Long ago when Nehru jackets and love beads were the craze, Karen and I were drinking coffee in an East Lansing, Michigan coffeehouse on the last leg of our winter break in college. We'd just sat down when in walked a hippie chick with that certain je ne sais quois hippie-chick type vibe. Her hair was long and parted down the middle, and she wore desert boots (women always notice those things) and a flowing top made from a strong cotton blend.
Recognizing her from class, Karen invited her to join us. Now I have forgotten many things since then. I have no idea what I ate for dinner last Tuesday, I've forgotten the names of all my teachers from high school and I often lose receipts, but I will always remember something that hippie chick.
"Wherever I go, whatever I do," she said, "I create a little dent in the earth and all the loose nuts and bolts come rolling down."
The comment spun around and stuck like a bad tattoo.
Last week, the latest nut and bolt to come rolling down wanted to know if I am a racist. Me, of all people, me, an upstanding American citizen with a so-so driving record, who tips more than 20% at the car wash regardless of race, creed or national origin, if they are polite and everything is still there.
Now let me make one thing perfectly clear: I have never joined a racist organization, not only because I hate going to meetings, but because I am not wired that way and my kin didn't exactly come over on the Mayflower.
But I do have my boundaries and limits. I've got nothing against people from other countries because we are all from somewhere. It's just the illegal, sneaking across the border type that don't want to bother standing in line for a work permit or paying any taxes that do me in.
Though that is only half the story. I've been thinking things over since last week, and I am going to reverse my original stand, for I now believe that illegal immigrants help make this nation strong in three ways:
Way 1: They Create Jobs, especially in law enforcement, border patrol and the fire department. They also create jobs in hospitals after fights and for the media, who report on these things, and they have bolstered the court system from the translators.
Way 2: They Help the Environment. Many have taken up a gardening by growing funny little plants in places like the Angeles National Forest. Scientists know that foliage helps the environment by releasing oxygen in place of all the carbon dioxide that's out there, so we should be clean pretty soon.
Way 3: They Add to the Census: Some countries, like Finland, have an almost zero population growth. We should only have their problem. It would be easier finding parking at the beach or the mall.
Maybe it's something in their vodka or their dancing that keep people away. Or maybe they haven't got that many liberals.