Bad Barry … bad, bad Barry
November 5, 2006
I think I might be a bad person. Because when I heard the news that Pastor Ted Haggard was outed for doing both meth and a male prostitute, I instinctively did one of those head-bowed-drop-down-on-one-knee-while-reverse-pumping-my-clenched-fist-and-saying-“yessssss” moves that are usually associated with triumphant sports moments. I’m not a big sports fan, so I only get to do this move when homophobic evangelical leaders take a big tumble down Mt. Hypocrisy. Sadly, this doesn’t happen nearly enough, leaving me a bit out of shape for this victorious move, and I think I may have pulled something.I also think I might be a bad person.Because if I were a good person, my heart would go out to the guy, right? If you break it down, this is merely a case of job conflict, and who among us hasn’t experienced similar situations before?Many years ago I worked at Sam Goody. It was a good gig – part time, decent pay, got to listen to music all day long, and got great employee discounts. Alas, I only lasted six weeks before everyone involved (including customers) agreed that me and retail were not a good match.Several times a day someone would walk in and ask me if we had that one song, the one they are playing on the radio all the time.”Which song?””You know, that one,” they’d say.What could I do but stare and wait?”That one about love,” they’d continue.”Sing some of it for me,” I’d say.”No, no, no – come on, you know the one I mean!”This would continue for a while, while other customers with equally vague requests began forming a line, waiting patiently to annoy me.”Oh, I think I know exactly what you’re looking for,” I wanted to say, then quickly pull the CD I’d made – the self-titled debut by the fictitious band called “F*** OFF!” – from beneath the counter and hold it very close to their face.See? Job conflict. Instead, I had to say things like “sorry” and “thank you.”Then there was the guy who wanted to know if we carried combination Walkman/FM radios. (Yes, this job was THAT long ago.) Nope. Sorry. All we sell is what’s on the rack, and there doesn’t appear to be such a combo unit there. “Oh! That way I’m forced to buy two of them, right!?” he yelled at me before storming out.Now, at that moment I wanted to say, “Yeah, dude, you got me. Because even though I’m a twenty-something Sam Goody clerk who has yet to figure out how to enter exchanges and returns into the cash register, the R&D department at Sony calls me weekly to ask my advice on how they can more effectively screw the consumer.”Instead I had to say, “Thanks for shopping at Sam Goody’s.”I realize that’s some pretty small-time when it comes to on-the-job moral conflict, but it was obviously enough to drive me forever from the world of retail sales.Now imagine poor Pastor Ted. Here’s a guy who’s landed a pretty cool job. He has the ear of President Bush, he has money and power and really white teeth and is the leader of a group of 30 million people. Granted, he has to hang out with evangelical Christians all day long, but there has to be a bit of give and take with any gig, I suppose.Here’s the rub: After a full day of preaching fear and intolerance, what Ted really needs to help him unwind is to snort some meth and have some gay sex. If he were in a different position – a Sam Goody employee, for example – this would be no big deal. But, as it happens, his chosen field of employment just happens to frown upon such things. Total drag.So I should feel bad for the guy, right? Have some empathy, perhaps? His internal conflict and strife is the tragedy of the human condition – the perpetual wanting of that which you can’t have. Yet instead, I find myself high-fiving total strangers and squealing with delight.Because I’m a bad person.Rather than apply for Rev. Haggard’s now-open job, Barry Smith prefers to keep his job as a columnist at The Aspen Times. He can be reached at email@example.com.
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