Wally and Fred voted in the big election and then went to O’Leary’s Bar for a couple of beers. O’Leary’s is where men who work for the city go after every important election. Chicago has many neighborhood bars like O’Leary’s, catering to blue collar workers not on the clock. At least most of the time.
After six beers, a few hard-boiled eggs and a plate of nachos, Wally asked Fred how the hell could he have voted for a bum like that after 50 years of voting a straight ticket.
Did he forget who butters his bread?
If the alderman finds out, Wally said, your job’s gone. And Fred agreed. He wouldn’t be paving any more streets in the summer and filling potholes in the winter.
Good pay and benefits, Wally reminded him, and Fred didn’t argue about that. He’d been employed by the city through his political party for more than 30 years and he hoped to retire soon. Looking forward to a nice pension.
Fred signaled Ethel, the owner of O’Leary's, for two more beers. He lit a fat cigar despite the no-smoking sign that everyone ignores and told Wally it wasn’t easy to vote for that guy.
No question he's a bum, Fred said. You can have money, he said, and still not have any class.
But Fred said his neighbor, Marty, had told him their party in Washington had taken the Little Sisters of the Poor to court. Those nuns, he said, had been taking care of Marty's mother for 10 years and she’s not even Catholic. She’s 90 and flat broke, very sick but refuses to die.
Marty took Fred to visit his mother, and Fred said his mother and all the old folks at the home were treated like royalty. Good food and nurses and a doctor who visits regularly. They have homes like that all over the United States and in other countries too, Fred said.
Fred added that he should be so lucky when he’s old and sick but he said he’d have to be flat broke to get in. The nuns don’t take anyone who has money. Doesn’t matter if you have connections. If you ain’t broke, you don’t get in.
So that’s why, Fred said, he voted for the bum in the other party. Bad as he is, he probably wouldn’t take a bunch of nuns to court, especially nuns who take care of old folks who have no money.
That man likes money, Fred said, just like we do. He simply has more of it. But those nuns wouldn’t let him in.