One man's view of the world, from the top of this great big rock somewhere in the middle of God's Country, with an eye toward freedom....or at least some way to get back down without goin' over the edge.

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Location: West Virginia, United States

Former U.S. Army, SPC E-4, Veteran of Operation Desert Storm. If you are or have ever been a soldier, you have friends in my house.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Neighbors (or, The Other N-Word)

Apologies for the long delay (man, I'm saying that a LOT lately, aren't I?) as usual, with a few longer stretches of work thrown in for spice. Personally, I prefer black sesame, but what do I know?


I've been thinking about something for a while now, but it has recently been thrown into a new focus with the advent of the miners' tragedy here in West Virginia this week.

To start, a question.....What are your neighbors' names?

Seems to me that this is a very telling question indeed...and one whose answers tend to ask a question or two of their own.

I have two neighbors on my side of the street....a young family to my right, headed by an all-right guy named Jason who has a knack for outdoor decor, and an older lady to my left (whose name I completely forgot to ask) whose driveway I helped clear of ice and snow after a big snowfall last month. My wife had seen her struggling to get to her mailbox one day, and had asked me to see what I could do. No problem. It's amazing what a good pickhoe and a bag or two of rocksalt can do to an inch-and-a-quarter sheet of ice.
The lady in question had thankfully said she normally has a lawn man come out and see to it, but he was laid up for some reason, and she didn't have anyone else to come out for her.

Just across the street, I once had a older neighbor named Ralph, a Jehovah's Witness with a big family who had a habit of helping out when someone needed it. I clearly remember him driving me out to the store in his big van for extra food and supplies after the big blizzard that hit our area about this time two years ago, when my car couldn't take the hill we live on. He said he was happy to do it, as he was going to be picking his daughter up from work in that direction in any case.
They have since moved to Sandusky, Ohio, and I do miss him and his family.
Just this week, his house finally came up for sale with a local realtor. Wonder who my new neighbors will be?

I know the old gal just up the hill from me, too. Her name's Donna. I get my smokes from her in the local 7-11 a lot of the time. (Her dog doesn't like me much, though....but then he hates most everybody.)

It seems like second nature to me. Around here, neighbors see to each other when it's needed. We may not speak much on an everyday basis, but we know we're there when we need us. Nothing romantic or nostalgic about it. We just do.

Case in point with the people of Tallmansville, WV this week.

No one in their right mind -- neighbor or no -- would wish that kind of tragedy on anyone, much less the kind of emotional meat-grinder that happened when one guy from the command center got his signals crossed and gave his own neighbors exactly the wrong news.

But, as has been evidenced, that community -- as do many others in our area -- takes such tragedies in as their own, regardless of which of their numbers suffered, because they know it could just as easily have been their own husbands and fathers trapped down there....and that their own neighbors would be just as quick to do it for them.

In today's world, where the ratrace seems to rule all, it can be WAY too easy to forget about things like that.

It can be too easy to say to yourself, "It's not my business", or "They wouldn't want us meddling in their affairs"...or even, "What have they done for me lately?"

Well....what have you done for them lately? And does that question even matter?

To end, here's another question you should ask yourself, if your answer to the initial one was "I don't know"....

Why not?