Protests and Presentations

Tour director and Grand Edventures owner Seth Wirshba held his iPhone up to the microphone, and the angry voice growled through the speakers.  The caller spewed expletives and threats toward the spunky but harmless touring group (mostly transplant Floridian retirees with East Coast origins and accents).  The gist of the voicemail: You are not welcome here.  You have no business protesting our government shutdown because you are not Minnesotan.  Go back to Florida.  If you don't, I will come and hurt you. (For full effect, add angry abusive tone and language and very precise methods for injuring the tourists.)

Thanks to Caller ID, Seth had the name and number of the enraged brute. "Should I report this to the police?" he asked. It was agreed that he should.

Prior to Seth's phone message, I entered the conference room where I was scheduled to present a session about Swedish Foodways.  I found myself immediately surrounded by excited and diminutive ladies who proudly told me of their rally at the Capitol on Tuesday.  Someone pushed a Pioneer Press clipping toward me. Alongside the story of their demonstration was a large picture displaying Martha mid-chant, her walking cane centered in the photo and held aloft. In back of her feisty pensioners held signs objecting their tour group lockout of all things State of Minnesota. 

"I don't understand why Minnesotans are not protesting!  You have to do something about this!  The nation is watching you!" Martha reiterated to me the quote she gave to the newspaper, and the dictate that most angered spewing voicemail guy.

Our shock from the voicemail didn't subside even after Seth played the recording a second time.  Rather a difficult act to follow, especially for a liberal-minded Minnesotan who embraces acts of  protest, questioning government stupidity, and pointing out hypocrisy and deceit (especially as it pertains to elected officials who profess need for less government but want to hang on to their political paychecks). And did I mention I am a passivist?  Violence (whether in word or deed) is so ... well, primitive. I think my mouth was still hanging open with stupor and embarrassment of my fellow Minnesotan when Seth handed me the mic.  Minnesotans don't act like that.  We don't think like that.  Do we?

I accepted the mic and began my spiel.

Ironically, regardless of topic, I always hope to weave "celebration of diversity" into my presentations.  Food is about discovery and wonder, and festivity.  Who has time for slamming doors shut because of our differences?  There is too much goodness in the world to waste a moment on the hatred.

But the detestable voice rattled me, as it likely bothered the tourists.  What a rotten Minnesota Welcome.

After my little lecture, the participants surrounded me again.  This time they wanted to share their experiences with Scandinavian cuisines and people.  And two ladies were anxious to correct my horrendous pronunciation of Gefilte.

"Just repeat it after me: geh-filter," one of them directed. Her East Coast accent had her dropping the "r" in filter.

"Geh-filter," I repeated several times until she finally nodded, almost but not quite approving.

"Yeah that is about as good as you can do it, with your heavy accent," she informed me.  We might not have given her a friendly welcome to our state, but she was willing to negotiate a compromise. Then I received instructions for cooking Gefilte just like their moms used to. Whether its politics or cooking, I am ready to take their advice.


frimp said…
Dark days for Minnesotans...thankfully there is a voice of reason at Cultural Construct (CC).
Anonymous said…
Great review of the event. Everyone enjoyed the lecture. Thanks for coming.


Popular Posts