Clueless in Tampa

Back in the late Spring of 2003, I was locat­ed in Tam­pa for two-and-a-half months for busi­ness. While there, I had a great deal of time to catch up on read­ing and, for what ever rea­son, decid­ed to spend it on polit­i­cal sci­ence books. While pick­ing up a cou­ple of books at the local Barnes & Noble one evening, I was being checked out by a woman who looked to be in her mid for­ties and who appeared to be per­fect­ly sane, at first:

“Hey, those seem like two great books! We don’t get too many peo­ple buy­ing these down here. I’ve nev­er heard of this one, but I like the title: The Emerg­ing Demo­c­ra­t­ic Major­i­ty.

“Yeah, I read a piece by one of the authors, in The Nation, I think, and I thought this book seemed inter­est­ing. It’s most­ly wonky, sta­tis­ti­cal stuff, though.”

“Well, we need some­thing to turn this coun­try around. That oth­er book (The Con­science of a Lib­er­al: Reclaim­ing the Com­pas­sion­ate Agen­da) by Sen­a­tor Well­stone is sup­posed to be great. We’ll sure miss him.”

“Yeah, he was a great man.”

“I just can’t stand this cur­rent Bush admin­is­tra­tion. I did­n’t real­ly like Clin­ton because he could­n’t keep it in his pants, but he’s a male and your all that way, so I just have to be under­stand­ing. But these peo­ple are just despi­ca­ble.”


“My hus­band and I worked on the Nad­er cam­paign in 2000. We real­ly helped to get a lot of peo­ple inter­est­ed here in Tam­pa.”

“You live in Flori­da and you worked to get peo­ple to vote for Ralph Nad­er?”

“Yes, I think he’s some­body who real­ly could help Amer­i­ca.”

I prompt­ly dove across the counter and stran­gled a per­son who, along with her hus­band, might have for­ev­er ruined my beloved coun­try. Okay, that part’s not true at all. How­ev­er, you can imag­ine the per­son­al restraint on my part to resist such a com­pul­sion.

“Hey, ______ (can’t remem­ber names, don’t want to), are you going to talk that guy to death or check him out. He’s just stand­ing there with a blank look wait­ing for you to hush and ring him up.” says the lady at the next reg­is­ter, unwit­ting­ly not­ing my defense mech­a­nism.

“Oh, of course. Sor­ry about that. It’s just nice to see some­one who thinks the way I do.”

“Uh-huh.” (!?)

She pro­ceeds to ring me up for my two books and I walk out, think­ing how I final­ly met one of those wacky moon­bats that Rush Lim­baugh is always going on-and-on about and just astound­ed at the fact that she was sure she’d found some kin­dred spir­it in me. I kept look­ing over my shoul­der for the Kick Me sign that was sure­ly taped on there.