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July 17th, 2005

Customer disservice...

I got up at about 10:00, put on a pot of coffee, and ran to Bruegger's, where I purchased a pumpernickel bagel with plain light cream cheese for me, and a sesame seed one with plain cream cheese for Robert.

On the way, I returned Joe's call from earlier, during which he told me that his back was hurting so much that he was going to Urgent Care in about an hour or so. I told him to keep me posted throughout the day.

At the beginning of the conversation with him, I said, "I'm at Bragels," which I thought was an interesting slip, sort of combining the words Bruegger's and bagels. My mouth can't keep up with my thoughts.

Robert headed back to Chapel Hill at about 1:30, taking his bagel "to go."

I met Joe for dinner at Applebee's. Just before arriving I called Vivian to see if she had received my card -- the "irreverent one" that I'd mailed using the stamp with a picture of me on it. She had, and loved it.

We had the weirdest hostess at Applebee's. She looked at us as if she were a zombie, and talked like one, too.
<In robot monotone>
Patty-will-be-your-server-tonight.
David-is-the-manager-on-duty.
The-soup-(Will-Robinson)-of-the-day-is-broccoli-cream.
</In robot monotone>
Our server was not very good, and I later found out that Joe had stopped going to Applebee's for a while because of their service. She brought our drinks -- Joe got soda and I got water. She asked me if I wanted a straw with my drink. I said no. She didn't ask Joe if he wanted one, and he did.

Joe ordered a steak rollup that was supposed to come with chips and salsa, which was in fact one of the draws to it for him. When it arrived, there were fries on the plate, and no chips and salsa.

When he asked her about it, she said, "Oh yeah. We're out of chips and salsa, so they've just been substituting fries for them." Hello!?! Maybe you should be mentioning that when peope order!?!

She never came back to see how we were doing, or to refill our drinks. Needless to say, she got the minimum amount of tip, and in my opinion, she's lucky she got that.

From there, we went to Helios, where we had another "customer service moment." They were just starting to brew a fresh pot of coffe of the kind we wanted, and told us it would be about two minutes before it was ready. We paid for it, and went outside.

There were no customers at the counter, and the one guy from behind the counter (whom, for some reason, I imagine to be one of the owners, but probably isn't) eventually stepped outside to put away a grill that was right next to our table, but didn't say anything about our coffee being ready.

Personally, I thought, especially since there were no customers at the counter in there, they could have brought it out, or at least tell the guy getting the grill to tell us it was ready.

After about 5 minutes, Joe went inside to ask about it, and the girl behind the counter said, "They're down there," pointing to the end of the counter. Slack.

Professor Brad was there, and I said hello. He was joined by a devilishly handsome guy, named Derrick, whom he introduced to me.

After a few minutes there, Kevin (av8rdude) joined us, and he got their PB&J sandwich, which looked good. I never think to actually eat at Helios, but should consider it the next time I just want something "light."

When we arrived at Flex, Brian (brianrdu) was there. Kevin talked to his mom on his cell phone for a little bit before coming in. Brian and I exchanged some "Sordid Lives" quips and quotes. Eventually, we got a pool table, and me, Joe, and Kevin played three, I believe it was, games of cut throat pool. I won at least one of the games.

Patrick was back bartending, and was blond.

Since Joe's day had led him to taking some drugs for his back pain, he had just one beer. I only had two cocktails. We left there at about 11:30.



I heard this joke on the radio today: What do you call a boomerang that doesn't "come back"? A stick. Ba-dump-bump. We're here all week folks.


My letter to the editor finally got published today, along with a slew of others about the same article. I particularly liked how they "saved mine for last."

Sunday Forum
Letters to the editor of the Editorial Page

Regarding the story about Steve Noble and Called2Action in last Sunday's paper...

Flawed struggle

Regarding the July 10 front-page article "A grass-roots star rises on the right":

I was deeply inspired by reading about Steve Noble's struggle to defend society against the scourge of same-sex marriage. So inspired, in fact, that I went straight to my Bible -- I wanted to read the passage where Jesus says that gay and lesbian people are evil and undeserving of the same rights as the rest of us. But I looked and I looked, and I just couldn't find it. Apparently Jesus never devoted any of his time or energy to persecuting gay and lesbian people. And I was even more surprised to read about the things he did spend time on -- feeding the hungry, healing the sick, welcoming the outcasts. Typical bleeding-heart stuff. Could it be possible that Christ himself didn't understand what it means to be a good Christian?

I don't think so. But I do think that today's Christians have divided themselves into two opposing camps, one which sets its agenda based on the gospel, and the other which sets its agenda based on the platform of the Republican Party. As for me, I'll take the gospel. I know who I serve.

Maggie Stoddard
Raleigh


Non-negotiable truth

Your July 10 front-page article about Steve Noble and Called2Action was excellent.

