Michael P. Ackley has worked more than three decades as a journalist, the majority of that time at the Sacramento Union. His experience includes reporting, editing and writing commentary. He retired from teaching journalism for California State University at Hayward.More ↓Less ↑
Editor’s note: Michael Ackley’s columns may include satire and parody based on current events, and thus mix fact with fiction. He assumes informed readers will be able to tell the difference.
My wife tells “my story” to the national nominating convention:
I’m sure we all love our husbands, but nobody loves her husband more than I love my husband, because my husband is the most loveable. He also is the most caring, thoughtful husband – ever!
This is despite the fact he had no advantages growing up. Why, Michael – I never call him “Mike” – had to walk to school. From kindergarten on he would lace up his little shoes, take his lunch – often in a brown paper bag! – and trek manfully out the door. Nobody was driving him to Sidwell Friends or even a Waldorf School. He walked! (cheers) Rain or shine! (more cheers)
His parents couldn’t afford an immigrant gardener, so Michael had to pull weeds himself! This is why he understands the plight of both farmers and farm workers.
He also had to mow the lawn! – without a power mower. He had to push a balky mower back and forth – uphill in both directions – until the grass looked like the fairways at Augusta National. And on weekends, he would mow his grandparents’ lawn – and he had to go to their house on the bus! (appreciative applause)
Did he complain? (audience shouts, “NO!”) Of course not! He just really cared about his family, just the way he cares about the American family – HIS family! (applause)YOUR family! (cheers) OUR family! (applause, cheering, foot stomping)
Times were tough when he was young. His dad had a long illness, so Michael’s mother couldn’t be a stay-at-home mom. She worked hard as a clerk typist with the county welfare department. This is why my husband understands the challenges facing women in the workplace! (cheers) He’ll shatter the glass ceiling! (huge applause) And he cares about people forced to stay on welfare for years (placard waving).
To help make ends meet during high school, he pumped gas at a service station, checked the oil and the tire pressure, and washed the windshield. And with him it wasn’t just, “You’re a quart low,” but a caring, “Sir, I fear you’re risking your means of getting to the job where you work hard. You’re a quart low.” (cheers)
And he still had to mow the lawn! (applause) And wash the dishes! (louder applause) And pick up his dirty clothes! (uproarious applause)
All the while he kept up his grades, though all he had to write with were those little golf-course pencils he picked caddying at the golf course, where he carried the bags of rich, one-percenters. (supportive hoots)
He got a college education – by working as a hasher, as a gardener, as a store clerk, as a warehouseman in a packing plant. In that plant, he saw how hard workers worked hard and got tired and went home to dinner and to bed, and got up the next day to work hard again. And that made him care – a lot! (big applause) And it helped him understand industrial workers. (applause)
We met in a class at Cal. He shyly and lovably asked me out to a movie – The Beatles’ “Hard Day’s Night!” (applause, cries of “Beatles forever!”) He was so cute – and loveable! (applause) We double dated with his roommate, who had an old Chevrolet. There was no way I was going to get aboard his scruffy motor scooter, which he later soldto buy my engagement ring! (hearty laughter)
But mostly when we dated we walked because shoe leather was the transport we could afford. (applause)
But did he complain? (audience shouts, “NO!”) Never, because he’s not a complainer. He just kept caring for hard-working people. And because he cared – we cared – we heeded the words of the martyred president, John F. Kennedy: “Ask not what your country can do for you …” (eruption of applause). We entered Volunteers in Service to America, and we cared very much all the time.
As community organizers – yes, like the incumbent – we lived in a packing crate in south Texas. We had to haul our water from the Rio Grande River in old olive oil cans. And we learned that if you really want to get out of poverty, work hard to get a federal job with the War on Poverty. (confused murmurs)
With my help, Michael became a father, and he was the most loving and loveable father you could imagine. (applause) And because we cared about our children and their future, we taught them how to pull weeds and mow the lawn! (eruption of applause)
And from this life of hard work and caring, Michael learned a very important life lesson: Hard work is just too tiring! So he became a journalist! (confused mix of murmurs, clapping and catcalls)
But he really, really cares! (some applause returns)
Do we care? (audience, loudly, “YES!”)
Does caring matter? (audience, louder still, “YES!”)
Is caring really the only thing that matters? (audience, loudly, “YES!”)
Is caring more important than results? (audience, loudly, “YES! YES!”)
What party cares most? (audience, loudly, “Our party!”)
What candidate cares most? (audience, loudly, “Our candidate!”)
Who are we going to vote for? (audience, roaring, “WHO CARES!?”)