It is before 7am here in Olympia and I’m up early. The sky is a hazy purplish grey that is obscured by a thin misty spring rain. The sound of crows and distant commuter traffic is interrupted every few minutes by the beeping and hydraulic whirring noises of garbage trucks. It is light out, but dim. The sun has not quite risen yet, and judging from the vapory look of the cloudy sky we might not see it at all today.
Few people awake at this hour are in a good mood. Those wearing smiles are most likely still up and coming down from whatever drug it is that kept them up this late; probably some sort of speedy hallucinogen like LSD or ecstasy or some new-fangled pharmaceutical that quack doctors prescribe to the 4th grade children of nouveau yuppie parents that pay top dollar for recycled containers, drive Honda Elements, and have otherwise “gone green.”
Most of the people up at this hour are most of the people in the country. They are the “work force” of America, if you will. These people have long forgotten what it’s like to sleep past 10am. They wake up before the sun, and in the winter months drive home after dark. Most of them have gradually become numbed to the sting of waking up early. They don’t think about the reason for the groggy frowns they wear, and god help us if they ever did. If that fateful day ever came the vast majority of the population might see how futile their actions really are in regards to their own well being. They might stop pushing papers for insurance companies and brokerage firms. Doctored photographs of ethnically diverse models may never get photoshopped onto blue envelopes full of coupons to be endlessly stuffed into mailboxes around the country. Memos and leaflets updating staff to the trends of politically correct corporate jargon might never get distributed. People everywhere might all of a sudden realize that it makes no difference at all what Mary Kate Olsen is wearing or what Miley Cyrus thinks of Obama.
And if that day comes then you’d better watch out, friend, because that will be the day that they break out the big guns. The day this sleepy ignorant populace opens their third eye and stops doing all the mindless and stupid shit that keeps those 25 white guys who own everything calling the shots will be the day that Abrams tanks roll through the streets of every major city in America. There will be a curfew announced through bullhorns and enforced with rubber bullets as they zip through clouds of nerve gas. The powers that be won’t hesitate for even a second to focus the Eye of Sauron on this nation’s citizens, especially if they stop pulling the levers that make the machine work.
All this, of course, is only setting up the backdrop for the real rant and rave. Anyone who has ever read anything I have written in the past already knows where I stand on things like politics, religion, and our philistine culture, but that doesn’t mean I won’t shove it down your throat again. If there is one thing I absolutely understand about human nature and American culture specifically, it is that redundancy, however annoying, is effective. Hershey didn’t get to be a household name by not blaring constant commercials at us much the same way as AOL didn’t merge with Time/Warner by not flooding our mailboxes with startup discs in 1997, the year of the Ox.
The real point of all of this is that I am up early- very early for me, for reasons that I can’t explain. Sometimes my body is just done sleeping and when that happens I don’t see any reason at all to fight it. That being what it is I am still not a morning person. I rarely see the hour of dawn and on those mornings that I do it is usually a signal for me to hurriedly finish my beer and get the fuck into bed before it’s too bright in my room to pass out properly. So on these rare days when I am up and about at garbage time I need things like coffee and bagels.
And those things are precisely what I sought out this morning. I put my pants on and left the house bound for the local neighborhood bakery where I had every intention of buying fresh bagels and cream cheese. When I walked through the wide open door of the brightly lit establishment I was greeted by no one even though several people were scurrying about doing baker-type things. It wasn’t until I had walked across the room and taken the cream cheese from the refrigerator that a fellow with a stupid indie rock beard and wearing the tight black uniform of a Northwest leftist/anarchist/post hippie type finally took notice of me. It took him a second, seemingly, to muster up the wherewithal to tell me in his passive/aggressive way that, “Um, sir, the bakery’s not open for another half hour.” What he meant was:
Hey weirdo, what’s wrong with you? Get the fuck out of here.
I was a little surprised, not by the semi-rude greeting, but that a bakery wouldn’t be open by 6am. My response was equally passive/aggressive.
“Oh,” I said, “I’ll come back later.” What I meant was:
What do you mean you’re not open? You’re a fucking bakery. I’m trying to give you money shit-for-brains.
Of course I wasn’t going back. I’m never going back. I hate that place and everything they represent. The San Francisco Street Bakery in Olympia is a monument to everything stupid and backwards about the neo-leftist ineffectual pseudo counter-culture. They do everything half-assed. They not being open after 6am is one grain of sand in the beach of things that that place does wrong. They are rude, slow, snooty, pretentious, and to top it all off they are terrible bakers. Their breads are hard and dry, their desserts are sandy and tough, their soups are bland and boring, and their hired staff is unknowledgeable of their products.
