by Elizabeth T. Andrews
American Reporter Correspondent
November 11, 2007
HAVE YOU MET THE REAL AMERICANS?
CARTERSVILLE, Ga. -- I believe in Santa Claus. His name is Bob, or Ray, or Pack Rat ... and I believe in Earth Angels. Those that I know personally are called Thelma and Anne and Debbie and Belinda and Tammy and Mary Ann and Debra and about a dozen more that for some odd reason always seem to fly by if I need something.
And why, you ask, should that be of the slightest interest to you?
Indulge me. I'm taking you straight to our nation's Capitol ... and to a comfort blanket if you are as disgusted as I am with that lying bunch of bloated-on-caviar blockheads who occupy a White Palace paid for by the Santas and the Angels among us.
To understand my conviction that Santas walk among us and Earth Angels hover near, you need to know that I chose my current financially limited lifestyle so that I might write.
This "lifestyle" means typing with frozen fingers when the furnace sighs, lays down and dies; sitting in front of a fan with a wet towel and a bucket of ice water in July in order to save on the light bill; the grinding of teeth when the black ink cartridge runs out in the middle of a column that my editor says "I simply must have by Sunday night" and in living out a lifestyle I call "ragged poet living on one cent a word."
But I digress.
About 30 minutes ago my neighbor, Bob, knocked on my door long after dark and said "I heard you don't have any heat." He charged in with hardly another word, went to the wall thermostat, back to the furnace, pushed some buttons, made the trip again. Came then the whoosh of coveted warmth - and he departed as quickly as he came.
No $250 bill. No need, even, for my hug and big "Thank you!" He just did what the Bobs (an electrician, Jack-of-all-trades and many talents) and the Rays (a painter of houses, a devoted gardener and a handyman) and the Pack Rats (a truck driver that I barely know; friend of a friend, who fixed my fuse box and restored lights to my mansion twice) among us do. A neighbor down the road is in need of my expertise. End of story.
Well, not quite. Let's connect it to the nation's Capitol.
Our America is resplendent with ordinary, caring Santas, and brimming over with Earth Angels. On every street, in every neighborhood and every American community, such people far outnumber the drug dealers, the whiners, the small percentages of stark criminals that allow the pessimists among us to point and say, "See there. I told you America is going to hell in a hand basket." Not so, bro. Not so.
Before you start expecting the sound of violins to start playing in the background, allow me to say I am not oblivious to the national and international flood of insanities perpetuated on the good decent people of every nation.
Our own America draws its strength and image from such people ... Americans who gallantly survive buffoon presidents. Americans who get up after a Katrina, brush the mud from their boots, and go forth to make a new life for themselves without expecting a government handout. Americans who can and do survive bombings by insane radicals, crippling taxation, weevils in their oatmeal because the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) administers to nothing or nobody except themselves ... and Americans who will still be standing and still holding out a hand to a neighbor when the fat, rich hypocrites in Washington, D.C., and every state capital are scratching their heads, rubbing their bloated bellies, counting their gold, and wondering why they "can't get no respect" and why "them taxpayers keep on bitching 'bout taxes. Next thang you know they'll be expecting me to give up my private jet."
My personal deep gratitude and wonder at the plain ordinary Santas and Earth Angels who seem to appear out of a cloud when something in my "mansion" malfunctions ... my awe ... is rooted in having spent about 15 years crisscrossing the United States trying to make a living while protecting a golden child. We rarely got the chance to stay in one place long enough to know our neighbors' names, let alone hear the clatter of little hooves on the roof or the rustle of wings being folded as one more angel sets down on the front porch, knocks on the door and says "I heard you don't have any heat."
I am not kidding you. Let me give you one small example of many examples nationwide.
I live in a village of about 40 average, mostly retired or hard-working American families. About a year ago I started building a "peace garden" in my rather skimpy front yard. I invited anyone who needed a swing and a quiet place to retreat after a hard day to feel free to make themselves at home in my garden.
Behold and lo. Pots of wispy ferns, clumps of border grass, landscape timber, small statutes, a waterfall faucet, huge canna bulbs fit for a king, several birdhouses, and other goodies alien to my poet's budget ... all these found their way mysteriously to my garden. I'd open my door, mornings, and there would be one more contribution to the garden ... often from a neighbor whose name I didn't even know.
Why am I telling you all this? Why in the name of anything sensible would I assume you care to know anything at all about my garden or me, let alone a narrative about my neighbors?
Simply because when I despair, as I suspect you do, at the unmitigated mess our current president and his nefarious henchmen and henchwomen have made of a once grand worldwide American image, when I am making a sandwich out of my week-old bread and gagging over one more $45,000 raise to members of our FDA; and when I witness the current presidential campaign being carried out in the Political Theater of the Absurd, the Atrocious and the Asinine, I am left with little comfort save my unshakable belief that America is not represented at all by the fruit flies and buzzards in our nation's Capitol. America is the Bobs and the Rays and the Pack Rats and the bands of Earth Angels that hold families and communities together.
America means taking a bowl of homemade chicken soup and dumplings to a neighbor who has the flu ... and no job ... and asking "How can I help?"
America is a neighbor who goes every morning, without compensation, to water his landlord's cattle simply because he loves cattle, and because he lives on the property.
America is two or three strangers appearing out of nowhere to help unload a moving van, get a car started on a cold morning, or leave flowers on the front steps for the family members of a stranger who just died.
America is the women and men who get up every morning in every town and city and open our schools and our banks, our day-care centers, our libraries, our restaurants. They are the doctors we depend on, the fire departments that are standing by, the police men and women who kiss their children goodbye at the front door never knowing if they'll ever see them again.
And last, but never least, America is the women and men of the military who, like my own courageous daughter, wear daily a uniform that says quietly "Even if I don't agree with this horrible war, I am sworn to serve, and I will go when called."
That's what the real America is ... simple hard-working good people, forever full of hope that tomorrow will be better than today. They are all that is good about America. They are its heart and its life's blood. Families. Friends. Ordinary, decent, kind neighbors. The Santas among us, and the Earth Angels who wave as they pass overhead looking for someone else who might need them.
AR Correspondent Elizabeth T. Andrews is based in Cartersville, Ga. Her Website features her columns and poetry. Write her at email@example.com, or at P.O. Box 816, Cartersville, GA 30120.