Try as I might, I couldn't overcome the urge to hurl some invective back at the guy. The end result ended up being postworthy, so I'll talk about Lasee some other time. The remainder of this post is my response to Young's comment.
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Mr. Young, it seems you won't be joining us on the fence, which is unfortunate. Perhaps a second perusal of my "diatribe" is in order, for a trifecta of reasons.
Firstly, as well read as you seem, you failed to take away from the piece that there is no such person as "Jin." There is a very colorful story behind that name, and I'm sure Jeff Okafo would be happy to tell it to you if you were to so much as attempt to engage him in conversation. Then again, if you're the type that doesn't associate with "pikers," "rule-breakers" or "black people," google up an article I saw by the Badger Herald about his business, and you can get all the information you need without associating with any "undesirables."
Secondly, I too consider myself a friend of Mike Verveer's, which is why I felt comfortable consulting with him before I wrote this story. I'm sure I don't know him as well as you do, nor have I known him as long, but I went so far as to note the respect I hold for Mike, undermining the very "argument" you seem to think I was making. I weighed his opinion heavily while I crafted this piece, but in the end, I decided Mike's perspective is conveyed everywhere else you look: in city policy, in the minutes from the Vending Oversight Committee meetings and in people like you.
Which brings me to my third point. A "diatribe?" Seriously, is that what passes for a diatribe nowadays? No, Mr. Young, I was telling a story that I thought people might be interested to read. I gauge this based on the fact that I was personally interested to hear Mr. Okafo's perspective, and as a "people" myself, I can generally figure out what they would like to read about.
A teacher and inspiration of mine, Steven Walters from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, once told me, "Everybody's got a story they're just waiting to tell. They're just looking for someone to tell it to." Jeff Okafo was happy to impart his story to me, relieved even. Then, as a story-teller, I had to ask myself, "Is there a value to this story?" I sure think so, if as nothing more than a cautionary tale, but also to outline the inherent dangers any kind of institution can pose to individuality.
I'm not personally waving the flag of anarchy, and I'm not condemning anyone here. From my honest, common-sense perspective, while a six month suspension may be a little steep, Jeff Okafo ought to come under some kind of scrutiny to ensure that he finds a way to make his living without breaking city laws.
But, for the sake of conscience, I simply chose to outline a perspective many people may not have considered in this story, and the fact that you perceived it as a diatribe and reacted in such a kneejerk fashion tells me you have firmly entrenched yourself on one side of the proverbial, aforementioned fence. As such, humanizing someone like "Jin" kind of turns your whole worldview upside down, doesn't it? It makes you uncomfortable. I get the feeling you're still struggling to figure out if the whole "walk a mile in someone else's shoes" cliche isn't just some kind of play on words.
In closing, let it be known that when I write a goddamn diatribe, you will know it as such. I hope I have made clear what my intentions were with this piece. I hope that I have not offended you to the point where, when we meet in person (because this town's not that big), we can't order a round and argue it out further in person. And I don't really think you're a racist, an elitist or a simpleton, but it sure was easy to perceive you as such based on the 321 words of florid prose you posted...to vilify you and dehumanize you, as it were.
But mostly, I hope I've conveyed a broader message. The hardest skill I've had to learn in my line of work is the suspension of judgement for someone I may think clearly deserves it. I'm still learning it. There are days I'm sure I've utterly failed at learning it.
So, simply put...lighten up, dude.