Blog Your Blessings: Ed at the Diner

We've had catastrophes around here that have left me waxing lyrical about the amazing ways nature heals its wounds and that people bridge the gaps that these catastrophes create with kindness and warmth.  And all that.

Not this time.  To wax lyrical now would be to paper over the yawning gaps in the story of why so much of Connecticut is shivering in the cold tonight, a week after a freak storm, because Connecticut Light and Power has failed to restore power.  To wax lyrical now is to forget that our governor, Dannel Malloy, who has the unfortunate habit of treating public employees as freeloaders and criminals (simultaneously), did not pull it together after Hurricane Irene and come up with a realistic and effective disaster relief plan that would keep the citizens of this state out of harm's way at the next natural turn of events.  

When the lights went out last Saturday, they stayed out for countless thousands of us because Connecticut Light and Power (CL&P) had not paid the countless out-of-staters who bailed us out after Irene.  Why come back?  We ask this question of the governor who is not huddling by the fire, is not preparing meals by the fire, does not sleep by the fire, does not sleep in everything he owns to stave off hypothermia....  And we know the governor cannot answer the question because his own actions have shown that he has no respect for the citizens of Connecticut--and less than none for the citizens of this state who seek to serve the state by working for it at the state or local level.  I am talking about prison guards and teachers, basically. I am speaking up for myself as a teacher.  If Governor Dannel Malloy thinks we're trash, why should the guy in Chatanooga, Tennessee, who works for the electric company, take the ride?  Following the governor's logic, we're not worth it.

There's no waxing lyrical here.  But Tuesday's coming, and we who have turned blue in the cold of a neglected Connecticut whose highest elected officials treat us like beasts will feel the difference when polls close and the math is done.  For those whose day of reckoning will be another election day, we of the frozen toes will be there to remind you that you do not own us.  Quite the other way around.

But enough. I don't want to sound like one of those ultra-conservative AM radio haters.  I will now wax lyrical about Storm Alfred and the hell it delivered to Connecticut.

On Monday, when cell service was knocked out and land lines were equally useless, I went to see my parents in Newtown to make sure they were OK.  I stopped at the diner to get them some coffee, and there I met a man named Ed H. who used to work with my dad in the phone company (when it was called The Bell System).  He mentioned that most of  Newtown was out of power and that he was stunned by the lack of presence of the CL&P on the roads because when he worked for the phone company, it wasn't like that.  He said, "Guys helped each other out.  One guy would always help another guy, and we were visible.  What I liked was being a part of that and being a part of something that helped people."

"What I liked was being a part of that and being a part of something that helped people."  Feast on this quote for the meal it is.  Savor every word.

This gentleman spoke with an old-school Connecticut accent and described a time I could remember, when the phone guys got together to share meals or go for picnics together or to paint houses.  I remember as a kid going out with my dad on a Saturday or two and watching him climb telephone poles to restore service to someone or countless someones.  Being able to do that required a combination of strength and intelligence and commitment and self-respect.  I say self-respect as I type this at 11 p.m. because I think to take your daughter in the truck and have her watch you do what you do is to say what you are doing is so well worth doing.

And here's an aside.  It's the bologna story.  About the time my dad installed phones in the house of a family whose youngest members fried bologna by dangling it into the toaster from a fork.  Dad took those kids to a diner for a meal.

That's what you do.  You feed people.  You take care of them.  Governor Malloy, for whom I voted but now wish I hadn't, this is what you do.  You hold yourself accountable, and you take care of people.  Hand-wringing does not count.  You show up and you feed people and you keep them warm.  As a matter of pride and a sense of decency, you do it at every cost.

My dad went on to become a union representative and then to move through the ranks of the union to become its president for his own sake as well as the sake of his colleagues.  He believed he deserved to reap the benefits of his labors, and so did his buddies.  It was that simple.  He worked for people he knew and loved.

Were it only that simple for the governor.  He might believe the people of Connecticut deserve to enjoy the fruits of their labors in the form of warm homes and stoves that create warm food.  We're not asking for much.  We want the homes we work for to be homes we can live in as we pay our bills and our taxes in good faith.  Return that faith, governor.  Hold the electric company accountable.  Serve us that we might again be Connecticut.   Be worthy of Ed at the diner.  Be worthy of my father.

Comments

  1. No wonder you regret your voting choice Sandy. That's quite a story. But one that's been repeated with variations, far too often. The old days, the old ways...the handshake that sealed the deal etc...I like to think there are still people like that.And from your story, that was the bright spot, there still are those too.

