Based on a True Story (Part 2)

Richard V. is 55 years old. He grew up in a small town on the Mississippi River and started driving a truck before he finished high school. Here is what he has to say.

I come from one of them small towns you’re always reading about. In Missouri. We call it ‘the heartland.’ I think that’s right, like it’s the heart and soul of the country. Don’t mean to get all wishy-washy or nothing, but I just feel that way. Lots of folks around here do.

We got lots of farmland, all around. I can drive ten minutes in pretty much any direction, and I’m looking at somebody’s cows, or fields full of corn. But my dad, he was a truck driver. And that seemed good enough for me. So, my older brother, he went off to college, and I took up with my dad, driving his eighteen-wheeler, part-time, when I was still in high school. Ya might say I fell in love with it. I sure did. We got I-55 running there right alongside town. So, I got good access for the long hauls. My favorite part of it all is driving early morning, around sunrise. Cup of hot coffee, watching the dew come off the ground, like it’s some kind of … like it’s a smoke signal, a wake-up call or some such thing. It’s a new day, and I’m first to see it.

Politics? Well, I used to be a Democrat. Just like my dad, and his dad before him. Used to like what they had to say, looking out for the little guy and all that. But at some point, not sure when that was, I guess I just got tired of what they was saying after a while. It’s like, somewhere along the way, seems the Democrats lost their way. Nowadays, they just keep making the government bigger and bigger. And they can’t stop spending money, way too much of it. Acting like it’s their money instead of ours. I think that’s wrong. Cause it ain’t their money. Hell, I mean, I work hard.

I’m an independent. Independent contractor. Drive my own truck so, I don’t earn a wage, but I drive jobs for other people, and I pay myself at the end of the day. Bought my first truck from my dad. Then I bought my next one off him, when he retired. I like being my own boss. Wouldn’t have it any other way.

What I earn is mine. And it don’t grow on trees. And it don’t rain down from heaven neither. Sooner or later, you’re left having to put things right again. And now that’s what America has to do. Start putting things right. So now, I vote Republican. What they say about the economy, it just makes more sense to me. Less government, more freedom. I like the sound of that.

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Based on a True Story

As a mean-spirited 2016 campaign marches on, politicians left and right punishing each other badly, it’s easy to lose sight of one man’s ultimate responsibility for America’s sorry state. Thus, we begin a recurring series of profiles of the everyday, often forgotten, invisible American, all based on true stories.

William B. is 59 years old. He owns and operates a garbage and scrap reclamation business. He has owned his business for thirty-two years. This is what he has to say.

I love the smell of garbage. I breathe it in … breathe it out. The way it feels in my lungs. Makes me feel real … like, human. Reminds me where I came from. Hey, it’s my business, garbage. A guy could never stay in my line of work without being able to get along, with all sorts of people. I mean, you try collecting and selling, basically crap, for a living. (He laughs enthusiastically.) Know what I mean?

Lots of people coming at ya, from every angle … seems that way sometimes. But I know how to get along, how to make a deal with one guy, and make another deal with another guy. And they’re both good deals. Neither one … nobody wants the same thing. No two sizes fits everybody, know what I mean? So I take what one guy don’t want, and I sell what another guy does want. And it all works out in the end of the day. And I make a little money on the way. So, I basically make my living because everybody’s different, everybody’s got something they want to throw out. I like it that way. Because I can see past it, find the common element. Hell, you’re looking at it. (He extends his arms, acknowledging the mounds of garbage that surround him, where he sits on a wobbly chair at a small table).

I see these idiots in politics, they can’t agree on nothing. And Obama, hell, it’s like he won’t even shake hands with a Republican anymore. Unless there’s something in it for him … some kind of angle, ya know? I don’t trust his phony smile … nothing real behind it. Ya see this? (He extends his arms once again, and gestures as if to embrace the pungent air.)

This … is real. Obama … he ain’t.

What do you mean when you say he isn’t real?

Well, let’s face it … I mean I voted for the guy back when he ran, that first time. All that stuff he said he’d do for everybody. You know, like, make our healthcare less expensive. Yeah, right! Everybody’s I know has gotten more expensive … a lot more! Who’s the guy think he’s kidding? And … what else? … He’s supposed to get along with everybody. Make the different people, ya know on the left and on the right, sort of come together and all. And make things work. I mean, hell, we got big problems in this country. But that guy … he don’t get along with nobody … I mean nobody who ain’t in his own party. Just the Democrats. You can’t run a country with nothing but Democrats … know what I mean? So, I don’t know, I just don’t think this guy Obama is what he said he’d be. I think he’s something else.

So, what do you think he is?

What exactly … maybe … I’m hoping you can tell me. (He chuckles softly, then become pensive.) I mean, he just don’t seem real to me. He just … ain’t a real guy. Something phony about a guy who promised to be one thing … and then he turns out to be something else. That’s all I’m saying.