A Facebook friend recently posted the 2016 Electoral College map showing all the red throughout the country surrounding blue specs. The blue specs represent the most populated counties while the red are mostly rural areas. We have a stark contrast in political views from our cities to our farmlands.
He called the blue specs a “cancer”. A lot of replies came quickly. Here’s a sampling starting with my fave.
“We’ve always known cal is all fruits and nuts.”
“I’m thinking would the border wall be more expensive than just walling in the cesspool cities.”
“I believe all of the red specs are trailer parks.”
Then there was this gem of stereotypical nonsense.
“It’s very simple. People who are accepting of those that are different from themselves are much more likely live in cities. People that only want to be with “their kind” live tend to live away from large populations. Tolerance and acceptance are the cornerstone of every policy, philosophy, and religion of peace. To be otherwise is to give a refuge to hate, fear, violence.”
This last comment was the most interesting and troubling to me. I’m left to wonder if this person has ever traveled outside the big city.
I was raised in the west in the small town of St. George Utah. I was born in 1960. The US Census in 1960 shows my little town had a population of 2,500. It’s a farming town but fueled by tourism. St. George is considered the gateway to Utah’s 7 National Parks. Zion National Park is a 40-minute drive. The Grand Canyon is 90 minutes away.
As an adult, I’ve lived in large cities. I lived in Tampa and Orlando, Florida, Santa Ana and Anaheim California. I currently live in the Greater Salt Lake City area. I have traveled the world both through the air and road trips.
One of the most shocking experiences my wife and I had was a trip we made to New York City. We drove from Washington, DC to New York and spent 24 hours in the city. We visited Central Park, Battery Park, Broadway, Time Square, the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, and many other sights. It was a jam-packed 24 hours.
We used the Subways of New York City but had no clue what all those colorful letters meant or where to go once we descended the stairs. We were scared. We were nervous. A few years before our trip, a big news story about a Utah family who were visiting New York for the US Open. On a subway, some black youths began harassing the mother. Her son, a 21-year-old young man stood to defend his mother and was stabbed and killed.
All we knew about New York City was what we saw in the news, which wasn’t flattering, and what we saw on TV shows, which again, wasn’t flattering. New Yorkers, as the media painted them, were rude, mean, unfriendly, and sometimes dangerous.
The first person we approached for help with the subway was a police officer. He was overly friendly and helpful. He walked us to the proper entrance, told us how many flights of stairs to descend, and sent us on our way.
We didn’t make it. We were quickly confused. Not wanting to ask someone for fear of be treated rudely by a salty New Yorker, we wandered aimlessly for a few minutes with no luck finding our way. Suddenly, a heavily New York-accented female voice asked, “Do you need help?”
We turned and saw a lady who looked like the stereotypical New York woman. She wasn’t smiling, in fact, she had a grimacing “bitch face”. Her look was luckily deceptive.
“We’re trying to get to Battery Park and have no idea which line to take or how to get to it if we did.”
“Oh,” she said sweetly and instructed us to follow her. We did. She led us down several flights of stairs and pointed out the correct platform and let us know the next cars would be there within 10 minutes. We thanked her and asked if we could give her something in return. She said no, and she was now in a hurry as her subway was up at the platform we started from.
We had to ask several other people for help with the subway system. Each person we asked, no matter who it was, black, white, Latino, Asian, it didn’t matter. Every person was pleasant and chatty and didn’t just give us directions, they took us where we needed to be. New Yorkers, we decided, get a bad rap. Our time there was very eye opening. We learned a lot about stereotyping people.
Fast forward several years. As Mormons, we had never visited what is typically called the first official headquarters of our church, Nauvoo, Illinois. We hitched our trailer, loaded a few daughters, and headed east. We didn’t even get out of Utah before our first set of problems arose.
We had a blowout on the trailer just east of Green River, Utah. I heard the pop and felt the truck lurch a bit. I have been a truck driver and pulled many trailers in my life. This was the first time I’ve had a blowout on a trailer. I pulled to the side of the road and walked around looking for the evidence of what I’d heard and felt. Because the trailer has dual wheels on each side, I didn’t notice the flat. The 2nd wheel made the flat tire seem inflated.
Finding nothing, I jumped back in the truck and started driving again. 10 more miles and I heard another pop and felt another lurch. Stupid me, I ignored it and decided to check things out at our destination. It was around 2 am and I was tired. So, I continued to drive. It took another 5 minutes when I saw some orange light in my passenger side mirror. I quickly realized I was seeing sparks flying from my trailer. I quickly pulled over.
When I rounded the trailer, I was shocked to find both tires not only flat, but the rubber was mostly gone and the rims highly damaged. The sparks I saw was from the rims riding on the pavement.
I quickly retrieved the jack from the truck and began lifting the trailer. It didn’t take long to realize my jack wasn’t ‘beefy’ enough to raise the weight of the trailer. I was stuck. My family was stuck. We were in the middle of nowhere Utah, 50 miles from any town or service at 2:30 am on a Saturday night / Sunday morning. We had been the only vehicle on the road and we didn’t expect many people to come by.
