An Encounter with Senator John McCain

I never cared for Senator John McCain


(Photo by William Thomas Cain/Getty Images)

because he was a Republican, and Tricky Dicky Nixxon was a Republican. John McCain was also a member of what has become known as the “Keating Five.” McCain was even called “The Most Reprehensible of the Keating Five.” (https://www.phoenixnewtimes.com/news/mccain-the-most-reprehensible-of-the-keating-five-6431838)

Yet there he was running for the office of POTUS. I thought even less of him when he chose Sarah Palin to be his Vice Presidential running mate, for obvious reasons, as everyone now knows. He sunk even lower after the encounter which is detailed below.

After the election, which he lost, my thinking began to change because of comments he made about his opponent during the election. Chris Matthews,

on his MSNBC show, played a video I had not seen previously a short time before Senator McCain’s recent death. I have tried, in vain, to find the video, which could have been from the Al Smith dinner, on the internet, but this one, which I had previously seen, was located:

This, in the final analysis, is the measure of the man, a good man who made mistakes, and admitted making them. Although I did not care for his politics, in the same way I did not particularly care for the politics of my Republican Mother, with whom many political discussions were held over the course of our life. I have come to feel we, the Senator and I, could have discussed politics with both of us coming away with respect for the other, even though we disagreed on many issues. One learns, and grows, upon listening to the ideas of others, even if one does not agree with those ideas.

Senator John McCain was a war hero. Because he was the son of a prominent former Navy Admiral, John McCain, after being captured, was offered early release by the North Vietnamese. He refused. Senator John McCain was an honorable man. It has galled hearing the clearly insane man who now occupies the highest office in the land, Donald PoppinJay Trump,


(Photo by Andrew Renneisen/Getty Images)

make disparaging comments about Senator John McCain. PoppinJay Trump demeaned himself while attempting to demean Senator John McCain. The Trumpster did not serve his country because he had a “bone spur.” Many children of the wealthy obtained some kind of deferment for many different reasons. PoppinJay Trump is the only one I ever heard of who skated out of ‘Nam with a “bone spur.” Donald PopinJay Trump does not belong in the same room with Senator John McCain.

John McCain deserves all the accolades he will be given. The traitor Donald PopinJay Trump deserves a cell in prison.

I cannot tell you exactly when the following occurred but because it involves someone as prominent as Senator John McCain the exact date can be obtained. From has been learned from my extensive research, which includes numerous studies of my brain, I realize memory is selective. Memories can be jumbled, conflated and inflated. What is known, however, is the more emotional a memory the longer lasting it will become. I have met a president but this is the closest I have come to a Senator.

Jim Peay, the fine dispatcher at Checker Cab Company in Atlanta, Georgia, in the mid-1980’s, asked me over the radio to call him on the phone. Since I needed to come by the shop to “gas-up” with propane there was no need to make the call. CCC was always trying new things and this was the latest. When I drove for CCC during the olympics in 1996 they were using Compressed Natural Gas, usually shortened to CNG. Jim said, “Mike, Senator John McCain’s group needs to be picked-up at the Atlanta Histerical (Historical) Center (http://www.atlantahistorycenter.com/) and they need five cabs, all going to the airport. Since you are probably the only cab driver who has been to the place I want you to get there early and direct the others because there are five different pick-up points. McCain will be the last to leave so you should be able to see each one gets off. Radio me when each one leaves. You got that?!”

“Yeah, Jim, I got it,” I said. The tank was filled and immediately headed to the ‘Head…

I directed the other cabs, calling Jim each time one left. “One down, four to go!” Jim said, counting down until it was, “Four down and Bacon, YOUR’RE IT!”

There were limo’s there, but it was Buckhead; limo’s were everywhere, and I thought nothing off it because not a night went by without seeing at least one limo in action. Then the Senator appeared. I dropped the cigarette and stubbed it out. The Senator came out an unexpected door just to my upper front left side. The Senator was surrounded by people. Then someone broke off from the group and walked toward me as the Senator and his entourage continued walking straight toward the limo in front of me. “The Senator has decided to take alternate transportation,” he stated.

I was stunned speechless for about a nano second before erupting, “That will be a three dollar void fee!” The poor young fellow put his hands in his pockets, bringing them out empty. He shrugged before saying, “I don’t have any money.”

“Then you better get it from one of those wealthy people with you,” I said. He turned, walking briskly toward the group. He said something to them before returning to inform me they had no cash, either. Just as he ended Senator John McCain was entering the limo. He turned to me and raised his hand, giving me the peace sign along with a smile.

Beyond livid, I gave him the finger!

