Her ancestor’s protest against slavery

In February 1688, my granddaughter’s 10th great-grandfather Abraham op den Graeff, a Quaker immigrant to Pennsylvania, was one of the four men who signed the first American petition against slavery.

She’s only two years old now, but someday my granddaughter will read the petition and know that she, too, can stand fearlessly against wrong. She has inherited the responsibility to be on the right side of history. She’ll say what she knows is right and reasonable, and she’ll say it before others who should be leading have enough courage to take up the cause.

The first organized protest against slavery in the Americas began with these words:

These are the reasons why we are against the traffick of men-body, as followeth. Is there any that would be done or handled at this manner? viz., to be sold or made a slave for all the time of his life? How fearful and faint-hearted are many on sea, when they see a strange vessel,—being afraid it should be a Turk, and they should be taken, and sold for slaves into Turkey. Now what is this better done, as Turks doe? Yea, rather is it worse for them, which say they are Christians; for we hear that ye most part of such negers are brought hither against their will and consent, and that many of them are stolen. Now, tho they are black, we can not conceive there is more liberty to have them slaves, as it is to have other white ones. There is a saying, that we shall doe to all men like as we will be done ourselves; making no difference of what generation, descent or colour they are. And those who steal or robb men, and those who buy or purchase them, are they not all alike? Here is liberty of conscience, wch is right and reasonable; here ought to be likewise liberty of ye body, except of evil-doers, wch is an other case. But to bring men hither, or to rob and sell them against their will, we stand against.

Full text and image of original:

Quaker Protest Against Slavery in the New World, Germantown (Pa.) 1688

More of the story:

Four for Freedom: America’s First Abolitionists, an excerpt from The Mayflower Murderer & Other Forgotten Firsts in American History by Peter F. Stevens

You are Kroger’s employee training coordinator

And you thought you’d popped into the grocery only to pick up a half-gallon of milk and redeem your Kroger coupon for a free pint of ice cream. The ice cream will not be free, I assure you.


At the entrance to the Kroger store, I stopped at the kiosk to get a handheld scanner, but then I noticed a glamorous electronic sign saying I could use my app to scan grocery items and check out instead of bothering with the handheld device. I watched the step-by-step instructional slideshow there at the kiosk, then opened my Kroger app and looked for the barcode scanner. There wasn’t one.

Still standing at the kiosk, I phoned customer service for the Kroger app, and the Kroger customer service person who answered said she’d never heard of the barcode scanner feature in the app and also couldn’t find it anywhere.

A very young grocery clerk walked by, so I asked him what to make of the new signage explaining the barcode scanner. He shrugged his shoulders. He knew how the handheld devices in the kiosk were supposed to work, but he’d never been told a smartphone could scan the groceries. He pointed out the Kroger store manager.

The Kroger store manager explained that, even though I already had a Kroger app and a Kroger pharmacy app on my phone, I’d need to download a third Kroger SCAN, PAY, GO app in order to use the barcode scanner. He said I should have understood the obvious, even though the words SCAN, PAY, GO app appeared exactly nowhere in any of the SCAN, PAY, GO signage and instructions at the kiosk. (I had read them as verbs, not as a noun.)

I remained at the kiosk and downloaded my third Kroger app, and it launched, and then I gathered and scanned a cartful of groceries, including my free pint of ice cream. When I was ready to redeem my Kroger coupon, PAY, and GO, I hit the Cart button on my new SCAN, PAY, GO app.

The SCAN, PAY, GO app includes a submenu for coupons, but, alas, only for the fourteen other kinds of coupons Kroger issues relentlessly. I held in my hand four paper coupons that had arrived in the mail and astonishingly hadn’t already expired. If I’d valued my sanity, they should have gone in the trash. Nevertheless, hoping for the best, I scanned my first paper coupon, and up popped a warning within the SCAN, PAY, GO app indicating I’d need to take my burdensome paper coupons to the cashier at the checkout station, because I couldn’t use my new SCAN, PAY, GO app to scan Kroger coupons.

Undefeated, I steered my cart to the cashier’s station, and of course the cashier had never heard of the SCAN, PAY, GO app. She didn’t know what to do with my Kroger coupons. She called the manager. The manager also didn’t know what to do with my Kroger coupons. He advised the cashier to re-scan all of my groceries, which she graciously did, along with my four paper Kroger coupons, while I stood waiting with my useless SCAN, PAY, GO app installed on the phone in my hand.

I had to figure out for myself how to cancel my SCAN, PAY, GO debacle, because the app was expecting me to pay with SCAN, PAY, GO and probably was programmed to phone 911 automatically if I walked out the door after paying the human cashier instead.

Kroger coupons had become my bête noire, yet I continued to wrestle with them as though eventually they could be tamed. The next time Kroger sends something in the mail, it’ll go straight to the recycling bin unopened.

The Kroger Company seems to have devised a ruthlessly perfect strategy to ensure that its customers won’t miss Kroger employees after all of them lose their jobs to technology. Kroger simply makes its employees appear foolish. I’m looking past the helpless employees to the Kroger Company, and I don’t like what I see.