I heard a long discussion last night about politics. Not about the election per se but more about leaders on a statewide/local level paying attention. Most folks I know are so over the election that they were talking about how they are personally making sacrifices due to rising gas prices shooting up over the past two weeks, and how people’s personal budgets have been impacted.
I have said before that probably my most favorite southern delicacy is pickled okra. Not the slimy kind but pickled. You could pickle a Ho Ho and it would delight me to no end. I’m a pickle person and I buy them like a maniac. In the past two weeks, I noticed that a jar of pickled okra went from $2.29 to $3.59. A jar of pickles (Klaussen kosher baby dills) went from $2.79 to $3.89.
Of course, I didn’t get them. I wanted them, but they didn’t jive with the budget. They weren’t necessary. I can do without a frakking jar of pickles. And yes, I’m making a point. It’s not about pickles but you guys are smart. You know where I’m going here.
For folks who don’t pay attention to the individual prices in their grocery budgets, costs are increasing. In cities, public transportation is an option. It’s not in rural America. There is carpooling but that’s not always conducive to getting from point A to point B. To get food to landlocked portions of rural America means that gas has to go in those trucks that bring it. It doesn’t walk here on it’s own.
I work eight miles from my office. I have been walking in the adjoining town I work at (and am feeling all saucy about it) because I’m in walking distance of city hall, the post office and my bank. No reason to crank up the car when I can walk a couple of blocks. But I am, for all practical purposes, on call so if there is a fire or an accident, I gots to motor. Part of the job.
Sometimes, I think Jeffraham has the edge on everyone with his scooter.
One of the women who works for me said due to gas going up and a property tax appraisal that had the price of her home jump about 15 percent, she is looking to eliminate things she doesn’t need. At the top of her list was her cell phone. This year she planted her own garden and thought that might help.
We are sharing food at the office. Some folks don’t eat if we don’t so we do. I wish I were kidding but I’m not.
People are making adjustments.
I heard a man say yesterday that he had gone to the doctor for tests. His portion was $2000 after insurance. The doctor said he needed to go see a neurologist (he never said what was wrong with him.)
He declined to go.
I asked why and he said “I don’t have the money. Whatever is going to happen is going to happen.”
“How much money are you looking at?” I asked. “I mean, neurologist sounds pretty big.”
“‘Coma,” he sighed with a faraway look on his face. “It doesn’t matter. There is no money to do this.”
All of this made us ponder about how our local elected officials as well as our state/national guys honestly do not understand the plight of people making lower middle class wages in rural America. This is what I know so that’s what I’m writing about. I’m sure it’s happening everywhere. People are making cuts to deal with extra taxes, higher gas costs and day to day living expenses. They are doing their part in small, and larger ways.
Whether it’s a jar of pickles, a cell phone, carpooling or, sadly, not seeking necessary health care treatment, people are cutting back.
With Mike Padgett and Bob Tuke running for Senate, I think a fine experiment for both of them, as most folks here don’t know what they look like or who they are for that matter, should go out among the natives here and not introduce themselves or ask for a vote. I think they should go and have a beer in a little juke joint or sit in the local restaurant where all the menfolk (yep, that’s what I said) meet everyday at 2 p.m. for coffee and listen to what people are saying.
Not talk at people but listen, really listen, to what average folks are saying. It wouldn’t work for folks already elected unless they went outside their districts (like Roy Herron or Lowe Finney going to Hawkins County or Steve Cohen or Nikki Tinker coming here) but for these guys, it wouldn’t be a photo op but a “real” exploratory effort to find out what rural Tennesseans are discussing.
Outside the comfort zone, and that campers, is what I’m suggesting and just for a couple of days.
We vote too.