A quoted comment, however, by the Rev. Jack McKinney of the N.C. Religious Coalition for Marriage Equality demands a response. He said that "A lot of the fuel for evangelical groups is their absolute certainty that their view of God and their understanding of the world is the only truth." That part of his statement is accurate. There is absolute truth, and it's what Steve Noble and other Christians are fighting for. This absolute truth and view of God comes from the authority of the Holy Scriptures -- not what the latest trend is in social engineering.

McKinney went on to say that Noble has a narrow understanding of truth, and that makes dialogue very difficult. I couldn't disagree more. There are many issues we can have dialogue over: feeding and housing the poor, fighting drugs, eliminating child abuse and on and on. But when it comes to issues like men marrying men and women marrying women, or the aborting of innocent children, there is no room for dialogue.

What's wrong is wrong. No apologies. True, we can discuss helping a mother who feels desperate about her pregnancy or a man who wants to give up his homosexual lifestyle, but this help would not only be an outgrowth of the love that Christ has for all people but also the knowledge and certainty that some things in this life are hurtful, harmful and just simply wrong.

Nancy Williams
Fuquay-Varina


Why the 'secretive'?

I thought the lead sentence in your July 10 article on Steve Noble was hostile and unsupported by the remainder of the article. Specifically, the word "secretive," applied to the Council for National Policy, was very pejorative and had no relation to Noble himself.

I don't doubt that the organization in question is shy of scrutiny from a typically hostile press. But I see no purpose in commenting negatively on such a tangential matter other than to tip the reader that there is something a little unsavory about the subject of your profile.

Otherwise, the piece was tough but reasonably balanced, although I doubt that you would have been equally tough with a profile on a religious activist whose causes were liberal ones. Too bad you had to include the cheap shot in the lead.

Ed Cottingham
Raleigh


Unbending theology

I found your July 10 article on Steve Noble, local Christian activist, interesting yet disturbing. He sounds like he'd rather coerce all of society to confirm to his beliefs rather than see that those beliefs stand firm in his own castle.

As difficult as it may be for parents to steer their children within the broad realm of society, that is indeed the challenge. One cannot hope to simply change all of society instead. It is neither prudent nor in keeping with setting the best example as a parent to attempt such. Society changes over time and children must be taught how to follow the right road regardless.

Noble's misguided view that family values take precedence over everything else and that "society won't crumble based on tax policy or housing policy or even welfare policy" is evidence of his myopia.

It is hard not to ask if his activism is born of guilt from his earlier years spent as a "major-league hedonist." One would think his Christian beliefs alone should lead him to a more balanced and insightful place. Does he not find it difficult to reconcile shouting down others, insisting that only he knows the truth and dismissing the impact of poverty with Christian values? Let us hope that his children don't pick up these behaviors before their teen years.

Catherine Alisa Rich
Cary


A political cause

As a strong Christian, I read your July 10 article on Christian activist Steve Noble hoping to learn about all the great things being done by this local activist. Instead, I see Noble is entertained at the highest levels of Republican conservative circles for his efforts at gay-bashing and lobbying related to the Pledge of Allegiance, coupled with leading a failed protest of the City of Raleigh's policy of banning discrimination based on sexual orientation.

After 48 years as a Christian, I am appalled by Republican conservatives who cloak themselves in Christianity as they either sit in folded-arm judgment of their fellow citizens or engage in attacks on those who are unfortunate enough to be different from them. Anyone who has listened to, or read about, the central teachings of Jesus Christ for more than five minutes knows that his main focus was on actively helping the poor, downtrodden and those less fortunate. On this score, we all have much more to do.

I would suggest that activists such as Noble stop calling themselves Christian and just tell it like it is and call themselves Republicans, period. Or go all the way to the label best representing the ultimate end point, American Taliban.

Geoff Williams
Raleigh


Bottom-line issues

Your July 10 story on Steve Noble and his Called2Action group concluded with Noble's statement that "society won't crumble based on tax policy or housing policy or even welfare policy. These aren't foundational issues."

My response is that if a hungry man came to me and asked me how to pray, I would first give him something to eat. Noble and his family should commit to spending one week living among the rising numbers of homeless in downtown Raleigh, with no more than $25 pocket money for the week, He could then more accurately determine whether housing policy or tax policy (which currently siphons money from housing, health care and education programs into the pockets of the richest 1 percent) are "foundational issues."

Christina Stableford
Raleigh


The major threat

I'm one of the two gay men referenced in what your July 10 article on Steve Noble called "Call2Action's two-month boycott of The News & Observer for running a photo of two gay men."

My question is, when is Noble going to spend two months of energy boycotting the venues catering to heterosexual men who are still members of his "major-league" hedonism club -- "partying, drinking beer and chasing girls" -- a group he admits to being a former member of?

Last I heard, that group was way larger than, and doing way more damage to, the "sanctity of marriage" than gay men ever will.

John Martin
Raleigh

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