Last week, Nicotine Bob lost his job.
He never did give me his real name and now I’ll probably never know.
Bob is about 70 and looks like a graying retired jockey, or perhaps the skinny guy behind the window taking bets at the race track.
His pallor is the kind you’ve seen a thousand times, that of a heavy smoker. If you’ve lived in these parts for very long, you’ve seen Bob and his peers. They are the senior citizen Wal-Mart “greeters” who are actually low-paid, undertrained security guards.
Bob worked as a change person in a slot machine concession at a major food chain.
Nicotine Bob lost his job to irritated grocery store cashiers who will earn no extra pay for servicing slot customers. Since the newspaper rack fronted his perch, I often chatted with him.
Late last year, I made an innocuous comment about a New York Times headline about the latest Trump outrage.
“Trump’ll shake ‘em up,” Bob said. Trump presented the only anti-establishment vote for guys like Bob.
At almost 70, he gets about $600 a month from Social Security. He is understandably frustrated that someone who has worked hard all his life can’t make ends meet.
Alas and alack, Bob swallowed the conservative Kool-Aid. He really believes that cutting taxes on rich people and big corporations will make his life better by stimulating the economy.
A few months back, I told Bob how Kansas Republican Gov. Sam Brownback did exactly that. Backed by the Rasputin of American politics, Kansas billionaire Charles Koch, Brownback was narrowly re-elected last year after destroying the state’s economy and education system. He begged voters to give Reaganesque trickle-down economics four more years.
At 70, Bob’s prime earning years began about 40 years ago when Carter and Reagan came to power. Reagan merely finished much of what Carter started.
In a post-election speech at Harvard, Trump’s chief pollster Tony Fabrizio “acknowledged” that Trump’s win resulted from four counties in Florida and one in Michigan – Macomb, which he carried by 50,000, winning the state by about 10,000.
Former House Democratic Whip David Bonior was Macomb’s longtime congressman. He listed “racism, sexism, xenophobia and a desire ‘to flip Washington the bird’ as factors in Trump’s win,” according to Rolling Stone’s Mark Binelli (9 Feb. 2017).
“Macomb has been known since the 1980s as home of the fabled ‘Reagan Democrats,’ blue-collar union members who tossed aside party loyalty to vote for Reagan,” Binelli wrote.
Film maker and Michigan native Michael Moore tried to warn the Clinton campaign last August. Moore quoted an angry Michigander who said he was voting Republican because (drum roll, please) “Trump’ll shake ‘em up.”
Moore’s warning was ignored. Hillary’s people ordered Iowa union members not to campaign in Michigan because Brooklyn HQ computers projected that she had Michigan locked up.
None of this means much to Nicotine Bob. He’s still waiting for Trumpian tax cuts to trickle down to him.
He’s been shaken but not stirred.
Be well. Raise hell. / Esté bien. Haga infierno.
Andrew Barbano is a 48-year Nevadan and editor of NevadaLabor.com. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org> Barbwire by Barbano has originated in the Tribune since 1988.