Living in Waynesville has some much envied advantages; the sense of community, charity and fellowship, not to mention a simpler lifestyle, reduced incidences of crime and the literal and figurative elbow room. Don’t get me wrong, we have our share of druggies, winos, sex offenders and petty thieves. After all this is the town where they arrested three men for operating a sadomasochistic castration dungeon, where a Baptist minister evicted nine congregants for not supporting President Bush, and of course, the animal control officer who felt compelled to shotgun Tom Gobbles, the town turkey, in front of a restaurant packed with patrons. It’s just that most of our horrendous news events wouldn't even make the back pages of some big city newspapers.
It is easy to get complacent here where they regularly close off Main Street for community street dances, where dining out is a social event to meet and greet your friends and neighbors, and where the serine beauty of the Smoky Mountains almost obscures of the dirty underbelly of human nature. That’s why it is refreshing when someone scratches the surface and lifts up evidence of the omnipresent societal slough for all to see.
A few weeks ago I shared a story on the social sites published by The Smoky Mountain News. It was a compassionate, even inspiring story of one of this town’s street dwellers and his dog. But the echoes of the story (in my head) are not the unfortunate circumstances that led to his homelessness, not about the help he receives from Meridian Behavior Health Services, or his own charity that he practices with the minimal Social Security income he receives, what echoes is the passage, “waiting for a cup of coffee at City Bakery in Waynesville, the 65-year-old stands patiently alongside tourists, retirees and locals. His clothes, shoes and beard are well kempt. He holds his head up high and there’s a smile on his face. These don’t seem to be your typical characteristics of someone homeless.”
It is almost like the writer was attempting to excuse the presence of the misfortunate in our picturesque Norman Rockwell setting. Are we to assume that we have a better class of homeless?
|From the Burr Studio & Gallery 136 North Main Street, Waynesville, NC 28786|
This blog post was inspired by a recent trip to Bi-Lo for a cucumber, a gallon of distilled water and a six-pack of beer (aren't Express Lines great fodder for the imagination). I elected to use one of the Self-Pay kiosks rather than wait in line while people tried to guess the correlation of my sundry items. I was looking up the produce code for cucumbers when the animated voice of the kiosk to my left politely asked, “Do you have anything under your cart? Do you have any coupons?” The seemingly benign lady who had just finished her purchase started yelling, “No. No. No! And I don’t want you to talk to me!”
I wasn't sure if it was a joke meant to amuse her fellow shoppers or a minor psychological detachment, but I knew I had to bookmark the event to use as a muse. Even in Waynesville…