People can be SLO rude
In SLO we are a casual people that scoff at formalities such as using turn signals.
Imagine how I felt when the bum, who was quite fat actually, not only refused my fries but knocked them aside with his grubbies.
By Duane Hagabee
In SLO we have a good attitude about life. We wear an outward expression of gratitude for our rolling green hills, unique downtown, excellent restaurants, and breathtakingly smogless weather. We are a casual people that scoff at formalities such as conventional introductions, stuffy clothes, hurrying, or stress-related behaviors such as using turn signals. To behave in such a way, to wear the dreary existence of typical city life would show a real ungratefulness and be, in a word: rude.
I never had reason to be concerned about rudeness in SLO until this past Holiday Season when, during a time of cheer and goodwill toward men I started to sense an undercurrent growing in the very community I was born and raised in. It started the day before Thanksgiving, at the Madonna Plaza. We had just finished a family outing to Best Buy and I decided to treat my beautiful wife Bethany and my six kids to McDonald’s. While we ate, I spotted outside a Homeless American sitting up against a newspaper machine. He was speaking to himself through a grubby beard while gesturing with hands pitch black from dirtiness. Being that the Holidays are supposed to be a time of forgiving those who trespass against us (i.e. sleeping on benches and scaring your kids) I decided to reach out, and to the delight and awe of my family announced that I was going to give the man something—not the boring dollar bill that everyone gives, but half of my extra-large (Super Sized) French fries.
If you are a father of a boy you can imagine how I felt going up to the man with my young sons Tad and Tanner trailing along. As their hero and role model, they looked up to me to show them the charitable responsibilities that as men of SLO they will one day bear. Well then, imagine how I felt the very next second when the bum, who was quite fat actually, not only refused my fries but knocked them aside with his grubbies then groaned and pointed to a cigar box by his side that read “Plese Help” before going back to blabbering to himself. You see what I mean? Rude. Something kids don’t need to see around the Holidays.
But the homeless weren’t done humiliating me and my family. The very next day, determined to show my kids what true SLO compassion was, I loaded them all in our Ford Expedition EL for a new family tradition I had decided to start. We Hagabees would begin volunteering at the homeless shelter for the annual Thanksgiving dinner so the kids could see what it was like to feed street people for a day.
Well evidently it’s not only the homeless that are rude, but also those that work with them. For I, a local business owner was stopped at the door by a social worker-type who told me there were too many volunteers already—more people serving food than there were to eat it. At that point I would have normally felt a sense of community pride, but it’s kind of hard to feel anything but degradation when you are standing in front of a g-d homeless shelter with your family on Thanksgiving Day, your collective thumbs-up-your you-know-whats, while all the volunteers inside the shelter are looking at you through the windows like you are second-class citizens. Then, amongst the hefty SLO bums sitting at tables feeding their faces (all of whom I recognized from downtown panhandling incidents), whom do I see but the one who’d refused my fries at McDonald’s. He was going to town on a turkey leg, really gagging on it while shoveling globs of stuffing into his face, still talking a mile a minute to himself. Boy, he really had it out for me, didn’t he? Making people look silly seemed to be his forte. Also, can someone tell me why the SLO homeless are so plump? They don’t look to be starving.
All this rudeness from the homeless got me thinking about other forms of rudeness I’d been a victim of, and took me back to the times I’d treated the kids to McDonald’s after family outings. The help it seemed, refused to pronounce simple phrases like “one-forty-nine is your change sir” in clear English. No matter what your change was they always mumbled something like : “foty-niney-twunny” which must be as close to forty-ninety-twenty as they can come – the only three numbers they know maybe. You’d think, with their minimum wage about to go up in 2008 that they could learn to mumble a few new words. But no, your change could be a twenty-dollar bill and what do they say? “Foty-niney-twunny.” Ask them if you can have extra pickles and “foty-niney-twunny” is what you get. Ask them where the bathroom is and they point and mumble “foty-niney-twunny.” Then, in Espaniel they tell their hombres in kitchen staff to spit in your Big Mac.
Just a few days before Christmas came the clincher. That was the day I knew we had a problem with rudeness in SLO and I had to write something about it. I was at the intersection of Higuera and Chorro, about to make a left turn because I had to drop some last-minute Christmas cards off at the post office, when down the street, near the Firestone Grill, I spotted a postman gallivanting my way. Full of the Christmas Spirit, and thinking not of myself, but how I could simultaneously free up USPS man-hours and downtown parking while also making a 3:30 p.m. tee time, I stopped the Expedition in the intersection and waved down the mailman. He took a while getting there, hunched over like he was, either out of shape or lazy—that was OK, I wasn’t in a rush and the light was still green. I asked him if he might take the few cards and he agreed and waited while I began addressing, sealing, and stamping the last of them. There was a honk behind me and thinking someone had recognized me, I turned to the long line of cars and smiled and waved. The driver was in a work truck so he may have laid some concrete for me in the past. But after I unloaded my cards and took off, he honked again and in my rearview I saw that he was not waving, but flipping me his middle-bird. Then another driver followed suit. That is how rudeness starts—with just one Scrooge. The next thing you know, you have an entire county that is nothing but R-U-D-E, rude.
Alas, it is not only strangers and the working class that can be rude. Sometimes the rudest people can be your own friends. Couples that Bethany and I dine with rarely pass up a chance to brag about having a little black kid in their family though they know that Bethany and I have been trying to obtain one for quite some time. I have even made it public in my articles. That doesn’t stop our “friends” from rubbing it in every chance they get. Over the holidays, I can’t tell you how many dinner parties we went to where whole walls of houses were devoted to pictures of a mulatto niece, nephew, or illegitimate grandchild. Then at the dinner table, you can’t get through a meal without them bragging about how they love their little black so-and-so just as much as their other…blah, blah, blah. Whoopdee-freakin-do. They think they are so much better than you.
