June 1, 2012

The Glenn Beck Plot…

Category: News — Ira @ 6:17 pm

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…there was something there incredibly near and
most familiar, only a word, a stride, a room, a door
away — only a door away and never opened, only
a door away and never found.

—Thomas Wolfe
______________

It’s an understatement to say that I have some very strong political opinions. I’m a libertarian. And I’m not shy about saying it as I see it, now and then. Agree or disagree, I’m fine either way. I know what I believe. Doesn’t matter what the majority thinks. I don’t write what I think my readers might want to hear, I write it as I see it. Or try to, anyway.

There’s one area, though, where I’m the most apolitical person out there. I mean apolitical as in completely ambivalent. And that’s when it comes to readers of my book. When it comes to that, I’m the most agreeable person you could imagine. I cheer folks of every political stripe, from the Earth First crowd to Secessionists. And every shade between. Including, of course, the mainstream Democrats and Republicans alike.

I don’t care who you are, I want you to read my book. I’d be honored to give a signed copy to President Obama, and hope that maybe he’d carry it openly with the title clearly visible to cameras as he walked across the White House lawn to board the helicopter to his next golf game. I’d sign and give a copy to Nancy Pelosi. John Boehner. Harry Reed. Both ex-presidents Bush, George H. W. and George W. And Mr. William Jefferson Clinton, he’d get a signed copy too, if I could get it to him. I’m very much an across-the-board kind of guy that way.

How far would I take it, this political ambivalence? I’d even give a copy to North Korea’s new young little pot-bellied tyrant, Kim what’s-his-name. And hope that he’d decree that all his brutally oppressed subjects must also buy and read it. Well, maybe that’s going too far. No one should be compelled to read a book just because a tyrant tells him to. So strike that. But I’d sign a copy of Growing Up Amish to the murderous young Kim himself. And give it to him, free. Yep, I would.

I don’t care who you are, I want you to read my book. And talk about it in your world.

I’ve always been very shy, though, about aggressively promoting myself or the book. Through the years, I have never promoted this blog in any way. Never. I just sat at my old beat-up metal Army desk in a corner of my cluttered little living room and wrote, and let the chips fall. And the chips fell in some very good places. At work, I have a little poster of the book hanging in front of the counter where I take walk-ins. If a customer happens to notice and inquires, I’ll tell him. But I’d never call his attention to it. And if he wants a book, well, it just so happens that I always keep a case right there beside my desk. Twelve to fifteen bucks, depending on what I figure the market will bear right at that moment. And I’ll be happy to sign it. I’m very laid back about it all.

So it didn’t really hit me, right at first, when I heard the radio commercials a few months back. Glenn Beck was coming to town, right here in Lancaster on Friday night, April 13th. A banquet of some sort. He was giving a speech. Get your tickets now, the radio announcer’s solemn voice intoned. They will be sold out soon.

And I thought about it. How cool would it be, to give Glenn Beck a copy of my book? I mean, the man has millions of loyal listeners. I listen to him myself, now and then. Not as rabidly as I used to years ago. But still, I respect him and agree with much of what he says. He loses me when he mocks Ron Paul and his foreign policy. Irritates me a lot, that does. Slice that out, and I’d be a decently loyal fan. And I figured if he’d read Growing Up Amish, he’d surely be compelled to mention it on the air. Well, maybe he would. Maybe he wouldn’t. One would never know unless he somehow got a copy.

I mulled it over a lot. How could I get my book to him? Here he was going to be, in person, less than fifteen miles from my home. Seemed like there had to be a way, somehow. I instinctively knew it would not work for me to attend the banquet and try to hand him the book. Every man and his dog who’s ever written a book is trying to get people of Glenn Beck’s status to notice it. It’s all so desperate and hopeless, when you push yourself out there like that. And besides, I’m not one for big rah-rah banquets anyway. Don’t enjoy that kind of thing. So that was out. I wouldn’t go myself.

