Jack is peering after the car moving out of sight along Porter Road: “Was a time when everybody would at least wave when they saw you. You and me, we’re gettin’ on hard days, Katie.” (As you read ‘Tulee Main’, you’ll see that Jack’s reaction has far reaching consequences for the man in the car).
To Jack, not offering a friendly word, or at least a wave, is a foreign act.
Now, Jack is a life-long rural Tennessee man, a little set in his ways and he’s talking to his dog for Heaven’s sake! That’s right, Katie’s the dog, but that doesn’t mean Jack hasn’t a point.
Jack is used to neighbors. The whole fabric of Tyson County is composed, mostly, of ‘neighbors’. The Mains, the Morgans, the Sluders; even Ann, the Laurel’s resident busybody, are linked together by multiple common links of family, marriage, location, thoughts and regional opinions. They’re neighbors. Some may not even particularly like others but they’re neighbors.
I think the behavior Jack’s puzzled by has far reaching consequences for us all. Doesn’t look to me as if our social connections have the solid basis they used to have.
We have ‘workplace associates’, ‘acquaintances’ and ‘fellow members’; we have a lot of relationships of one kind or another but, increasingly, we lack ‘neighbors’.
So – do you have to be a rural Southerner to be a neighbor? Certainly not. There can be - and I’m sure are – just as genuine ‘neighbors’ in the Bronx as there are in Tyson County or anywhere else. It’s the sturdy roots and ‘sense of place’ common to “neighborliness” that I think is missing; not the ‘goodness’ or ‘niceness’ (or political correctness) of the people rubbing elbows with each other.
I guess what’s running around in my head is that, in the past, I’ve seen and lived among a lot of social phoniness. Sorry to put it that way, but I think that’s what it is.
Whether it’s the ‘great friend’ that no longer seems to be around after you get downsized, the jovial ‘associate’ that appears to have just stabbed you in the back over the Cleveland opening or the brotherly ‘fellow member’ who doesn’t recognize you on the street after the homeowners association has found fault with you – there seem to be a lot of elbow rubbing not involving anything like ‘neighbors’.
I bring this up mostly because I’d like to hear what others have to say about this.
Comment at will.
(This post is intended to complement the narrative and views expressed in “The Passing of Tulee Main”. To learn more about the book, press the ‘Main Site Home Page’ link at the top of this post. (Beyond the on-site material there, the Nook, Kindle and Amazon links have sample chapters available to view.)