Remember the annoying gym guy I blogged about a while back? The one who thought Scotland was in England and that Glasgow was a new breed of cow? (If not, read here.) Well, he struck again today. Or, more aptly, I almost struck HIM.
Today's topic was the Governator's desire to put all state workers in California on minimum wage, while we wait for the Democrats to compromise their values significantly enough that the few Republicans in the state assembly will actually get out of the damn way and approve a budget.
(No bias there, as you can see. In reality, I'm more frustrated with the system than the players. The whole 2/3 rule is ludicrious and proven to be completely bloody ineffectual.)
But, as usual, I digress.
Today's almost-altercation happened when I overhead gym-guy butting into someone else's conversation - as, we have established, he frequently does, to assert his "knowledge".
There were two women on eliptical machines chit-chatting and one of them brought up Governor Swarzenneger's plan. The other woman had apparently been livinig with her head in the sand because she had no idea what any of this was about (sigh) and so her friend began to explain. Her explanation went something along the lines of "It's not the state workers' fault and it's not fair to punish them." Amen to that. All good so far.
Except that's when gym-guy chimed-in (stopping long enough from trying to yank his back out using terrible form on a rowing machine.) "Ahh... they'll get it back, though," he said dismissively. "The state will pay them back once the budget is passed."
"Let's hope that's good enough for the mortgage company," the woman said politely, and I almost high-fived her.
Aparently this was of no concern to gym-guy who continued to poo-poo the effect on state workers. "For sure there will be more hardships," he said "but they'll get it all back at the end of the day."
The women went silent, which is when I almost crossed the room and gave the man a verbal smackdown. He is the epitome of everything that just drives me crazy about some American's attitudes to government workers and the well-being of others. I've been criticized for having a lack of empathy in my time but this guy, and others like him, take the biscuit. I wanted to ask him how he would feel if his employer suddenly said that his pay would be cut to just $8.00 an hour.
Just to provide some perspective, at $8 an hour that's just $320 per week for a full-time worker (40hrs/wk) or $1,280 a month. A number which wouldn't even pay half of my mortgage payment and likely not gym-guy's either, barely pays the average rent for an apartment in Sacramento ($960 2 years ago), let alone somewhere like L.A. or Orange County, and is equivalent to a salary of just $16,600 - a figure which puts the state workers at below the poverty threshold for a family of 3.
Given these realities, the fact that a state worker will get their involuntary loan paid back to them at some point, is neither here nor there. What matters is that, in the meantime, many of them will not be able to make mortgage, rent, or car payments right now. All of which is hugely helpful in this economy, right? Although the right-wing like to consider state jobs as somehow "fake", the reality is that people who earn money (from whatever source) pay taxes and spend money - both critical factors in an economic recovery for either the private or public sectors.
So, back to gym guy. He was close to a tongue-lashing from yours truly about how thoroughly insensitive, discompassionate and callous his dismissive attitude is to the welfare of others. Fortunately for him, I'm on a time-clock when I'm at the gym and didn't have time to devote to educating him.
I see it coming down the line, however. The man irkles me no end. It's not just what he says but the superiority with which he says it. He needs to be taken down a peg or two and one of these days...