Who, then? Who could give him a copy? I had friends attending the banquet, and one or two of them volunteered to take a copy and see if they could get through. But still, it didn’t feel right. It couldn’t be me, giving him the book, but it couldn’t be just anyone else either. It had to be someone with some credibility. Who would be the most credible person to give Glenn Beck a book titled Growing Up Amish? And the answer just kind of slid into my mind.

An Amish person. That’s who would be the most credible. An Amish person giving him a book about the Amish.

I have many Amish friends in Lancaster County. Friends I hang out with because they are just that. Friends. And Lancaster County is different from any other Amish community I’ve ever seen or lived in. These people, at least the ones I hang with, know what’s going on. They are intelligent, wary, street smart.

After I figured out the ideal conduit to get my book to Glenn, I immediately thought of the ideal couple. Good friends of mine. Young, thirtyish. With young children. Dave and Anne. I’ve known Anne for a long time, since she was a child, through her family. After she married Dave, I got to know him too. He runs his own small manufacturing shop. He’s a realtor and a real estate investor and shares his insights now and then. He’s always moving. Shaking. Connecting, always connecting. So I called him on his cell phone. Yep, in Lancaster, as in many other Amish communities, cell phones are grudgingly allowed. For business, and such. And Dave is among the most wired of all the Amish in the land.

He answered. Dave here. And I launched right in. Did you know Glenn Beck’s coming to town for a banquet? He’d heard something, but hadn’t paid much attention. He had several of Glenn’s books. And I told him. I’m trying to get my book into his hands. If I bought tickets for you and Anne, would you take a copy and give it to him? Dave seemed taken with the idea. Free tickets. Free banquet. All he had to do was slip a book to Glenn Beck.

“Let me talk it over with Anne,” he said. “I’ll get back to you. But yeah, I’d say we’d be into that.” Great, I said. It’s next Friday night. Let me know.

And he did, the next day. Yeah, they would love to go attend the banquet and help me carry out my little plot. No guarantees of anything, though. He’d do what he could. All right. I had found the source to get my book to Glenn. Now for the tickets. Those were all sold out, long ago. So I called a local businessman, Jeff Smoker, owner of Smoker Door Sales. We deal with Jeff a good bit at Graber, buy Overhead doors from him for our buildings. It was time to call in a little favor. After hearing my request, Jeff was most agreeable. Yes, he had bought several very good tables up front, close to the stage. “I’ll gladly sell you a ticket,” he said. “So you can give your book to Glenn.”

No, no, I said. I’m not going. That won’t work. I don’t want to be anywhere close to the place. Every writer tries to push his book on people like Glenn. I’ve got some Amish friends, a young couple. They said they’d go and do it for me. I want to buy two tickets for them. And Jeff was instantly intrigued. Pulled into the excitement of the plot.

“You know what?” he said. “I’ve got a few VIP tickets left, to go in the back room and meet Glenn. I’ll throw those in for free, to help you out. And tell Dave and Anne I’ll pick them up and take them with me on Friday night.” And just like that, it all fell into place, better than I could have dared to hope. I had the right people. I had access. Now, plan out the details and see what happens.

I stopped by to see Dave and Anne that Tuesday after work. Sat at their kitchen table. We talked. Plotted. Connived. I want you dressed in Sunday finery, I said. Wear your “Mutza” suit coat. White shirt. And Anne, look as Amish as you can. Bonnet. Halzduch. The whole works. And then they offered something I hadn’t thought of. They would give Glenn one of their copies of the book, a copy I had signed to them. That way, the gift would be from them, not from me. I left, feeling mildly exuberant. Hey, when there’s a job to do, get the right people to do it. That’s what I’d just done, I figured, for a mission such as this.

