Monday, February 22, 2016

Is a man who is working as an Uber driver at the age of 45 surely better off dead?

Like most of us, I have no idea, yet, why Jason Dalton went batshit crazy and randomly gunned down six people (in addition to the wounded) in Kalamazoo. But for the sake of argument, I go back to a post I put up a few years back about Neil Allen Smith, the Crab Shack dishwasher who was nailed by a hit and run driver and left to die, and whose death was met with one of those anonymous and awful Internet comments "A man who is working as a dishwasher at the Crab Shack at the age of 48 is surely better off dead.".

Perhaps, fewer Jason Daltons would go off the deep end, and fewer Neil Allen Smiths would be left to die, if their lives were valued. My grandfather, an Italian immigrant who, according to my grandma, jumped from an Italian merchant ship and landed in the New World, found satisfaction in having a mundane blue collar job in a Chevy plant. Of course, back then, line workers were unionized, if not valued, and they put product out the door. In the case of that Tonawanda, NY plant, big Chevy engines that went into Corvettes were their prized product. With the paycheck from that job, Grandpa built a house a little south of Buffalo and had an acre of land he could farm after getting home from the assembly line. I learned gardening from him. Grandma had a basement canning factory that lined the walls of that basement with canned produce every fall. What finally brought Grandpa Mike down was not hard anonymous work, or even being forced to retire from GM in his sixties (he promptly found another job), but cancer. He flicked in his own life when his body gave out and he could no longer work his ass off. Did Mr. Dalton lack my grandpa's self respect and quiet fortitude, or have times changed? Beats me.

While the politicians and spokespeople for the pro and anti gun movements go on blathering, or as the late Associate Justice Antonin Scalia would say, engaging in argle-bargle, the Neil Smiths and Jason Daltons go on dying or doing things that are really stupid and deadly. I see no end in sight.  But I did really enjoy Scalia on the Supreme Court, even when I was cussing him out. One has to respect intellect. But one has to respect middle aged Uber drivers and dishwashers, too, and not just with empty platitudes.

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