I spent the weekend in West Tennessee, visiting friends and causing havoc (you can, unless
click to enlarge
you're my Mom, read all about it here
). I talked to a lot of folks in a lot of bars and restaurants and gas stations...
No, I take that back.
I talked with few folks in bars and restaurants, because there were few folks in those bars and restaurants. The interstate was busy and whoever is running Loretta Lynn's Dude Ranch
needs to be brought here by car to testify before the State Legislature, because the Pilot at that exit was busier than anything I've ever seen. I had to wait to park, wait to go to the bathroom, wait to buy my Diet Dr Pepper, and wait to get out the door to get back to my car, and the woman at the cash register said it's been like that all summer.
Everyone in the goddamn universe seems to want to go to Loretta Lynn's Dude Ranch and you can tell the locals are happy to have folks come and spend money and keep them employed.
I know we can't do anything about it this year, but how about next year we just change the name of this place to Loretta Lynn's Dude Ranch and State of Tennessee, put those folks in charge, and those of us who don't have jobs can get work selling beer to tourists.
Shoot, if that's too much for one country legend to handle, we can split the state in two and give half of it to Loretta Lynn and the other half to Dolly Parton and we'll all go work for them.
Which brings me to my second point. A lot of people in our state are really barely hanging on. I went into a restaurant Saturday at lunch and it was completely empty. This was, in retrospect, probably not that surprising, because I was pretty much the only person on State Road 22, which at one point previous to Saturday went places that needed a four lane divided highway to bring people to it.
I talked to people who are trading left-over antibiotics with each other so that folks don't have to make expensive trips to the doctor and then to the pharmacist. I spoke with a person who is avoiding going to the doctor because he or she doesn't want to have to know about any "pre-existing" conditions should he or she ever be able to afford health insurance.
And I talked to people who had lost their jobs or thought that losing their jobs was coming, who were talking about picking up the whole family and moving to the city to try to make a go of it there, where there might be some kind of work of some sort.
I know y'all know this but I was sitting in a very conservative area with gun owners listening to them all shake their heads about the whole "guns in bars" thing. Yes, some folks were against it; many folks thought it was fine and dandy.
But everyone I talked to about it talked about it like "we don't have jobs and they're busy in Nashville with that 'guns in bars' crap." Granted, all I have are anecdotes and anecdotes are not data.
But everyone who talked about it was using it as a kind of short-hand to talk about how the Legislature had its priorities completely screwed up, even people who thought the specific "guns in bars" bill was a good thing.
I don't know what to make of that. I know a lot of anti-gun folks here in Nashville have been carrying on about how the Legislature is passing gun laws like they're going out of style when they should be focused on other things.
But that's kind of the anti-gun shtick.
I was surprised to see that that idea has taken root even among some gun owners.
I wonder how much traction that will have come election time? Surely the Legislators passed those bills, even as the State was crumbling, because they thought they'd be popular with most Tennesseans, who are, of course, mostly very pro-gun.
But now I wonder if things are so bad that the gun legislation seemed too much like pandering instead of setting things right, since, of course, all over the state, things still aren't right.