Friday evening rolled around, and I went to the gym as usual. Little ripples of tension pulsed through me. It would be happening right around 6:30 or so. That’s when the VIPs would get to meet Glenn for pictures. After my workout, I went home, ate my supper, then sat at my command center, my computer. I felt like a devious spymaster, in hood and cloak, behind the scenes in the shadows. I’d pulled all the right levers, seemed like, for a covert operation. Now everything depended on the people I had chosen for the task.

The minutes passed. It should be happening about now. I sat there. And then my iPhone beeped. An instant message. I pawed at the screen. From Dave. A few brief words. “Mission accomplished.” And I sat there as relief flooded through me. Whatever else happened or didn’t happen, Glenn Beck had my book. In his hands. There’s not a whole lot of people out there who can say that. I texted back. Thanks much. I’ll stop by for a full debriefing tomorrow sometime.

The next day, around mid morning on a Saturday, I pulled in. Dave and Anne met me with smiles and coffee. They still seemed on a high from what they had seen and done the night before. And he told me in detail how it came down.

They arrived early and got in line to get into the back room. Jeff slipped in first, to case the joint. He saw they were confiscating everything. Many people had brought books Glenn had written, for his signature. But this was immediately nixed by security. They were here to meet Glenn for a few seconds, to get their pictures taken. Nothing else was allowed. Put everything in these boxes here. Books. Purses. Jeff quickly texted Dave. (My team in action, there.) Hide the book, or they will seize it. And Dave tucked the book into the inside pocket of his “Mutza” suit coat. And there it remained, undetected, as the line slowly moved forward. When they entered the room, even Dave’s hat was confiscated. You can’t take anything in. Nothing but yourselves.

The room was full of eager fans, all lined up. As each person approached Glenn, they shook hands and turned to the camera man, who snapped a picture. Budda boom, ten seconds or less, just like that, and then move on out. Lots of people here. Keep the line moving. Security hovered everywhere.

I’ve seen Dave in action many times. He’s friendly, charming and outgoing. Not afraid to talk to anyone, anywhere. But he admitted that as the line slowly snaked toward Glenn, and it was time to walk out to the spot where it would be their turn next, he shivered a bit inside. Steeled himself. What had he gotten himself into this time? Or more accurately, what had Ira talked him into this time? Those thoughts, and many others, he said, flashed through his head. And then it was their turn to approach the man who was the target of our plot.

I give Dave a lot of credit. A lesser man might well have shriveled under the pressure. Might have just smiled, shook Glenn’s hand, and turned to pose for the picture. But not Dave. He and Anne walked up and he positioned himself so his back was actually turned to the camera. Anne stood beside him. They were Amish. Not here for a picture.

Glenn smiled and greeted them, probably the first Amish people he’d ever met. And Dave boldly plunged in. He smiled back. Shook Glenn’s hand. “Hi, I’m Dave. This is my wife, Anne. We’re not here for a picture. We came to give you a gift.” And he reached into his suit coat pocket and pulled out my book. Security guys almost lunged in for the tackle, but drew back when they saw what he held. And my friend Dave offered a copy of Growing Up Amish to Glenn Beck. And Glenn Beck took the book from his hands.

“This is Amish country, and I thought you might want to know a bit more about us.” Dave continued. “This is the most authentic book out there, if you want to know the inside story of how it can be. How it really is for some.”

Glenn responded with one word. “Fantastic.” A tap on Dave’s shoulder then. Security. Time to move on. But amazingly, Glenn waved his guys back. And chatted with Dave and Anne for another ten or fifteen seconds. And then they turned and left him. Mission accomplished. I don’t know if their knees were weak as they walked away. Mine would have been.

They enjoyed the banquet and Glenn’s speech later, of course. But the real rush of the evening came from smuggling in that book, and getting it to where it was going. We sat there at their kitchen table and talked, glowing in the success of it all. It felt pretty good. We had done it.