I can recall a specific instance when I and my girlfriend at the time went in for a sandwich despite my urges against it. It was mid-afternoon and we were the only customers in the place. There were four or five workers milling about, some behind the counter directly in front of us. Even though we had been standing there for minutes and were obviously ready to order they seemingly ignored us and opted to focus on menial tasks like changing the trash bags or counting the money in the tip jar. I of course expected this sort of lackadaisical treatment from the backwards scenesters that work there and had resigned myself to not get involved. Megan, on the other hand, seemed stunned. She shot me a drop jawed look of disbelief, but I only shrugged. Eventually she took action and got the attention of one of the employees, a poorly groomed girl that looked to be about 20 years old.
“What can I get you?”
“I’d like a bagel sandwich please.”
Megan knew what she wanted. She had crafted her order based upon the chalkboard menu that was posted in plain view and advertised “bagel sandwiches” along with the available toppings and their respective prices.
“What kind of bagel?”
She went into it. After all she had had plenty of time to make up her mind.
“I’d like a garlic bagel with pesto cream cheese, sprouts, tomatoes, and onions.”
The dirty girl just kind of stood there as a sort of melancholy washed over her. It was nearly a minute before she kind of looked around sheepishly and replied with, “well, I guess I could cut some onions…”
Even I, as familiar with their practices and suitably jaded as I am, was taken aback by this gross display of ineptitude and laziness. The San Francisco Street Bakery had hit a new low. Megan was appalled.
“Yeah. Why don’t you get on that.” She said with obvious impatience.
Eventually, and it took some time, Megan got her sandwich and we left that horrible place not to come back for a long time.
A business so inept on every front could only exist in Olympia, and even then sometimes it doesn’t last. There used to be a bagel joint downtown next to the Café Vita called Otto’s. For years they ran unchallenged as the only place you could get a bagel downtown. They operated in a similarly cavalier fashion as the San Francisco Street Bakery. It was work to go there. You had to physically muster up the gumption it was going to take to run the gauntlet of sighs and eye rolls that you knew you were going to get from the staff after waiting in line twenty minutes to order a bagel and a cup of coffee. My circle of friends and I had a running gag that one day one of us would open a bagel shop right next door to Otto’s and call it “Faster Than Otto’s: Now With Less Attitude!”
In its last few months of operation someone must have noticed that business was declining as a direct result of their uppity rudeness and the place actually started shaping up. But it was too little too late. A few short months later Otto’s closed its doors forever and now there is no place to get a good bagel in Downtown Olympia.
It is this same backward ethos that seems to be the backbone not only of Olympia in general, but the whole of the leftist movement. There is a pervasive attitude among the liberal types that they are owed something by the world and that any act of responsibility on their part, no matter how menial, is somehow doing you a favor. I’ve seen this same thread running throughout nearly every aspect of the so-called progressive movement. This vile hypocrisy when combined with a complete lack of organization and self-motivation form a self-destructive and corrosive compound that’s stench is so pungent and overwhelming it is no wonder that they lose every political battle they get into. It is the reason I can’t stand going to the Co-op or the Farmers Market. It’s the reason I inwardly scoff at all the black house kids. It’s the reason I’ll go out of my way to avoid the pockets of bums that collect in certain designated spots downtown. It is their failure and it is a shame.
It is a shame because deep down their core ideals are inherently correct. This capitalist system is completely fucked up. There is injustice everywhere you look. The balance of power is completely lopsided and kept that way by a tiny sliver of a percentage of greedy monsters that maintain their strangle-hold on all of us by brute force, fear, and deceptive trickery. There are so many aspects of our society that are so obviously wrong and easily correctable yet maintained just to keep a very few malignant organizations intact.
They are right to want to topple the structure, but they miss a very acute and important point. You can’t fix something by tearing it down. Destruction is destruction period. The only thing that could justify tearing down the entrenched structure and fighting through a violent and bloody war to get there would be if there was something better to replace it. So far these same people that shout from the sidelines about “anarchy” and “revolution”; these same people that protest police by smashing windows; these same bums that get indignant when I don’t hand them my money and cigarettes for no good reason at all; have displayed time and time again that they are incompetent jack-asses that couldn’t run water from a spigot let alone a complex and intricate society.
The so-called anarchists, that paradoxically seem to fall in line and adopt a credo more than most straight-laced people, would be the first to get royally fucked by the disintegration of the society they so vehemently trumpet against. What they don’t seem to understand is that society is not keeping them down so much as it is propping them up. Where else but America could a bunch of shitheads with facial tattoos and bones in their ears who stink and have scabies get away with smoking cigarettes and drinking beer all day without ever earning any of the money that they come across? If the revolution ever actually does happen, these dumb suckers will be the first in line to be used as meat shields by the vicious and barbarous villains that their hated society protects them from.
In the end I got my bagels and cream cheese from Ralph’s, the right wing overpriced grocery store that is run by goofy bible thumping Mormons. I may not agree with their politics, but their lines move quickly and if I need something they don’t make me feel like I’m putting them out by asking. Politics may be entrenched and woven through everything, but they’re nothing I need to flavor my breakfast.