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An usher’s election stirs conversation

The Jacksons from the August 24, 2017 issue of the Manitoba Co-operator

cartoon image of a family seated at a table

Andrew Jackson ambled up the street in the direction of the café, his boot heels clicking lazily on the hard concrete sidewalk, his old Blue Bomber cap pulled down to shade his eyes from the hot Saturday morning sun.

The thermometer outside the kitchen window had said it was 24° when he left the house 15 minutes earlier, and the forecast had suggested a high of 31, which seemed at the moment to be on the low side rather than high. Andrew debated with himself the pros and cons of stepping into the hardware store just for a minute on his way by.

On the plus side, it’d be air-conditioned in there, which would be pleasant. On the minus side, Andrew had already proved beyond a shadow of doubt, that there was such a thing as having too many pairs of pliers, and he knew that there was every chance that if he went in he would come out with another superfluous pair. By the time he had finished this line of thought he was well past the hardware store and the sound of the homeless pliers calling to him had faded away. A truck drove by on the street and honked as it passed. Andrew raised a hand in salute. “I wonder who that was?” he thought, but didn’t bother to turn and see.

When he reached the door of the café, Andrew paused to survey the vehicles parked on the street. Grant Toews’s black Dodge Ram was there of course (Grant would be waiting for him) and Dave Fehr’s blue Toyota Tundra, and also a green Ford F150 that Andrew didn’t recognize. “Hooray for diversity,” he said to himself and then stepped inside into the cool temperature-controlled climate of the café. Grant and Dave were sitting at the usual table by the window along with Abe Rempel who, Andrew now remembered, drove a green F150. He poured himself a coffee at the counter and headed over to join the trio at the window.

“Honestly,” Abe was saying as Andrew seated himself, “I don’t know how the guy ever got voted in. I mean nobody likes him. He’s a power-hungry egotistical narcissist with a vastly inflated sense of his own importance. Why they would elect him is beyond me.”

There was a moment of silence.

“Well,” said Andrew, “Americans are suffering from a long-term pattern of disenfranchisement, and maybe they couldn’t see any other way out.”

There was another moment of silence.

“What are you talking about?” asked Dave.

“Donald Trump.” said Andrew. “What are you talking about?”

“Bob Bargen,” said Abe. “Got himself elected head usher in church last week. Completely unqualified. Very sad.”

“You could always switch churches,” said Dave. “We have lots of room in ours.”

“I may be a Mennonite,” said Abe, “but I’m not that kind of Mennonite. I don’t switch churches every time my church makes a doctrinal error or elects a moron as head usher. If I did that I’d probably have tried every church from here to Steinbach by now and I’d be reduced to visiting the Springs Mega Church in Winnipeg once a month just to keep the wife happy.” He picked up his coffee cup. “I just don’t know who would vote for a guy like that,” he said again.

“Bob Bargen?” said Andrew. “Isn’t he the guy with eight siblings and 67 nieces and nephews?”

“That’s him,” said Abe.

“Well there’s your problem,” said Andrew. “He’s got the rest of you outnumbered by 35 votes.”

“Also, maybe other church members are feeling disenfranchised,” said Grant. “Maybe they were just tired of the status quo and decided to elect a maverick.”

“He’s not a maverick,” said Abe, “he’s a moron. Last week he made me sit next to Jake Funk, and he knows we don’t get along.”

“Whoa, that’s bad,” said Dave. “Just curious though, who in your church would you like to sit next to?” he asked.

“Nobody really,” said Abe. “Bill Hiebert maybe, but he doesn’t come to church anymore, so that’s out.” He pushed his chair back and got up. “It’s a sad state of affairs,” he said, “when your congregation elects an usher who just wants to tell everybody where to sit.”

The other three were silent as he turned and headed for the door.

“Isn’t that actually an usher’s job?” said Andrew when Abe was gone. “Telling people where to sit?”

“Pretty much,” said Grant.

“Maybe Bob Bargen isn’t the problem,” said Andrew.

“An astute observation,” said Grant.

“Bob Bargen’s always a problem,” said Dave, “but there’s no such thing as a problem that doesn’t get worse when Abe Rempel gets involved.”

“Truer words,” said Grant.

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