Even family members can be rude to each other. I have snapped at Bethany several times during our 20-year marriage over things like letting her weight get out of control, when we have an agreement to keep her at a size six. I have, a time or two, come home early to find her elbow-deep in a bucket of chicken and a tub of potato salad, which is a form of familial rudeness. You see, everyone is a little inconsiderate from time to time and Bethany and I are no exception. But you know what? We work at our relationship in couples counseling, for preventative purposes.
That doesn’t give people the right to be rude to public figures just because they don’t know them and don’t like the balanced truth they write about. In each of my articles I just try to advocate the simple, casual SLO Life, and what do I get for my efforts? I get some Bay Area transvestite going around in the last issue of The Rogue Voice claiming to be my long lost brother, probably wanting some blackmail money. Sorry. Duane Hagabee does not reward rudeness, and it might behoove this dragon-queen to remember that I golf with some of the finest attorneys on the Central Coast that with one scratch of the pen can (after a DNA test) have this man, woman, or whatever it is, on trial for extortion.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying I’m perfect. Duane Hagabee has been known, perhaps in a moment of negligence, to say something rude. For instance, as a reader informed me in the last issue of The Rogue Voice, I have been inaccurately referring to the New Times as a Christian paper. Well, I researched it and it turns out the reader is correct, and I apologize. The New Times is my favorite paper, and the best-written paper in the county and I do not want to offend them. At the same time, I can’t understand why a paper would not want to be known as a Christian paper if it could be. Just like I don’t understand why Christian farmers and Christian electricians wouldn’t want the endorsement of Jesus, who was the Son of God. I would certainly like to get the phone numbers of any such electricians or plumbers because quite frankly I am getting tired of staring down the heathen butt-cracks of the ones I have now. And if the Central Coast truly is the Bible Belt of California, why don’t we use it in our media more to promote tourism? I will make a couple phone calls.
The same reader that pointed out my oversight against the New Times showed her own true brand of Atascadero rudeness by insinuating that she knew more about writing than me. It is a typical mistake of amateurs to think that people want to read about other peoples’ “experience” and all their deep, dark secrets. Ever heard of J.K. Rowling and a little thing called “Harry Potter?” She made it all up in her head and, except for the Bible, it is the best book ever published, and has been proven so by its sales. And furthermore, it is rude of anyone from Atascadero to tell anyone from SLO how to interpret literature, when the most popular reading material up there is the Easy Ad.
It is also rude to imply that Santa Cruz is more diverse and tolerant than SLO. If your idea of diversity is 14 percent surfers, 14 percent drug addicts, 14 percent beggars, 14 percent drug-addicted beggar-surfers, 14 percent raccoons, 14 percent trash, and 14 percent Oakland gang members trolling the Boardwalk trying to hit on my wife and my oldest daughter then OK, you win. Santa Cruz is your cup of tea. No taboos? What about their taboo against bathing? Not the cleanest people in the state.
And to claim that there is no ethnic food in SLO is blatant rudeness. I almost went through the roof when I read that one. Soul food is plentiful at AMPM’s and 7-Eleven’s where there are wide selections of pork rinds and malt liquor. Thursday night Farmer’s Market is a rib-eaters dream. Canned beans and instant rice can be found in any of the dollar stores throughout our community, and organic, locally grown spinach can be substituted for greens.
Isn’t it equally rude to suggest that Pakistani food is better than Indian food? Are some people too good to eat at the Indian restaurants we have in SLO? The two countries share a border so why can’t they share food? If it is simply curry one is after, one may go up any street with motels on it around dinnertime. I smell it all the time when I drive down Monterey Street. Just go to the front desk and hold out a bowl.
As far as Yoga being excluded from public school curriculum, I must admit ignorance, as my kids attend private school. But I can attest to the benefits of Yoga, a form of spiritual exercise that was originated in Malibu in the early ‘70s. My Bethany has been a student for years and her newfound flexibility has (without going into detail) enhanced our sex lives, making intercourse more pleasurable for me. Quality sex relaxes me and allows me to better focus on the business of keeping our community economically vibrant. So I agree there are benefits to Yoga, though I wouldn’t count on it coming to Atascadero any time soon.
I hope this article has been an eye-opener for my fellow SLO’ans. It is further my hope that in 2008 we can get back to our roots of kindness and politeness—that the homeless, the workers, the Pakistanis can all pitch in and try harder to assimilate. Then again I have my doubts. The day after New Year’s, after some of us had made resolutions, I was downtown at a four-way stop when I spotted that man again—the homeless one who thought my fries weren’t good enough for him. He was approaching the crosswalk and even though I was late for a luncheon at the Embassy Suites, I waited for him and waved him through. But the ingrate just shook his head and said no. Even when I tapped on my horn and smiled and invited him again to cross, he refused and began screaming at the skies for me to leave him alone and just drive. So I got angry. I yelled out the window that he was very rude for not crossing. That’s when I saw a friend of mine, Jim, a fellow broker that I was about to lunch with, also at the intersection in his Escalade, watching the whole thing. It didn’t make me look very good. §
Duane Hagabee is a model SLO’an, a principal in Hagabee, Hagabee & Hagabee, who writes a regular column for The Rogue Voice to offer our readers a more “fair and balanced” view of Central Coast life.