I had just about given up on Big Freddy when he heaved through the door and made his way to our booth.
“Bad night?” I asked.
“Bad battery,” he said. “Sputtered a bit yesterday — was stone dead this morning.”
“They’ll do that,” I said. “Batteries are out of sight and mind until the bottom falls out of the thermometer.
“So -— did you get a jump-start?”
“Neighbor,” Freddy said.
“But it won’t last,” I said. “Better get a new one.”
“So should Washington,” Freddy said. “I’ve had it with all this Fiscal Cliff business.”
“Higher taxes for those who can afford them, and Obama won the election going away,” I said.
“So, it’s a jump-start for revenue time,” Freddy said. “All about taxes and pinning the tail on the elephant, but it’s not going to create jobs, and that’s what needs fixing.”
“But unemployment rate’s have gone down,” I said.
“Bookkeeping numbers have gone down because so many have stopped looking,” Freddy said. “But talk Fiscal Cliffs to those part timers working two or three jobs without any benefits and no security, and they’ll tell you they’ve already taken their fall. The charts don’t show all of that.
“Tell it to trained workers whose jobs have gone overseas who are trying to get by with whatever they can without losing their unemployment.
“Tell it to the college graduates who can’t find more than part time jobs and are having to pay the piper for their student debts.
“Tell it to those over 55 who are losing their homes because their jobs have gone overseas. And if you want real numbers, tell it to the 12 million registered unemployed and then add to that only God knows how many more who have just given up.”
“But there are signs the economy’s improving,” I said. “Home sales are on the rise and so is construction.”
“New batteries,” Freddy said.
“What do you mean, ‘new batteries’” I asked.
“New jobs, new batteries, long life,” Freddy said. “Not temporary jump starts. Full time work. Something you can look forward to taking home with a smile on your face.
“Those kinds of jobs. Jobs with tomorrows and the days after the tomorrows to build on.
“Jobs that give college graduates a base for getting out of the red and into the black. Jobs that give high school graduates something of their own to look forward to.
“So many jobs out there that those over 55 who have lost their’s and have given up looking will get back to job hunting.”
“You’re talking about a full recovery,” I said.
“Getting the monkey off the nation’s back,” Freddy said.
“That won’t happen for so long as we’ve got the two parties at loggerheads,” I said.
“And Democrats don’t force the Republicans to eat too much crow,” Freddy said.
“But you can’t blame the President for making the most of his victory,” I said.
“I’m not - but I’m making the most of what’s going to be his legacy,” Freddy said. “Only history will judge that, and he has a great opportunity to make his mark. He inherited a mess that he hasn’t walked away from. That puts everything on his watch over the next four years. We need a leader, not a driver. He does that, he’ll be one for the ages.”
“That’s going to be a challenge for both sides of the aisle,” I said.
“Great leadership lives with that,” Freddy said. “Real leaders — the kind that overcome for the common good in uncommon times don’t just jump start what it takes to keep moving. They change what needs changing, and that begins in the Oval Office.”
Bill Plante is a Newbury resident.