Friday, December 05, 2008

The Drunk Call

     I got a drunk call last night. Or at least I think it was a drunk call, because the person on the other end wasn't talking or acting like herself, so I am chalking it up to that. Plus, it was such an abrupt, out-of-the-blue phone call about such an out-of-the-blue subject that I can't imagine what else brought it on. Let's start with a little background info, shall we?
     I know lots of Katie's and one Katy. Since I know so many long ago I took to attaching adjectives to their names in order to tell them apart. Katie Danger. Katy Fireball. And Katie Geography, so named because we worked our way through the geography program at school together. We graduated and moved away and went our separate ways but we have always had this amazing ability in our friendship to not talk to each other for months and months and months and then pick up right where we left off when do come together again. It's like, we could not speak for four months and then one of us would call the other one and it's like it always has been. It's pretty cool and it's a testament to our friendship I would say. So to get a call out of the blue was not unexpected.
     But it was not like a normal Katie Geography telephone call. Very abruptly she announced "I do not make $70 per hour, I do not show up drunk to work, and I do not have 150 hours of vacation." Well I know that dear. You make more like $20-something per hour, you get drunk after work, and I have never seen you take a vacation day. So what's the big deal? I know you are not a lazy, slothful slacker. Why are you telling me this? Why am I telling you this? What is going on here?
     Katie Geography works for General Motors. She puts struts on Pontiac G6s and Chevrolet Malibus. So if you have one of those vehicles and have problems with the struts then you need to talk to her. But she likes her job on the assembly line and is good at what she does. Which is cool. But all this bailout and bankruptcy talk has her spooked. And I don't blame her. I would be shitting my pants every day when I pulled in the parking lot too; expecting to see padlocks on the doors and my worthless paycheck floating away on the breeze. But she was out with some guys from the tire shop (there is a tire shop at the GM plant where she works) and they were having a few after an odd and crazy day (hence my belief that she was drunk calling me) but she was a little upset about some of the things she has been seeing in the news and she wanted me to spread the word for her.
     So here is the deal: I am writing this today in service to my good friend Katie Geography. I am not going to get technical, I am not going to get political. I am not going to take a stance one way or another on the ongoing bailout talks, because it doesn't matter what your feelings or mine are on the issue. She just wants the world to know that regardless of what you are hearing on the news the bulk of people at GM, or at least those turning wrenches on the assembly line or squealing tires in the test facility or crunching numbers up in engineering are normal, hardworking, proud people like you or I. They don't make exorbitant salaries and fly around on the private corporate jet. They don't take months off every year to spend in the Virgin Islands. They live in neighborhoods like yours and mine, commute to work with you and I, and live the basic American life. I have known my fair share of people who have or still do work for the auto companies and they are not fat cats. They are everyday people. And that was the point that she wanted to get across.
     Sometimes in life, we have a tendency to place the traits and values of leaders to all the people who they represent. The members of the football team are often given the characteristics of the coach. The people in a family are assumed to act the same way as the patriarch or matriarch does. It's important not to fall into that trap as you go through life. Just because the coach is rough around the edges doesn't mean that the backup tight end isn't soft spoken. Just because Granny Hatfield is pious and giving doesn't mean that Junior isn't making meth in his tool shed and selling it at high school football games. And just because the people in the offices at the top of the RenCen are living extravagantly doesn't mean that Katie Geography on the assembly line is bathing in champagne and carrying caviar and crackers in her lunch box. It doesn't work that way. And it important to remember that.
     So don't judge a book by its cover. And remember that just because it's leather bound doesn't mean the pages aren't still made out of paper. It will get you far in life. Do you see this? Do you see what has come out of one simple drunk call? It's amazing the turns that life will take. And it's amazing what can come out of an innocent drunk call. So thanks Katie Geography for giving us all an important public service reminder. God knows we need it sometimes.

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