In this blog, I am not the tourist but the tour guide and ethnographer.
I was on my way back from ten days of doing Vipassana mediation in Jesup, GA with a fellow meditator from Canada. He needed a ride to the Jacksonville airport and since I was going that way, I gave him a lift. We talked on many subjects but he was most inquisitive about one thing. He wanted to know what a redneck was. Seems they didn’t have any up in Ontario.
Having spent the last two days contemplating lovingkindness, I decided to soften my usual cynical description and carve a positive mental image of what a redneck is for my friend: They are caucasian and from the Old South and, therefore, have a distinct accent, which varies some from state to state. They are very religious and, by the way, if your are Buddhist, Hindu, or Muslim or Atheist or something other than Church of Christ or Southern Baptist, don’t bring it up. They are hard working and most are devoted parents. They are homophobic. Conservative in their politics, with the TV always tuned to Fox News. Each has his/her own favorite college football team and are very passionate about it. Most know the number of months, days, hours and minutes until deer season. Always, always drive either a pickup truck or an SUV. All are very polite. My Canadian friend seemed to take it all in ok but I sensed he hadn’t really understood.
I needed gas so I pulled off the 301 at a Shell station. After fueling we went over to the mini-mart to get refreshments. We were met at the door by a large man with a camouflage ball cap and tee shirt and blue jeans who had just climbed out of his old rusted white Chevy pickup, the one with the front bumper ripped from the frame. He smiled. said “Mornin” and opened the door for us. Like I said, very polite.
Inside, running the cash register and stocking shelves, were two women. While I went to get my first diet Pepsi in 10 days and the Canadian his first coffee latte, the guy who opened the door took up a conversation with one woman with a plaster cast on her left hand. Seems she had gotten into a fistfight with her spouse only a few days prior. I didn’t hear what caused the melee but I suspect alcohol was a catalyst. Anyway, sometime during the fracas, she broke a bone in her left hand on the husband’s face. She said the doctor called it the “boxer’s bone” because prize fighters sometimes fracture them in a match. She kept her descriptions clean for the most part being that it was Sunday and she was at work. The other woman took my money for the Pepsi and latte with a big smile and an enthusiastic “Thank ewe! Hurry back!”
Back in the car and on the 301, the Canadian leaned over and asked in a lowered voice, even though we were a quarter mile away from the station, “Those were rednecks, even the women, right?”
“Yep”, I answered. So much for “carving a positive mental image.”