• Richard Scrimger

it's protest time!


I don't get many chances to take an ethical stand. No one has ever tried to bribe or threaten me into acting against my principles. Galileo tortured for the sake of scientific truth, Serpico the honest cop, all those suffragettes and conscientious objectors and union agitators and Christian martyrs --- they make for gripping stories, but not ones I can relate to personally. Shaw talks about the world as a moral gymnasium built expressly to strengthen your character. Well, mine is pretty flabby.

Fortunately I am able to live my life through my children. Sam has an ethical dilemma right now, and it's so exciting I can hardly stand it.

He decided, after several weeks, that working midnights at the gas station and never being held up at gunpoint is boring and tiring. (No, that's not the dilemma. Wait. It's coming.) He investigated other summer job options and, behold, an opportunity arose at the local yacht club. I don't quite understand the job, but it involves driving around in a golf cart and being polite to yachters. It pays better than the gas station, and doesn't involve night work. Sam called me after the interview yesterday. They like me, he said, but (here it is!) they want me to cut my hair.

Isn't that great? A classic 60's confrontation. Sam is a polite young man, really good at looking you in the eye and shaking your hand, but he is, well, flocculent. He's skinny, and his hair is long and dirty blondish and quite wooly, so that from a distance he resembles an ambulant floor mop. Management at a yacht club tends to be on the conservative side of conservative. (You can tell a rebel at a yacht club party because his blue blazer doesn't have a crest on the pocket.) They don't want their fresh-painted buttoned-down golf cart driven by a hippie.

So what should I do, Dad? he asked me. Youth requesting guidance. Self-doubt and inexperience prepared to absorb the wisdom of years. Moments like this are why you become a father.

I think ... it's protest time! I said.

What?

We'll get banners and signs, and picket the place. Yacht Club Unfair. How does that sound? Or Navigate -- Don't Discriminate! Ooh, that's a good one. I'll call the press.

Dad? You're kidding, right?

2, 4, 6, 8, sailors we don't need your hate! Is there a railing in front of the yacht club? Maybe you could chain yourself to it. A great photo that'd make.

I started humming, We Shall Overcome. He hung up.

They say you shouldn't work out too hard your first day. Maybe that's true of the moral gymansium as well.

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Richard Scrimger | scrimgerr@gmail.com | Toronto, ON, Canada