What our Coronavirus and riot-plagued world does not need is even more pointless intolerance. There’s no excuse for not using a modicum of civility when dealing with others, especially in the workplace. It doesn’t matter how bad a day you’ve had. Do you know how bad the day of the person you are working with has had? Did you ask? Did you even think about him or her as a person?

We have all been living through the tensest, most frustrating, angst-riddled period since the Civil War. With the way things are going, we could be rerunning the Civil War soon.

In my 40+ years on the TV news trail, I’ve been verbally assaulted by every kind of minority. I understood it was part of my job. Many people seemed to figure it was okay to shoot the messenger.  Early on in my career, I was warned to have thick skin if I wanted to succeed.

That thick skin was tested many times. I was taunted by Black people who called me Uncle Tom or house boy. Labeled by religious fanatics who called me a Christian stooge. Feminists who tagged me as chauvinist. I sucked it up and plowed on to report the facts.

The gasoline bays.

Facts usually silenced my assailants who then wrote hate letters in red crayon.

My good stories were balanced by controversial reports that fanned the flames of ill-tempered people. I probably made it worse by writing the haters “thank you” notes. It further angered the wankers. Civilians who have never worked as journalists are surprised by how often people behave badly toward people who are merely trying their best to do their jobs.

Uhaul for the haulers

So it was that my stepson came home with a story that sounded painfully familiar. Owen manages a local garage which does repairs, inspections and has a mini-mart. He’s known for his work skills. pleasant manner, and humor. He manages to be cordial in the worst of scenarios.

Yesterday, Owen was in the middle completing one job when he was besieged by a man who jumped out of his Mercedes demanding instant access to a Uhaul truck.

Owen tried repeatedly to pacify the agitated fellow, explaining he would not be able to get his Uhaul for a few more minutes until he finished the inspection on which he was working. The customer not only refused to accept any waiting but left his car so it blocked all the gas pumps. When asked to please move his vehicle, he launched into a profane tirade topped by the ever-popular race card.

Owen is white. The angry one was a man of color.

Given several volatile national stories, this local incident had the makings of getting serious. The indignant Mercedes driver was sure the “race card” would pay off.  It almost always works. Owen has heard numerous stories about racism from his step-father (me) who specialized in covering race riots and protest marches dating back to MLK and the Freedom Rights movement. Thanks to his parents and stepdad, Owen is more than typically sensitive to anything that smells of racism.  We joke about it at home — but that’s a different story.

Today’s potentially race-toxic incident was defused by Owen who stood his ground and convinced the angry gent to leave the shop and take his business elsewhere. Eventually, the ante was upped in include a full volume and very firm suggestion that he leave and never return. No Uhaul for him.

Owen in the shop

The race card didn’t end in a riot or even police intervention. Owen is of the opinion that the fancier car he or she is driving, the more arrogant and mean-spirited is the driver. Especially those who drive Mercedes’s and BMWs.

Owen is my step and godson. I’m proud of him. He’s made of stern stuff. This country could use more of him. Way to go, O!

Categories: #Photography, Anecdote, Cars and Trucks, Customer Service, Garry Armstrong, Humor, Relationships

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31 replies

  1. Yay for Owen. Those situations can be tough to diffuse, as you well know. He did well.


  2. Brave Owen. But then, he’s a big guy – I would die of fear of such a intimidating monster.
    I’m glad that you have such a wonderful relationship with him. You’re all holding together which is so important in these times.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. No reason to tolerate bullying behavior from anyone – good for him

    Liked by 1 person

    • Beth, yes. Too often the bully gets away with bad behavior. In today’s, “PC” culture, the bully takes advantage of people choosing not to stir up more trouble. We have the Oval Office Bully whose intimidating behavior knows no boundaries and sets the tone for other miscreants.
      Good for Owen!

      P.S. I have my own personal bully tale. Junior High School, ’55. The bully, still remembered. One Fiorello Marino — picked on little Garry Armstrong who was “4 eyes” with huge hearing aids. Fiorello picked on li’l Garry one time too often. Garry, with instructions from Dad, ducked under Fiorello’s wild swing and ducked the sucker with a sharp lefty punch. Winnah and new school yard Champ: Li’l Garry. No rematch.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Very well put, Garry. And well done, Owen! A**holes and bullies come in all shapes, colors and political persuasions. Not easy at all to firmly hold the line.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. There’s that money card being played. I’m glad Owen stood up to the guy.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Leslie, yes. The race card begets even more hatred and nothing is accomplished except more hatred. I tried to expose it at every turn when working. Sadly, it nullifies civil rights gains.
      And, not just race. We saw a program the other night where the gender card was played. Same result as the race card.
      I can understand if not support folks who play these cards out of pure passion to overcome injustice.
      I cannot abide the cynics who use these cards for political or financial gain. They are the LOWEST and they always attract followers who are blinded by their rhetoric.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Good for him. Standing his ground and not giving in to intimidation

    Liked by 1 person

  7. You’ve put into words, far more eloquently than I ever could, what I’ve been trying to say with the plethora of ranty posts I seem to end up writing, no matter how good my intentions at the beginning. Bravo Owen. Bravo to you too, Garry, because (to me) you are the example today’s young journalists and news reporters OUGHT to emulate. A little sugar goes a whole lot further than a glass of vinegar, but few (me among them) seem to remember that old adage and use it. I’ve learnt one thing over these sixty years though – you can push people so far, but there usually is a saturation point. A line in the sand. If you cross it, you’ll lose. Whether it’s a U-haul or a war. Given the world right now bullies are being less and less tolerated and entitlement is never acceptable. I’m going to re-blog this post. I think more should read it!

    Liked by 1 person

    • In this case, a cup of TRUTH poured directly down the throats of people who think Orangehead is one great guy. Until he comes for THEM! I don’t know whether I want more years to make sure this ends without total annihilation or fewer, so I don’t live to see the dystopian horrors that lie ahead,


    • Melanie, I’m so very proud of Owen.
      I’m gritting my teeth as I hear the local yokels praising Donzo for his promise of “..angry dogs and the wrath of our military” to diffuse protest marches and demonstrations. Donzo, the idol of bullies and miscreants everywhere. I sputter as Orangehead puffs, “MAGA likes colored people”. He’s probably watching the cartoon version of “Birth of a Nation” with CC.

      Donzo was probably sucking lollipops and other stuff during the 60’s, the Civil Rights Protests and burning cities that almost ripped this country apart for good. I was there and didn’t want to see a repeat in my lifetime. MY BP is spiking.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Owen has had a very unique growing up experience. His father was a very mature level headed white guy, and a great friend to both Garry and myself. Now Garry is having the honor of being both friend, stepfather and, in the past, God Father to Owen. I’m sure Owen appreciates his duality in experiencing views from these two sides of humanity rolled into one life.., and he has chosen respect for people over unfounded conflict. He is a rich man far beyond some of his narrowly focused race mates.

        Liked by 2 people


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