By FRANCISCO E. JIMENEZ
Someone called the newsroom on Monday with a rather interesting comment, and I just so happened to be the individual fortunate enough to answer.
He did not give a name, nor did he ask to speak with anyone in particular. He simply began speaking, assuming that the person on the other end of the line (aka me) would like to hear the nonsense that this faceless individual was about to spew.
“I read your story about Popeyes,” said John Doe (I’m not sure if he knew he was actually speaking to me, the individual who wrote the story, or simply assumed that his words would reach me).
“You forgot one big thing,” he said. “People from San Benito can’t afford to eat at Popeyes because Popeyes doesn’t accept the Lone Star Card.”
“Ok?” I said, a little confused, but not really.
“You see, everyone in San Benito is on welfare,” explained Mr. Doe. “That is all; bye, bye now.”
I’m paraphrasing, obviously, but that was the general tone of the conversation, if it can even be called that.
My immediate thought was, “Does this person really have nothing better to do than troll a local newspaper’s telephone line? How does he have so much free time to do this? Is he on welfare? Is Popeyes really that expensive?”
To be quite honest, I couldn’t help but sense a hint of racism as the motivating factor behind this individual’s statements. I could be wrong, and I hope I am, but it’s hard to ignore, especially considering that this community is more or less 86 percent Hispanic. I’ve never really been one to play the race card, but something about this individual’s tone just set off my Spidey sense.
There is no denying that poverty is unfortunately prevalent in Cameron County and much of the Rio Grande Valley. In fact, U.S. Census Bureau data recently listed the Brownsville-Harlingen area as the poorest in the country.
Still, I couldn’t help but feel a little bothered by this individual’s audacity, as well as the fact that I was not really allowed an opportunity to respond to his asinine comments.
Given that Mr. Doe is such an avid reader of our publication, I figured this column was a logical means of reaching him, whoever he is. So, without any further ado, and as Jules Winnfield once said, “Oh, you were finished? Well, allow me to retort!”
Mr. Doe, your comment could be described by a lesser person as a worthless piece of defecation, but to state as much would be an insult to worthless pieces of defecation everywhere. It is easy to criticize and troll from the comforts of your home or apartment or wherever you choose to do whatever it is you do.
There is no denying that San Benito has a poverty problem. All one needs to do is pay a visit to the local food pantry on the 100 block of East Stenger Street on any given Wednesday morning to see that. But if you, Mr. Doe, are able to make time in your obviously busy schedule to visit the food pantry, you might also notice a group of individuals doing something that you clearly are not: trying to make a difference.
If you’re not part of the solution, then you’re part of the problem. Surely, someone as wealthy as you will have a few pennies to spare for us poor folk in San Benito, or at the very least your precious time.
I normally do not let the words of shallow individuals get the best (or worst) of me, but I also have little tolerance for nonsense, especially when it comes from a coward such as yourself (whose voice I recognized as another caller who, in a similar fashion, made derogatory remarks about another story we published). In my mind, Mr. Doe, you’re no better than the prepubescent teens who leave horrendous comments anonymously on various social networks because they know that there are no repercussions, but at least in their case you could chalk up their antics to a misspent youth.
What’s your excuse, Mr. Doe?
Well, I am sure you will read this. And when you do, you will know that this is directed at you. I may not know who you are, but you know who you are, and that’s a far worse realization than any stupid comment you will ever make.
Note: Let the record show that I had a very different choice of words to describe Mr. Doe, but Managing Editor Michael Rodriguez never lets me have any fun.