January 20th, 2005

How Can You Be in Two Places at Once

Not One Damn Whatever.

I had a friend in high school, M. Dave, who was Mormon. Great guy, twisted sense of humor, and upholder of the various rules and regulations that govern the daily Mormon life. He abstained from alcohol, caffeine, and other "hot" beverages, he refrained from using profanity and blasphemy (which meant that when he wanted to cuss you out, it was done so with hilarious euphemisms such as "Go to BED, you JERKY!") and, in a nod to other orthodox religions, he refrained from working on the Sabbath.

There was one Sunday when a gang of us were all hanging out downtown and decided to go for some Dunkin Donuts. When we got to the store M. Dave announced that he wouldn't be able to get a donut, but wouldn't mind hanging around with us while we ate ours.

"Why can't you get a donut?" someone asked. M. Dave replied "Because I can't work on the Sabbath, and I can't make someone else work for me either. So I can't buy a donut because I'd be making the guy behind the counter work." (The guy behind the counter seemed to be grateful, the slacker.)

"Well, what happens if your car breaks down and you need a mechanic?"

"That's okay. It's a case of the Ox Falling In The Ditch. If your ox falls in the ditch on Sunday and you have to get him out, well, you have to get him out."

"But you're hungry, right? Your ox is in the ditch and it wants a donut."

"Nah, I'm okay. I can wait til dinner. And oxen don't eat donuts anyway."

With that flippant remark, the gauntlet had been hurled and the challenge begun. We all began throwing out scenarios and examples, anything to get around these religious guidelines and let M. Dave have a donut. It became a grand blasphemy crusade and he deftly worked around all our ideas with a combination of Mormon dogma and good ol' American knowhow.

Finally I asked if I could buy the donut myself, then give it to him as a gift. He shook his head.

"That'd mean that you made someone work for me, and I couldn't in good conscience accept the donut that way." So then I threw a donut down on the table and stared at it.

"DAVE! There's a DONUT HERE on the table! I have NO IDEA where it CAME FROM or WHO MADE IT! I bet NOBODY WOULD MIND if you took it while we ALL LOOKED AWAY!" M. Dave then raised his voice as well in a wacky parody (this ended many fine conversations around the lunch table or outside yard.)

"GREAT! Let it ROT! I don't WANT that STINKY donut!"

The time for rational discourse having ended, I picked up the donut and began to chase him around the place with it, hollering "YOU WILL EAT THE DONUT! YOU WILL EAT THE DONUT!" while he hollered "YOU FOOL! GO TO BED! GO TO BED!" in return, and that's when the slacker dude behind the counter asked us to leave.

So I hear today there's been planned a protest, on the occasion of Emperor George II's second ascension to the throne of the Holy American Empire, to not spend "one damn dime" and see exactly how messed up the American economy will get (honestly, kids? Not very.) It's one of those perfect non-committal protests, as it sure is real easy to "protest" by sitting at home, not spending any money, and then writing self-satisfied messages on LiveJournal about how you sure socked it to those fat cats in Washington today (Current mood: SMUG! Current music: STUFF I DIDN'T PAY FOR!) The arguments have already been made on how this kind of blanket protest can negatively affect the small local businesses that we should work to protect and keep solvent because George II doesn't care for them in the first place. So the discussion on one intelligent and well-reasoned LJ community turned to the ox in the ditch (when they were finished expounding the same "If you ain't fer us you're agin us" mentality that is despised when it comes from the other side.)

One poster asked about buying T tokens, since she was going to work. She was told that while it was discretionary (ox-in-the-ditch), some people were avoiding this all together by not going to work today.

So hey, it's a double-punch of slacker goodness right there sock in the jaw of Mr. and Mrs. Red State USA, and all you have to do... is nothing. When I doubted (and I admit doing so with profanity and a "rock on, little rocker!" at the end) the usefulness of this move, our dogmatic little friend advised me that the time not working and earning pay could be well spent "doing volunteer work, organizing a protest, writing your congressman, or spending the time in other politically active ways."

Which is great, only I hope you don't mind walking to the outreach center or wherever it is you're needed. I hope they don't need anything from the store while you're around, and I hope you reminded any utility companies that may auto-bill you that today might not be such a good day to do so. I hope you procured all your food well in advance, and I hope nothing unexpected comes up that doesn't involve oxen getting stuck in a ditch, and and and and...

And I guess what I mean to say is that I think most of the knee-jerk participants in this protest, the ones who aren't thinking this through all the way, would make really lousy Mormons.

Some forms of individual protest are subtle yet effective -- turning webpages black to protest the Exon Bill, remember that? A nice way of showing your support. But to do something so insular as to just not spend any money -- with no outward way of showing this short of, again, smug LJ posts, especially when it could very well come at the expense of people who really do need the business, well, I just don't like it. There's gotta be a better way to do this.

But now is not the time for me to think, unfortunately. I have to go drop NINE DAMN DIMES into a MBTA bus and go riding to my job. And maybe get a donut while I'm at it.