Sure, to some it might seem devious, maybe even to Glenn himself if he ever finds out what we did. But people at his level must inherently know that an incident like that doesn’t just happen. Nothing is innocent, however much it might appear so. People plan and plot and scheme, to get their stuff into the hands of public figures. And that’s what I had just done. Planned and plotted and schemed. I just happened to know and enlist the right people to actually pull it off.

The following Monday, I listened to Glenn’s show, as best I could with everything else going on at work. And toward the very end, in the last segment, he talked about his Lancaster experience. And how he met this nice young Amish couple. How they thanked him, for generally supporting the Amish. He seemed puzzled. How in the world did these Amish folks know of him, know who he was? You don’t know the Lancaster Amish, I thought to myself. I waited then, holding my breath. But he never mentioned my book. Not a word. Which was about what I’d expected. But still, after the triumph of the plot, it was a bit deflating that it didn’t play out all the way like it could have.

It still might. The way the book’s been looping down some wild and crazy roads, this episode might well yet bear some fruit. Maybe if Glenn or one of his minions reads this blog, and sees the humor in what really happened. How a few simple country folks, all from “Plain” background, connived so successfully in their little scheme. So if you do read this, come on, Glenn. Give my book two minutes. Or five. Or better yet, have me on your show sometime. I can answer every question you’ve ever had about the Amish. Without even thinking. Because that’s where I come from.

But if you do none of those things, just know this much. The covert quest of getting my book into your hands was a grand little adventure for a small band of plotters in Lancaster County.

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(22 Comments) »

  1. Great story, I just hope the TSA doesn’t get wind of this smuggling operation – the Amish might have to get to the bus and train stations two hours early for security checks.

    Comment by Pizzalady — June 1, 2012 @ 6:53 pm

  2. lol! I would have attended the banquet, just to watch that scene play out! Who needs theatre anyway? Good on you, my friend! I hope Glenn gives you air time! Too funny!

    Comment by Trudy Metzger — June 1, 2012 @ 6:55 pm

  3. Ps. You didn’t happen to leave a Pingback to him somewhere, did you? ;)

    Comment by Trudy Metzger — June 1, 2012 @ 6:56 pm

  4. This is too much! I have wondered how you managed to accomplish this. Your talents never cease to amaze me.

    Comment by LLJ — June 1, 2012 @ 7:44 pm

  5. Phlegmatism at it’s finest.

    Comment by Rhonda — June 1, 2012 @ 8:14 pm

  6. Ooooh, good one! Sounds like an Abbott and Costello sketch – or maybe Lucy and Ethel. Next step, send him a picture of you holding his book, saying some Amish couple gave it to you. He’ll get a kick out of it and bada bing, bada boom, you’ll pique his interest and the rest will be history. Good luck – lots of fun ways to do this. :)

    Comment by BethR — June 1, 2012 @ 10:00 pm

  7. You have that scheming Wagler blood flowing through your veins. I have seen it before in Aylmer and Cookeville… and I never cease to marvel at what you all come up with and get done… Go for it.

    Comment by Katie Troyer — June 1, 2012 @ 10:32 pm

  8. I think he’ll read the book in appreciation for the scheme you worked out to make sure he had a copy. Clever and so funny.

    Next week, we’re off to Knox County, OH, which is next door to Holmes.

    Comment by cynthia r chase — June 2, 2012 @ 6:55 am

  9. One thing about literature (i.e.- a book): it can sit around for a long time on a shelf or on a pile or under a car seat… and then, for some reason it gets picked up, read, and shazam!… it starts getting talked about to all who will listen. I predict that if Glenn hasn’t read the book yet, he will. He’ll sit down some day, look around, reach over and randomly pick up your book, look at the attractive cover, leaf through it, start reading the first page… and like most of us who read it, he won’t be able to put it down. So… when you tune into Glenn’s show and he’s “out of town” for some unknown reason, take heart! He started reading your book and he can’t put it down- he’s late for his own radio broadcast! The next show will be Ira Wagler Day on the Glenn Beck show! (I can’t wait!)

