Let me explain. I AM, and always will remain a proud Canadian. I am not a U.S. citizen, don’t want to be and have no need to be.
I DID live in the U.S. for a time when I was a kid. Dad landed a cool job in Miami so the entire family moved down south in 1968. In school I learned about American history, and the Star Spangled Banner. And I knew it was a dark time for the U.S. as literally months before we moved down, Martin Luther King was assassinated (April) and Robert F. Kennedy (in June). The Vietnam War was still raging.
Alot of stuff to take in as a kid. I was 11. My siblings were younger. We were in a new land, in troubled waters at the time.
But my point is…
In spite of all that, our neighbours were nice. My classmates were great. People were friendly, welcoming, and helpful. In spite of the dark headlines of that era, average people of the everyday chatted with each other about the weather while in line at Winn Dixie, and what Phil Donahue had to say that day on TV.
Then, as now.
Last August, I flew down to Georgia with my Dad’s remains to conduct his funeral. A friend and neighbour of my Dad’s took me in, and he and his wife hosted me in their home for a week. People in the small town of Saint George (an intersection, really, just above the Florida State line…), dropped what they were doing to help.
That hospitality continued when I got home at the start of September and I found out I was named as my father’s Executor for his U.S. estate, as well as here in Canada.
That means I’ve had to handle everything stateside by long distance. Over the phone. Over the internet.
Not as easy as being there.
But here again, people are helpful and friendly. Over the top, actually.
The best example of that is when my Dad’s post office box was in danger of expiring. Were it to expire, his mail would be bundled up and shipped off to God-knows where. The only way to renew it by the deadline was to do it online. But that proved ineffective, and I had no choice but to fill out an event ticket and hope the big, bad U.S. Postal Service would get back to me in time. I wasn’t holding much hope.
But I got my response within the hour. The Postmaster of nearby Folkston – who also looked after Saint George – did what she could to walk me through what appeared to be an issue-laden website not exactly set up for non-U.S. folk like me.
“So here’s what we’ll do,” the Postmaster, named Deborah, said. “It’s $23. I’ll drive over tomorrow with $23 and pay it to keep the box open, and you can pay me back when you can.”
This is the Postmaster, not an assistant. And true to her word, she did exactly that.
I’ll be driving down for two weeks, leaving the first of the month. I have much to do. And everywhere I turn, here in Canada, people say “aren’t you nervous, with Trump and all?”
And my answer is, no. Because people are better than that.
And where I’m going is deepest, rural Georgia where everybody has a locker full of guns and no one checks their mail without a handgun in their pocket. This is the Deep South.
And yet, the people I will meet and be working with are not from Trump’s America. They are proud, hard-working people who are welcoming, and generous. Friendly. They have empathy. They also loved my Dad, which helps alot. That means they love me, by default (unless I give them a reason not to, of course…).
It is, overall, scary times in America. There have been a string of grievous, senseless tragedies. And then there is Donald Trump, who has his supporters (my Dad, for one, before he came to regret voting for him) as well as his detractors. Is he a fitting President? Is he worthy of The White House?
The U.S. has voted in leaders of questionable integrity in the past. America survived Nixon, only to bask in the aw-shucks integrity of Carter. There was Clinton, Bush Sr. and Jr., and Obama.
There have been great leaders, and not-so-great leaders. And that won’t change. Canada has been in the same boat as well. We’ve also had some terribly unsettling headlines in our history, not unlike those that have come out of the U.S.
But people of the everyday in my U.S. world these days – like Jack, and Tina, and Renee at the bank, Don, Terry, lawyer John (himself a proud veteran of the Vietnam War), Deborah and Ryan at the Post Office, Tommy, Don the accountant, Pastor Larry…are above Trump. Above the headlines. Proud Americans who wouldn’t hurt a fly, and give of themselves to help a friend – in my case, even a stranger in need.
It’s going to be hard work. Lots to do. Estates are like that. But am I scared going into the U.S.?
No. Because of the people I know will be there to welcome me, ready to pitch in and help – as they have been doing now, for the past year.
It’s not about Trump’s America. It’s about the real, hard-working people who make the everyday happen and coax it to a successful conclusion at day’s end, in spite of the headlines – instead of being defeated by them.
By the way, that’s me in the shades, sitting beside my sis, holding my youngest brother. It was 1969. My late father on the right.
I was 12.
© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.