Small Town USA, Part 2
A town with but one school, K-12. The principal, who is also a teacher and the bus driver to boot. A little country town that doesn’t meet the population standards required to receive additional state or national aid. This is what my host wanted me to understand.
At the end of the conversation, I was invited to breakfast with everyone at the crack of dawn, literally. They meet up every day at 5 AM sharp. We took a golf cart around the corner, and I wondered why we didn’t just walk.
A knock on the wall of the coffee hosts bedroom and we were admitted into the entryway. She poured some Maxwell’s grounds into the CoffeeMate and struck the on button. Soon we three had filled our mugs and made our way to the back porch, overlooking an unkempt yard with scraps of wood and metal as common as the yellowed grass. Somehow a few chickens made their way through the jagged maze seamlessly, one even finding itself under the round table at which we sat.
We were shortly joined by the co-pastor and his family, his 22 year old daughter and his wife. His grand children had been dropped at a neighbors to play.
The burly pastor seemed to take up more room than he was owed, even though he sat with his right leg crossed up over his left, a bent figure four. His wife sat quiet, sipping every so often. His daughter, the picture of exhaustion, sat opposite myself, greedily gulping.
Words, at first, came in light strides. We spoke in monotonous tones about the weather and our plans for the day. Mine, of course, was to head out to Texas, and when this was brought up we spiraled off in other directions. I was asked where all of my things were being kept, to which I replied, “at my parent’s.” The answer I received was nothing but puzzling.
The co-pastor thought it necessary that I know that “parents really don’t like it when their kids keep all of their stuff in their house, trust me.” He informed me while shooting daggers at his daughter. My face contorted into a scrunching mix of confusion and disdain. I let him know, bluntly, that he clearly did not know my parents.
The mere thought of my being home gave my mother a beaming smile, a high pitch to her voice. I was not an inconvenience as the co-pastor seemed to think of his own creation, but a happy addition.
The conversation swayed further, the host skirting quickly around the corner in attempt to quell the pins and needles we all felt. She had recently been paid back a large debt, from an apparent recovering drug addict. The co-pastor had thoughts on this as well.
“We really need to stop helping these derelicts out, they’re only using our money to feed their habit and not adding a thing to society.”
Woah, I thought we were talking about someone who had just paid someone back.
My face at this point spoke more than any words could. Thoughts whirling like hurricane winds. Did I not hear him say, just yesterday, that we all need to make more of an effort to help our fellow man? What screwed up requirements did you have to meet to qualify for said help? From what I could tell, the simple act of needing help was an automatic disqualification.
I left the breakfast quietly stewing in thought. Reran the conversation over and over in my head on the three hour drive to Fort Worth. This is how elitism is born.
I envied my host’s strength, his patience. He could listen to this continuously and his only thoughts were about how to change their minds, how to show them what they were missing. He did not get angry and argue, instead he took action, bringing all of his guests to church, introduced this small town to diversity.
He even has plans to start a hostel, bringing even more culture. I pledged that if it ever does open, I’d be one of the first guests, that I would try to bring some difference with me.