    Comment by John Schmid — June 2, 2012 @ 2:18 pm

  10. What would the chances be that GB had already found a “Best Seller” (being well read as he is) before his trip to the garden spot, just a thought.

    I read this blog with the same apprehension I felt reading GUA…. keep it up, Ira.

    Comment by Willie E. — June 2, 2012 @ 8:17 pm

  11. I love it when a plan comes together.

    Comment by Eli Stutzman — June 2, 2012 @ 9:54 pm

  12. President Ira Wagler………That sounds pretty good, don’t you think? If you ever run, I’ll campaign for you. I always tell people, what we need in Washington is some good Amish people to straighten out the mess.

    Comment by Warren — June 3, 2012 @ 7:02 pm

  13. Brilliant column.

    You know, Glenn Beck didn’t have time to read that book in that short time, given preparations for the next show and such. When he does, and as it settles, I can imagine he might even give you a call. It would certainly boost his ratings, if he knows anything about the extensive connections of Amish, ex-Amish, and the neighbors that honor them.

    One last note: Ira … that whole thing sounds like a kooky conspiracy theory, about it taking so much planning to get the book to him and all. You really expect us to believe there are conspiracies? Naaaaw.

    Comment by LeRoy — June 4, 2012 @ 1:53 pm

  14. Definitely a Lucy and Ethel scheme– too funny! Hope Glen reads the book– I imagine he will. I’ve read my copy 3 times.

    Comment by Bev B — June 14, 2012 @ 12:40 am

  15. Hilarious. Great story-telling…….the ex-Amish guy conspires with a few Old Order Amish to get his book to Glenn Beck! Move over Illuminati, Jesuits, Freemasons, Mormons and Rothschilds, there is a new cop in town.

    Seriously though, the LORD may someday use Ira’s book to help lead Beck out of Mormonism. That religion does reject the Holy Trinity–the eternal Deity of the Lord Jesus Christ.

    Comment by e.s.gingerich — June 15, 2012 @ 2:13 pm

  16. OOOOH! Gotta love it when a great plan comes together! Congrats on getting your book into GB’s hands! He’s a reader, and he’s curious and likes to learn…I am sure he will read it! God bless! Elizabeth Hansen, Chester County, PA

    Comment by Elizabeth Hansen — June 15, 2012 @ 2:46 pm

  17. Good story! Your book is fabulous, my husband and I read it! Very interested in the Amish way of life! Hoping someday I can visit an Amish community. Interesting they have iPhones, would have never thought.

    Comment by Trudy Braun — June 15, 2012 @ 6:30 pm

  18. I love it!! What an exciting plot! I can’t wait to see what comes of this.

    Comment by Emma Gingerich Keen — June 23, 2012 @ 7:05 pm

  19. I have just finished your book which was an interesting read.
    From the way you write and present your thoughts in your novel I would assume you are an upright, broadminded and compassionate man and therefor it baffles me that you would want to be presented with your work by Glenn Beck.

    I do not live in the US so I don’t really watch Fox news, but his comments about the young people massacered last year at Utøya in Norway was horrendous and reached around the globe. Your book is far too good to be presented at any show he hosts.

    Ira’s response: Thanks, Lisa, but you are allowing your politics to obscure my message. Go back and read the beginning of this blog again. The first five paragraphs or so.

    Here’s what I wrote: “I don’t care who you are, I want you to read my book. And talk about it in your world.”

    When I write something, I mean it.

    Comment by Lise — June 30, 2012 @ 10:30 am

  20. What a grand plan! I loved how it all “came down”! Great outcome for you and hopefully, Glenn Beck!

    Comment by Doris Vetter — July 28, 2012 @ 9:32 am

  21. Glenn Beck?

    Comment by Francine — November 26, 2012 @ 3:00 pm

  22. Fun story! Stay tuned.

    Comment by Sho — November 21, 2018 @ 1:25 am

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