What have you meekly acquiesced to, and then regretted it? (This series began with "
(Part 5 of a series)
by P. Orin Zack
"No, I don't mind," Althea Gordon said. She spread her arms and looked down in amusement at her signature pink overalls. "They're actually from the first welding job I had after I changed careers. Well, before I started using my torch to make art, anyway. The foreman there was such a chauvinist that he wanted the rest of his crew to know where I was at all times, lest I injure one of them."
Her questioner, a twenty-something in designer jeans, gestured with the sunglasses she was holding. "But if the guy was so concerned, why did he hire you in the first place?"
"Oh, I'm sure that if it had been a few decades earlier, he wouldn't have done it. But as it was, he didn't have much of a choice. The company had just put some bids out on government contracts, and I don't think he wanted the EEOC on his neck about violating anti-discrimination laws."
"So you bought the overalls to rub his face in it?"
"Rub his--?" she said, amused. "No, that's not my style. He bought them. In fact, he had three sets specially made for me, so I'd have no excuse for wearing anything else. The foreman wanted me to be painfully visible at all times, so the rest of his crew could keep clear. I think he was afraid I'd toast someone's buns with my torch when he wasn't looking."
A wave of laughter swept the crowd, but the woman didn't join in. Instead, she calmly put her glasses back on and said, "So, did you?" When Althea didn't immediately respond, she added, "Look, I've enjoyed your presentation, and I'd like to help out. Is there something I can do at the new community center you mentioned?"
"Undoubtedly. I'll be heading over to Kendrik House when we're done with this. Come on by, and we'll see what we can do. By the way, what's you name?"
She smiled. "Dori."
"Great. I'll tell the others to expect you."
Althea Gordon and city councilman Buster Flange were standing on a little stage adjoining the food court at Carson's Cloister, a quirky mall owned by the man who had offered the local Occupy Wall Street community a vacant building site for as long as they needed it. Buster was wearing the same ill-fitting sport jacket that he usually wore to city council meetings. The two were at the mall this afternoon to drum up support for Buster's proposed change to the city charter.
It was the councilman's turn to field a question, so he pointed at a man leaning against the corner of the Thai food vendor with his soda cup raised. "You had a question, sir?"
"I do, Councilman Flange," he said, taking a few steps closer. "I read your op-ed in the morning paper."
"Thanks. I wasn't sure anyone bothered to do that any more. What can I tell you?"
"Well, I have to admit, sir, that your plan to create a new district for yourself out of thin air is pretty gutsy -- genius, even. I mean, after all, you have managed to alienate just about everyone in the district that you represent now."