02/13/2011 06:23 pm ET Updated May 25, 2011

Take Me to the Market

How often have we read the work of reporters whose principal source seems to be a taxi driver in an alien city? Nevermind it's a job often left to folks new to our shores. Try a more likely source: supermarket aisles. They hold much greater promise. Here's a "walk the talk" moment.

When I finally got to the grocery store last night, an overbearing fellow in line at the deli was taking loud advantage of a lovely lady stuck behind him. Her lacey gloves caught my eye, his caustic attacks on President Obama were unavoidable.

I tried to ignore the guy, really I did. But as I turned the corner, his groundless attacks -- that somehow my president is "bad for buiness" -- were too much for me.

I stopped. Of course, that blocked the lady pushing her cart behind me. Ruefully, I apologized, explaining to her I was equivocating whether or not to go back and challenge the guy. She chuckled, "I know, I felt the same way. But people like that are hopeless."

I thanked her profusely for confirming my chicken-heartedness, and continued down the aisle. Then my conscience got the better of me. Wait a minute. He's hopeless only if we don't engage with him. And had I not just argued strongly that we all must stand up to political bullying and relentless public wrong-headedness?

So, yes. I went back.

Approaching the long-suffering (and elegant) lady, my appearance gave the guy pause. "Excuse me," I said. "I only want to interrupt long enough to say that I wholeheartedly support my president. Our economic problems are the result of Republicans and corporations, NOT President Obama. He is NOT bad for business. Corporate America is bad for business, and we need to say so."

The man was as startled as he was unhappy with me. He accused me of misunderstanding his point. Then he accused me of taking his point out of context, and completely changed his tune!

And here's the best part. My intercession seemed to empower the Lovely Lady. She turned to him: "I don't understand how someone who says he's a veteran can say the kind of things you've said about President Obama. I support him wholeheartedly too! And let me tell you something. I just came from seeing First Lady Michelle Obama. She was talking about how important public education is. And she was great! So is our President. We've got to stand up and support both of them. Our future depends on it!"

Now that's what's really going on: gathering intelligence in the market.