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"I was in a chat room yesterday explaining how I'd just learned the definition of the word holocaust," she told me. "It's a burning sacrifice to God, where none of the rabbis get the meat; it just goes straight to Him. That's what they call everything that happened during World War II, a holocaust."
She kept her eyes on mine, tucked in her chin and raised her eyebrows. She lifted her hands, palms up. "Burnt offering."
My last day in the office, the staff had finally found some young guys to work the phones. They looked like college freshmen and sophomores. The boy next to me wore braces. He marked each call in a notebook and made sure we knew when someone refused the survey.
"Yeah, great. We should hang out!" he would yell, holding the receiver above his head before slamming it into the cradle.
Today we were finally calling people in the metro, specifically Lee's Summit and Independence. It seemed the e-mail about Obama being a Muslim had been getting around.
"I think Obama's an al-Qaida plant," said the Independence woman who answered my last call. "I got this list of quotes one of my friends gave me. He scares me!"
I went to Brian and asked if we could talk. I explained the call and how the quotes had been stacked in the office on my first day.
"I looked it up because I wondered what else was out there about Obama that people didn't know. And none of it was true," I said. "Why do we have to lie? We're Republicans! We've got the truth on our side! This is Democrat shit."
Brian gestured for me to sit at his desk.
"I'm glad you brought this to me," he said. "That's not appropriate. If you see anything like that in the office again, let me know. I'll tear it up. People bring things in sometimes and drop them off, and we can't control it, so just keep an eye out."
"Thanks," I said. "I just don't get some of these people. It's like, even if Obama was one, I don't see anything wrong with just being a Muslim. This woman on the phone was going on about al-Qaida plants. I wasn't going to correct her ... "
"Just a couple of days ago I had some guy tell me," Brian lowered his voice, "he wasn't going to vote for a half-breed Muslim. There are some crazy people out there, but you can't convince them otherwise."Click here to write a letter to the editor.