We're all in this together.
Reminders can happen in the most unlikely places.
The other day at Twin Lakes, after my morning swim, as I surfaced from the cold water, I saw sitting at a picnic table, a relatively unkempt man placing some bait on the end of his fishing line. I pulled off my snorkel, bathing cap, and goggles, and threw my swim gear on the picnic table. I sat on the bench across from him.
“Hi,” I said. “Hi. I’m a redneck" he responded. I was stunned. I asked him why he thought himself to be a redneck, to which he replied he liked to be completely off the grid. He didn’t want anyone bothering him, or telling him what to do with his life and how to do it. He was building a house nearby that would be solar-powered. He wanted to be left alone, did not want any government interference with his plans, and thought this country was "goin' in the wrong direction." He was short on teeth, but his lack of teeth didn’t bother me one bit. I told him he didn’t sound like a redneck to me - “...sounds like you are a very smart man who is taking control of your life. That’s what it sounds like to me,” I told him.
He pointed to two boys swimming in the lake. “See those kids? They’re my nephews. They’re 9 years old - twins. You know what I did with them this morning?” “What?” I responded.
"I put them on my motorcycle and let them drive.," he said.
I was surprised. The adorable 9-year-old boys waved from the water. “Don’t you think they’re kind of young for motorcycling?” I asked him, “Hell no. I just let them drive around the yard. They had a blast. Their mother would kill me if she knew I let them ride my motorcycle, but she’ll never know.” He laughed and kept worm dunking (an expression I just learned from my new fly fishing friend).
Since it was very soon after the Texas school shooting, I asked him what he thought about guns and gun laws. “Do you believe in background checks?” I asked him, “Sure I do,” he replied. “I might be a redneck, but I’m not crazy."
“Do you believe in gun control?” I asked, “You bet your ass. What’s goin’ on in this country is sick. I blame the government for not doin' anything about anything that matters. And, I hate social media. I don’t have a cell phone. Anyone who wants me can find me. I like it like that. I don’t want a telephone, but I have one because my sister and her kids sometimes wanna reach me ‘cause they wanna come over and barbecue.”
“Do you like your family?”
“I love ‘em. Nothin’ like family to keep you real.”
I agreed with everything he said and thought that maybe if we all really listen to other peoples' stories we might find out we have a lot more in common with one another than we think we do. I picked up my swim gear and started back up the hill. Halfway up I turned around and said “You’re no redneck, and if you are, then I’m a redneck too.” He smiled and waved.
“Have a good day, miss.” “You too, sir. Have a great day."