    Stay warm my friend and a better week ahead, G

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  2. Sandy, Thanks for your sweet comment--I appreciate it. I'm so sorry about the miserable situation you and your friends and neighbors are in. The weather can certainly deal us a "bad hand" sometimes. It is sad that the government does not take more responsibility (and action) sometimes to help citizens out with their problems. Your father sounds like a warm and caring person with a wonderful attitude and spirit-I'm sure you looked up to and admired him greatly. Take care. Mickie :)

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  3. Unfortunately, this is a story that is being repeated more and more all over the country and it is the people that we have, unfortunately elected in good faith, that are turning many parts of this country into a hell hole! I'd like to think we could make things better by voting these people out and replacing them, but who can guarantee that, once in office, they'll do any better??? Forgive me, I'm afraid I'm becoming a real cynic when it comes to politicians on either side! Hope you have a warm, dry weekend! Look for the beauty, that's the food for the soul!

    Sylvia

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  4. Very well expressed, Sandy. I'm sorry that there's been such a lack of concern for those of you who are in the dark and in the cold. It's disgraceful.

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  5. I have done a lot of genealogy and I have looked into how unions and started and why they are so incredibly important. In my city, there were coal mining disasters that killed men by the hundreds. In one explosion over 148 men were killed. The Asian men were simply given names Chinaman 1, Chinaman 2, Chinaman 3 etc. The surviving family members were given nothing. Nothing.
    My mom and dad worked during the 80's and at one of the best times for unions. They both worked in unions. My mom, who did not graduate high school and worked as a cashier and made almost a 50% higher wage than I make now 20 years later. She received medical, dental etc. She would have received a pension if she had lived.
    What the hell has gone wrong? I live in poverty. Unions are a thing of the past. My employer own multiple cars, a cabin on the lake, go on vacations, have season tickets to sporting events. I can't afford food.
    What the hell has gone wrong, indeed.
    You have seen the movie, "It's a Wonderful Life". George Bailey said it best,
    "Doesn't it make them better citizens? Doesn't it make them better customers? You... you said... what'd you say a minute ago? They had to wait and save their money before they even ought to think of a decent home. Wait? Wait for what? Until their children grow up and leave them? Until they're so old and broken down that they... Do you know how long it takes a working man to save $5,000? Just remember this, Mr. Potter, that this rabble you're talking about... they do most of the working and paying and living and dying in this community. Well, is it too much to have them work and pay and live and die in a couple of decent rooms and a bath?"
    Anyway, I hope and pray that things will change and my kids will have it better than I.

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  6. Hi there - there seems to be some sort of problem with governments all over the world - our whole debate in Australia has come down to name calling and claiming that each party will do the same as the other - but for less cost! Some choice!

    We have a whole generation of kids here who think that being involved in politics of any kind is for old folks and pocket liners - that’s not a good situation!

    And on that cheery note I'll sign off!

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  7. You know, the same happens up here. Before the gas companies cared about people and never dreamed to cut them off in winter if they were behind with the bill payments and today with computers, you pay for you and joe, who you don't know.
    Joe has heat and you don't, because Jo .....is you. ????Computers are good but they are not the people who put the info into them
    They are so easy to mismanage and the companies don't care anymore because too much of this stuff is going on.
    It pays to be self sufficient.
    No one cares if you get mad. So don't get mad.
    Get even.If every one cut their services with these agencies, they would lower the costs and make sure every one got them.Same with cars. They buy out all the companies and then there is no competition and unions don't work anymore. If you don't want to pay they sell to someone else.Today we think we elect government to govern us but they can't, because control has gone global. Gas and electric companies don't have to do anything.They are not accountable to the people.They could have an office somewhere rich and hot and be outside legal jurisdiction.
    So laws have to be passed that only local companies do business with local people.

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  8. a weel expressed write up..

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  9. it seems we have lost track of common sense and good old fashioned values in our modern society...right on!

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  10. Luckily, the power never gets cut here and after storm is quickly restored.
    Sorry for your trouble and the frustration.:(
    xoxo

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  11. Give 'em hell Sandy!

    Your Dad is a good man. We can't be running out of his sort so soon, can we? Something's wrong in the cultural when we stop making good people.

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  12. Wow. I would never expect Connecticut to go through such a hardship due to mismanagement and uncaring officials.

    You state your point so well. Hope things get better soon.

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