I will never forget the shocked look on his face. The others began hurriedly scrambling, some getting into the limo and others heading in different directions, double time. “You better come up with some money you cheap S.O.B. or I’ll have you arrested!” I shouted, as he backed away before turning and running toward the last car, which pulled away at a high rate of speed as soon as he entered. The door was not completely closed as they made their getaway…

As they pulled away I got into the cab and made the call to the dispatcher. “Jim,” I said, “The Senator decided to take alternate transportation.”

“What?!” came the reply.

“Yeah, and I did not even get a void fee,” I said.

“Well I’ll be goddamned,” was his reply. He added, “I don’t believe this SHIT!” What he said was a violation of FCC rules and he could have been fired for saying it on air. He was not fired because how could they have terminated the man when, after hearing the story, they would have probably said the same thing.

As I headed out of the Histerical Center Jim called me saying, “Mike, the only call I’m holding is a little old lady at a grocery store in Brookhaven.”

“I’ll take it, Jim. At least I know she will be there,” was the response.

The sweet woman was not going too far, something for which she apologized. “You do not have to apologize lady, it’s part of my job. You need to get home, don’t you?” She smiled and I told her the story of my recent encounter with “fame.” When I came to the end she said, “Good for you!”

She had a trunk load and lived on the top floor of a three story apartment, so up I went, making several trips. When the last bag was put down she opened a change purse like my grandmother used and took out a quarter. “I’m so sorry I cannot give you more,” she said.

This made me think of something Johnny Jones, an old man who had driven for Buckhead Safety since it began after World War II, said when I came into the office the first week of driving, bitchin’ because someone did not give me a tip. He looked me stright in the eye and said, “I’m happy if they just give me what’s on the meter, ’cause some of ’em don’t.”

“Ma’am,” I began, “You gave me more that a United States Senator, and for that I am grateful.” She smiled sweetly as I took my leave…

The following Monday I was called into the office, which was crowded. It was a family owned company and it looked more like a family reunion than an office. I had yet to meet some of these people because they did not often come to the place. Upon entering I was told to “sit-down.” A seat directly in front of the owner who ran the company was pointed out, so I took it. The owner looked at me and said, “Is it true you gave the finger to US Senator John McCain?”

“Yes sir,” I answered. He was quiet for a moment while staring into my eyes…”Well,” he said, “Don’t every flip-off a US Senator again.”

There was a three or four second delay until the room ERUPTED IN LAUGHTER! Then, one by one, they all shook my hand, saying things like, “I’ll be damned,” and, “If that don’t beat all,” and “I just wanted to meet the man who gave the bird to Senator John McCain!”

I was no longer driving when CCC had their fiftieth anniversary party but was invited. I was the only person in attendance who was not actually working for the company or a family member of someone who was working, or owned, the company. There was a drawing with many items given away. The last was a really nice CCC jacket. The son of the owner pulled out a slip we had signed and looked me straight in the eye. Then he turned to the supervisor, my friend TDub, handing him the paper. He drew another and it was the husband of one of the long-term employees.

TDub walked over and said, “Mike…” I cut him off. “I know it was my name Rick drew, TDub.”

“How did you know?” TDub asked.

“Because he looked right at me.”

“Well I’ll be damned,” he said. “You don’t mind?”

“No, because in his place I probably would’ve done the same.” My friend smiled.

Fast forward some years to when the Olympics were held in Atlanta. CCC had purchased many brand spankin’ new Crown Vics running on CNG, one of which was for me. Because I was a “new” driver this caused extremely hard feelings among some of the current drivers because there were not enough new taxis for every driver and every driver wanted one. Some were outraged and things were said, not only to me. One driver in particular was very vocal, causing dissension in the ranks. TDub took the man aside and gave him the facts of life. Later the man approached while putting CNG into the cab, and I feared trouble. He got right up in my face and said, “You really give the bird to Senator John McCain?” he asked.

“Yes sir, I did.”

“He extended his hand while saying, “Well I’ll be damned. If that don’t beat all…I don’t know what does!” As we shook hands he said, “I hope you can forgive me for the things I said. I didn’t know…”

“I accept your apology, sir. Now let’s go put some money in our pockets!” He grinned.

