A Cinecle View – Sue’s Crusade, Part 2: Mightier Than The Sword (and the Toadies)
A little over a year ago, my father, who is just barely on the non-explodey side of the “Ted Kazinsky” line when it comes to technophobia, discovered text messaging … and quickly became addicted. Usually his messages are your typical, garden variety missives about his part time job, what he’s watching on TV, or what celebrity he’s currently crushing on.
But on Tuesday, May 23rd, 2017, I was working from home fine-cutting some interviews for the video I’m currently producing when he dropped some breaking news on me that I’d been awaiting for over a week…
Though I already knew about his thing for Halle Berry – because EVERYONE WITHIN EARSHOT KNOWS ABOUT HIS THING FOR HALLE BERRY – the news of my mother’s anti-Toadies manifesto being immortalized in black and white by Lancaster Newspapers was energizing.
Seconds later, my phone rang.
“Hi. I just wanted to let you know that they published my letter.”
“Yeah, my dad saw it today and texted me to let me know.”
“Well, I picked up 12 copies so that I could give one to you, one to the manager at the store, and a few for the others in our group …”
Uhhhhh … What now?
“Yeah, I was telling some church friends what happened and several of them had similar stories. One woman said that her elementary school-aged daughter just started using words that they don’t use in their home. When they asked her where she learned those words she said her ‘school bus driver’s radio’. A man in the group said that the songs they play in the warehouse at his job made him feel uncomfortable but neither the company HR department or his union would do anything about it. Another women said that the rap music at the (REDACTED) store made her feel so dirty that she showered when she got home. I’m not alone in this.”
I was lost in thought, imagining my mother Stark-ing up her own Audio Avengers, when she yanked me out of my daydream.
“I’m on my way to (the grocery store in question) now to give the manager a copy of the paper and ask if he’s spoken to his corporate office, can I stop by after to tell you what happened?”
“Absolutely, but I have a prediction …”
“What’s your prediction?”
“He’s going to say in the nicest, most polite terms possible, ‘Go away, Crazy Lady.’”
“I’m fine with that. I’ve got a letter to corporate ready just in case.”
I went back to my footage parsing and waited for her to arrive.
Less than half an hour later, my mom was parked in a chair in my living room regaling me with an epic tale of battle.
“I walked into the store, found an employee and asked her to get the manager. She got a funny look on her face …”
As she continued, I imagined a Wayne’s World transition to the grocery store …
STORE EMPLOYEE: Oh … okay. Just to warn you, we’re doing inventory today so he’s kind of grumpy.
The store in question is in a weird nexus of okay and… not so okay neighborhoods. It attracts employees that, if their customer service skills are any indication, have a dubious relationship with accuracy, urgency, and giving any sort of a shit. Like Randall Graves sans the whimsy. Couple that with what I’m certain is a number of customers averse to paying for things, and you can probably extrapolate how the manager’s inventory count was working out for him.
STORE MANAGER: Hi, I’m glad that you came back. I spoke with corporate and it turns out that each store does have control over its own music playlist so I’m going to remove the song. It probably won’t be today because we’re taking inventory, but I will remove it as soon as possible.”
MY MOM: Oh … Okay … Do you want a copy of my letter to the editor?
STORE MANAGER: Nope, no need, the song is going to be removed.
MY MOM: Oh … okay … thank you.
Back in my living room, I congratulated her on removing .0000001 of a penny from the Toadies ASCAP and BMI checks.
“Cool! Instead of ‘Go away, Crazy Lady,’ you lucked out and got ‘With how hard corporate is going to rip my ass when they see this inventory, the last thing that I need is my store being ground zero for a PMRC reboot – highlight Possum Kingdom and … DELETE’. Good job!”
Sometimes, the path of least resistance truly is mightier than the sword.
She nodded with a vacant, almost dissatisfied smile.
The next day as I was walking out of my office in Baltimore, my phone rang.
“Hi … I decided that this isn’t right. I need you to find (REDACTED)’s corporate address for me so that I can send them a copy of the newspaper and a letter that I wrote to their board. This isn’t about one store. That song shouldn’t be played in any of their stores.”
A heaviness set into my chest and all of the muscles in my neck, back, and face tightened as I was hit the realization that my mother was about to go to war with (REDACTED)… and I was going to be on their side.
Or rather, the side of personal freedom.
TO BE CONTINUED
Tony Marion is a writer and filmmaker who splits time between Lancaster, PA and Baltimore, MD. He lives for the work of Descendents (the band), Chuck Palahniuk and Rian Johnson. Check out the digital embodiment of procrastination he calls his website here.