My local grocer carries two brands of bananas: Chiquita and Dole. Lately, I have complained to him because one is always over-ripe and rotting, and the other has a very bitter taste, and makes me sick. The owner says I can take one or the other but if I don’t choose one, I have forfeited my right to complain.
The guy next to me continues to buy the Dole bananas even though they stink – because they are not as bad as the Chiquita, he says. He will continue, to complain, but what will the owner say to himself? He will say, “Who cares what he thinks, as long as he keeps buying bananas from me.”
If that were the end of the story, it would be basically none of my business that my neighbor chooses the lesser of two bad bananas. But my neighbor has started to complain that I am forfeiting my right not only to complain, but my future right to choose my own banana and that if I don’t choose any bananas, I am actually choosing to buy the Chiquita. I insist that I don’t want either banana. No matter, my friend says: Not voting for Dole IS voting for Chiquita.
Sometimes I am tempted to buy an off-brand banana. But my friend tells me that too is a waste of time. The grocers will never ever carry that brand, only 2% of customers at most, ever choose these bananas over other brands, he says. Besides, eating those other brands will mean that the grocer will never consider improving his banana selection.
Finally, my friend warns me. All kinds of other bad things can happen if I don’t choose Dole bananas. Perhaps Chiquita will corner the market on other fruits as well. When I tell him that I am against eating rotten bananas, he mocks me and says, I am living in a pipe dream – bananas can never be tasty again. Maybe so. But I refuse to eat rotten bananas. Anybody going to join me?
David is currently an adjunct instructor of Composition and Speech at Marshalltown Community College in Iowa. His wife and he have also owned a business selling antique and collectible postcards on eBay since 1999. David was an activist with Operation Rescue in the early 1990s. He is a member of Trinity Presbyterian Reformed Church in Johnston, Iowa.