil-A, I wasn’t thinking about how tasty their food is. I was thinking about Ryan, the young man who always seemed to be running the drive-through when I used to stop there for lunch. Ryan is a gangly teen who greets his customers with a big smile full of braces. He is polite and attentive, and he never screws up my order. In other words, he is an exceptional fast food restaurant employee. If I trust my gaydar (and in this instance I do), he also happens to be gay.

I wonder if Ryan was working the drive-through today. How would he feel to find himself face-to-face with a crowd who, at least in part, was there because they don’t believe he is as good as they are, or that he deserves the same rights and privileges they take for granted?

Dan Cathy and his family are reported to have donated something like five million dollars to vehemently anti-gay organizations. Mr. Cathy maintains that he supports the biblical definition of “family.” If I truly cared at all how the Bible defines family, I’d look it up. But I don’t, so I didn’t. That definition doesn’t apply to me, so I’ll just have to live according to my own values, which I believe were placed in my heart by God. I do wonder if Mr. Cathy realizes that right now, working in his restaurants, even in his own family, there are gay people. We are everywhere.

But it’s not that simple. This isn’t about Chick-Fil-A being anti-gay, although it’s pretty clear there’s some of that going on. It’s also not about Dan Cathy’s First Amendment rights, which are most certainly being trampled on, at least according to Drudge and Fox News. This is about how being offended and expressing outrage have completely replaced any meaningful public discourse when we, as a society, are faced with an issue as complex as same-sex marriage. What does all the shouting really accomplish? Did any minds get changed today? Do they ever?

When I hear that cities like Boston and Chicago are trying to block Chick-Fil-A from doing business there, I worry. That’s not how we do it in America, and it’s dangerous to think it’s justifiable, just because we don’t like what someone else said. Dan Cathy can spend his money the way his conscience guides him to. So can I. We should all be doing that anyway. But here’s where I squirm a little: I haven’t spent a single dime on any marriage-equality efforts. I haven’t put my own money in service of what I believe is a very just cause. Posting snarky comments on Facebook is fun and all, but it really doesn’t do much to counteract five million dollars. What about the other businesses I patronize, about whose philanthropic efforts I know absolutely nothing? Before I get too fired up about Chick-Fil-A giving money to anti-gay causes, I should probably take an inventory of how and where I spend my own money.

As a gay person who would certainly like to get married, I hope Dan’s side loses this one. When Ryan, that kid at the drive-through, is older and ready to settle down with his special someone, I want him to have the same rights and choices that straight people have. I hope he thinks about the day in August when the full moon and the intense heat made everybody go nuts over something that should’ve been a no-brainer, and I hope he laughs about how silly we all used to act.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Where's the old DFB?

Apple's ditching Mobile Me, and I let my Apple-hosted blog, Deep Fried Brain, get a little soggy, so I decided to scrap it and start fresh over at Google's Blogger service. We'll see how it goes...