I went to the tire shop to get a tire for my truck. We talked to the man at the counter and found one that they had in stock that would work. As I sat, waiting for the men in the back to install the tire, a man walked in, obviously a friend of the man at the counter, and he said, “Obama just killed the Keystone Pipeline.”
The man at the counter did not respond, he just looked up at the man who wore dark brown Carhartt bibs and work boots, with a Carhartt insulated jacket. The Carhartt man said, “that would have put me to work.”
I sat by the coffee maker, interested in what the Carhartt man had to say, and he came over to lean against the coffee table. I said, “I heard today that the company may forgo the federal requirements and make a line from Montana to the Gulf.”
“Well, it doesn’t matter,” he said, “it has to have federal oversight because it crosses the border. It was a political move,” he offered, “it just doesn’t make sense.” He looked down at his steel-toed boots, and moved his weight from one leg to the other. My husband asked him if he worked on a lot of pipelines.
“I’ve worked on them all,” he said, “all the big ones,” and began a list of names of pipelines he worked on. He was a man in his fifties, with gray/white bushy hair, probably a grandfather, with lines on his face that told of his relationship with Mother Nature, and he was clearly depressed.
“What I don’t understand,” he said, “Is why Obama shot it down. He would have gotten a lot more votes if he hadn’t.” He went on, “I haven’t worked since December 31st, 2010. I was hoping that it would have gone through.” He focused on the floor, his mouth turned to a frown, and when the man at the counter said his truck was ready, he shuffled slowly to the counter.
The Carhartt man asked the man at the counter about a mutual friend, Bob. “Well,” said the man at the counter, “Bob has another year of unemployment, so he isn’t exactly too motivated to find work right now.”
The Carhartt man paid, walked to the door, dragged his feet, his head down, and retrieved his pickup.
I wanted to tell him that Barack Obama wasn’t interested in his vote. I wanted to tell him that the company was obviously trying to put people to work by working around the Federal Government. I wanted to tell him that things may be bleak now, but perhaps in the future, we can elect a man who has his interests at heart.
But, I hadn’t the time or opportunity.
This nation is filled with men who shuffle, worry, get frustrated and angry about how the government works to hurt their ability to provide meaning to their lives. There are also men who take unemployment as a free ride, uninterested in who is paying for their vacation, leaving the worry of a job to the government who will extend their vacation.
Barack Obama has not only killed jobs in the Keystone Pipeline decision, he has killed men’s self-worth.