As I tried to formulate some way of getting the trailer off the ground, a pair of headlights appeared coming up the freeway. I was just getting ready to get up to try to flag down the driver when red and blue lights appeared. A Utah Highway Patrolman.
He pulled up behind me and after assessing the situation, he got in his trunk and pulled out a 1-ton floor jack. I was so relieved … until it was clear his jack wasn’t ‘beefy’ enough to raise the trailer. Although his jack couldn’t raise the trailer itself, it would raise it a half inch or so more than mine. Using teamwork, he would raise the trailer a half inch, then I would raise my jack to hold it in place while he raised it another half inch. It took about 20 minutes to raise the trailer enough to change the tires.
We were able to limp our way into Grand Junction, Colorado. We pulled into a Walmart parking lot and we were able to get a few hours of sleep before sunrise.
As for new tires for the trailer, welcome to small town America. This was Sunday. All the tire stores were closed. For whatever reason, all the tire stores were also closed on Mondays. Every Monday. Our choice was the Walmart Tire Center and Sears. Walmart didn’t have the proper tires. Sears said they did but didn’t have rims. SERIOUSLY!?!?!
We drove the main street for an hour looking for a tire store, hoping one would be open. No luck. BUT, at the last tire store at the end of town, there were vehicles and people in the parking lot. A huge sigh of relief rushed out of me. I pulled in the lot and approached the people. Before I even spoke, I knew the tire store was closed. I don’t know why these people chose the tire store but it was a family, what most people would call a “redneck” family. They were there to party and drink beer. At a tire store, in the parking lot. WHAT THE HELL???
I asked if one of them was the owner. Nope. Do any of you know the owner? Nope. Okay. Do any of you know if there’s a tire store open in town. Nope, and good luck because they’re all closed Monday too.
Great. Alright. Thanks. Enjoy your tire store parking lot beer party.
One of the men asked what I needed. I told him about my tires and rims, that sears had the tires I need but not the rims. He walked over to my trailer, pulled a tape measure out of his pocket (who the hell carries a tape measure in their pocket) and started measuring the distance between the lugs.
“Hey, I have some rims this size.” he tells me.
“Could I buy them for you?” I asked.
“No need. They just sittin around the yard. I’ll give em to ya.”
I tried to talk him into taking money but he would have none of it. The only catch was his yard was in Fruita, a 30-mile drive. We had nowhere to go so we drove back to the Sears and waited for him.
About 90 minutes passed when he returned. He handed me the rims, we exchanged phone numbers, and he was gone.
The Sears boys took the rims and began the work. We sat in the truck and waited. It was about an hour later when one of the workers came out to tell me there was a problem. The rims weren’t the right fit for the trailer. These guys had pulled all four wheels to replace all the tires. The two that didn’t fit were the last two they had done.
I quickly called the benevolent man and told him the rims were the wrong size and I wouldn’t be needing them. He was so apologetic. He came back, retrieved his rims, then consulted with the Sears boys. He came back and told me he had another set of rims he knew would be a match but, again, he had to drive back home to get them.
I told him not to worry, that he had already gone well above and beyond. NONSENSE. I’ll be back in a jiffy.
This time he was gone for over 2 hours. I figured he had lost interest and we weren’t going to be moving until Tuesday.
Suddenly his truck appeared in the parking lot. He pulled up to the Sears door, pulled two tires and rims out of his truck and dropped them off. When I got back there, I noticed the rims and tires were brand new.
“What’s this?” I asked.
“Well,” he started in his slow drawl, “when I got home, I found them other rims but they was the wrong size. So, I pulled these’uns off muh boat trailer.”
“They’re brand new!” I protested. “I can’t take these from your boat trailer.”
“You can and you will,” he insisted.
I knew I was beaten so I surrendered to his graciousness and accepted his gift with one final caveat. “You have to let me pay you for gas or something.”
“Well, if it makes you feel better, how about twenty bucks?” he said.
I gave him a crisp twenty-dollar bill, shook his hand, watched as he hugged my wife and daughters, got in his truck and drove away. None of us had a dry eye, even the Sears boys.
The tires were mounted and we were off, after buying a Craftsman (Sears brand) 3-ton floor jack. By the time we got out of Grand Junction, it was getting dark and we were tired. We could have stayed there but we needed the victory of being back on the road. We stayed in the small town of Rifle, CO, about 50 miles from Grand Junction.
Two stories. Two vastly different locations. People in cities aren’t more accepting than people in the country. People in the country aren’t more accepting than people in the city. We’re Americans. We give of ourselves. We accept others and celebrate diversity in our own ways.
If I were to generalize, my life experiences tell me that people in the city are caught up in the rat race of the city and find it easier to let the government help the less fortunate, and therefore support the more liberal agenda of the government. Their hearts are pure. They just don’t have the time. People in the country are more apt to give of their own resources to help people with their time and products and therefore take a more conservative view. Their hearts are pure and they have time. Neither is wrong. Neither is right. Both are acceptable in their own views.
What’s fascinating is when both sides meet and grow to understand the other. When that happens, they learn to love each other and abandon the stereotypes they’ve been taught.