Thursday, September 10, 2015

Gaby and Marc

So we’re having lunch at Dr. Limon (best ceviche I’ve ever had).  In addition to our meal, we order a few items to take with us.  Gaby, our waitress, presents the bill, and says “I’m sorry, the to-go items came out on a separate bill.  I apologize for the inconvenience.”  No big deal, I think to myself.  But then I notice that the bill for the to-go items shows a different server name, not Gaby’s like the bill for the served items.  I ask Gaby why that is, since she served us and brought us the to-go items as well.

“Actually, to be honest, I put the to-go items on a separate bill because I didn’t want to inflate the lunch total.  It wouldn’t be fair for you to base your tip on the total amount.”

OK, so Gaby, proceeding under the assumption that people generally don’t add a tip to to-go items (false assumption in my case, but not relevant here), didn’t want to include those items in our lunch bill lest I overtip by figuring the gratuity on an amount that includes to-go items.  She would rather forego the possibility of more income to herself than, in her view, either trick or guilt the customer into paying a higher tip than he normally would.  And, had I not asked about it, her act of professionalism and generosity would have gone unnoticed.

I was touched by Gaby’s actions, particularly in light of the Kim Davis farse.

Davis is, of course, the Rowan County, Kentucky clerk recently jailed for contempt of court after defying a federal court order by refusing to issue marriage licenses to gay couples, maintaining that she is against gay marriage because it goes against her religion.  Grandstanding, opportunistic demagogues Ted Cruz and Mike Huckabee, predictably, jumped to Davis’ defense, citing her “religious freedom,” and actively participated in a repulsive, cringe-inducing demonstration upon her release from jail.

Few things upset me more than people who preach “religious freedom” while advocating its exact opposite.  Ms. Davis, Mr. Cruz, Mr. Huckabee, if you frown upon same-sex marriage due to your religious beliefs, that’s fine, don’t marry anyone of your same sex.  Nobody’s making you do that.  But why do you believe that you have the right to impose your own faith on others?  How can you not understand that “religious freedom” means that everyone has the right to live in accordance with their own beliefs?  Their own, as in, not yours?  To you, and others of your ilk, “religious freedom” applies only to those who share your particular beliefs.  You are pushing for an American Theocracy.   Your notions are “frankly unAmerican, and belong more in Riyadh or Tehran than in Washington, DC.”  You are Ayatollah wannabes, as dangerous to America as Islamic fundamentalist terrorists.

Now we come full circle to Marc Ambinder, editor-at-large for The Week and contributing editor at The Atlantic.  In his column today, Ambinder argues that Davis was treated unfairly by Judge David Banning, who threw her in jail for contempt.  Ambinder:

I find the government's conduct more offensive to my sense of justice than I do Davis' refusal to comply with the law. And I say this as a dude who had to wait years to marry another dude.

In any moral universe, her crime should not justify a total deprivation of her civil rights.

Unlike Kim Davis, Mike Huckabee and Ted Cruz (and so many others), Gaby and Marc Ambinder are able to step outside of themselves and see things from an objective perspective.  They understand other points of view.  They look after the interests of others, even when those interests conflict with their own.  They strive to say and do what’s right, period, full stop, not necessarily what benefits themselves.

Too bad neither of them is running for president.