Advertisements

Latest Cheating Scandal Rocks Chess World

I would like to answer the question posed by Mike Thomas in the comment he left to the post The United Scholastic Chess Federation. He asked, “Why do Priest’s and Bauer’s incorrect answers merit criticism as attempts at misdirection by chess politicians?”
I found the answers given to the question posed humorous. Imagine, I thought, what if one member of each state got up to answer a question by informing the House of Representatives how things are done in their state. Oh, wait, they do! Fortunately it is confined to C-Span. I only watch the channel when the politicos go home and it morphs into BookTV.
I cannot understand why Mr. Thomas thought what I wrote was criticism (I have absolutely no idea where Mike got the idea I wrote anything concerning, “…attempts at misdirection by chess politicians?”), when, as a journalist, all I did was report what is on the forum of the USCF website. I noted there were only two comments made and after checking, those are still the only comments. Poor Alex still has not received an answer to his question. Mr. Bauer and Mr. Priest are, or have been, chess politicians. Some politicians provide more humor than late night comedians; think John McCain and Sarah Palin. All politicians are in the public eye. They make decisions affecting We the People. The same goes for chess politicians. They, as all other politicians, should be questioned. Why is it considered criticism when one questions the actions of elected public officials? Most politicians grant interviews and schedule question and answer sessions with journalists. Such is not the case with chess politicos. It is rare to find a question and answer session, or interview, with a chess politician. One such rarity is an informative interview of USCF Executive Board President Ruth Haring in the September 2012 issue of the California Chess Journal by Aditya Kumar. Racking my brain failed to bring recollection of the last time, if there has been one, I read an extended interview like the one with Ms. Haring. A PDF of the issue containing the interview can be found at the CalChess website: http://www.norcalchess.org/
I applaud Ruth for publishing in Chess Life magazine the graph vividly illustrating one of the major problems facing USCF, the problem of membership retention. Seeing is believing and seeing the graph has rocked many in the chess community. “Membership retention” in this case means finding a way to halt the hemorrhaging of very young preteen members. The fact is the USCF has been akin to a pyramid, or Ponzi scheme. Adult membership has dropped to a point where, if for any reason, the parents of very young children stop purchasing memberships there are not enough adult members to sustain the USCF. The problem is exacerbated by the fact that the so-called “Fischer boomers” are rapidly aging, and with age comes death. The dead may vote, but they no longer become members.
From my many years in chess I have learned most people are involved for one reason, that being to play! Most do not care about the politics of chess, wanting to know only, “When is the next tournament?” Whether on a local or national level there are few people willing to attempt running an organization. There has been little scrutiny, almost to the point of a “need to know” basis. There are only a few people actually controlling the operation of chess, which would seem to be all the more reason for someone to be asking the tough questions.
One of the major problems facing the chess world is the problem of using the assistance of programs to cheat. An ongoing cheating scandal has afflicted Major League Baseball since before the beginning of this century, and it continues. Monday a “dirty dozen” MLB players were suspended for what is being called “cheating.” For example, on the show MLB NOW, one of the talking heads said, “Continued talk of cheating is bad for baseball.” Another head talked about, “How we got to this point because people sat there and did not say anything.” Every week there is news of yet another cheating scandal. This appeared on the Chessbase website August 4, “A cheating scandal rocked the Dortmund Open.” Continued talk of cheating is bad for chess. Some organization needs to step-up to the plate. I have more faith in the ET’s the President of FIDE, Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, is said to have visited, to take appropriate measures than FIDE.

Of the two major issues facing organized chess, the latter is paramount. If measures are not taken the first problem will not exist because there will not be any members to retain. If the USCF board members held a press conference the first question asked should be, “How do you plan to address the onerous problem of the perception by the public of rampant cheating in chess tournaments?”
MLB players cheated because there were big bucks involved. The stakes in chess are just as huge, albeit on a lower monetary level. For example, in a column in the Washington Times, “At Cadets, one short chess game leads to one big payout for New Yorker,” David Sands writes, “It was one of the bigger payoffs you’re going to see riding on a single game of rapid chess: $145,624 for less than a half hour of work. That’s how the math worked out at the U.S. Cadet Championship in Rockville last week, as New York NM Justus Williams defeated fellow master Michael Brown of California in their rapid Game/25 playoff after the two tied for first at 4½-2½ in the eight-player invitational for the strongest American players under 16. The stakes: a full four-year scholarship to collegiate chess powerhouse University of Maryland-Baltimore County, which, according to the school’s website, is worth $36,406 a year for an out-of-stater like Williams.” (http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2013/jul/30/sands-at-cadets-one-short-chess-game-leads-to-one-/ )
This is Big Money in chess. Players have cheated for much less. I must mention the absurdity of that much money riding on a quick-play game. It does not take a Bob Dylan to see the wind is blowing in the direction of ever faster time controls. Even the World Chess Championship is now decided by quick-play games! If it is more difficult, if not impossible, to cheat during a fast game, then all games will become quick-play in the future. Imagine what it would do to the scholastic foundation upon which the USCF is now based if the headline had been, “Cheating Scandal Rocks US Cadet Championship.”