April 5, 2015
Savannah Morning News column
In these halcyon days of psychedelic color, enough collards to last through May, and maybe an end to the annoying collection of sweet gum balls, I am grateful. Some day I may even make it to the weekly Gratitude in the Square happenings. A new week, another downtown square, maybe a group hug. I like the concept. I like that word. Gratitude. But I have questions. If we like our squares so much, why don’t we sit in them more? At last Sunday’s 90th birthday celebration for Flannery O’Connor, people were sitting. They were standing. They were talking. They were socializing. They were getting their faces painted. And not just tourists. There were locals.
For most of the year, the squares exist to show off our town, to host weddings and to raise a little revenue for the city when we forget to feed the meter or we inch over the yellow line. Except last Sunday was church day. That meant I could park beside a yellow line and not get a ticket. Church dispensation. That felt good. My shoulders dropped a few inches.
I am waiting for the man or woman running for mayor who will rid the town of parking meters. Think of the money we would save. There are 3,000 meters downtown. Why not turn these meter maids into ambassadors? Looking for something? They might ask. Let me help you. Think of the good will. Think of how the squares would look without meters. Think of the publicity for the town. I’m grateful for the squares. They’re beautiful. The city keeps them in good shape. I just wish we used them more. Right now they are more of a movie set than a convenience for citizens.
I’m grateful to the man from AAA who came to make a new lock for my truck when I returned home and couldn’t find my keys. He was skilled and fast. He’s been doing his job for 15 years, he told me. I just wish he made more than $10 an hour.
I’m grateful my local bicycle shop gave me a 10 percent discount on a new lock even though the only time I go into the shop is to get air in my tires not to buy anything. I’m just sorry we have to be so vigilant about locking up our bikes.
I’m grateful we have neighborhood coffee shops that will donate coffee for events such as Flannery’s birthday party and that we have an independent bookstore that will organize an event for local authors to sell books and not take any money from it.
I’m grateful so many people pay attention to city matters and watch city council meetings on television and that the 40-something crowd seems to be tearing itself away from jobs to do random Rotary projects. I’m just a little confused why more of them don’t run for office. Everyone, black, white, newcomer, native, young, old, knows the system is broken, the system is rigged. How many more decisions about Waters Avenue and the It’s Amazing store do we need to hear to come to this conclusion? I think there might be an election coming up. Yawn. Murray Silver is running. I think. Heard of him? Probably not. Run, Murray, run.
I’m grateful we have a school superintendent who has stuck around longer than the usual four or five years and that he or someone has decided to bring back chorus in the high schools. But what about music in the elementary schools? What about art and field trips where it doesn’t take a bureaucratic act of Congress to make it happen?
I’m grateful for new schools but what about all the people who ask me about the value of the pesos in New Mexico as if the state was not one of the 50 states? Seriously, when I was in Santa Fe I took a tour and the guide pointed out the letters USA on the New Mexico license plate. That’s because so many people think the state is part of Mexico.
I’m grateful we have a few bike paths but come on, people, we need more. The world didn’t come to an end when Price Street became a one-way street, did it?
I’m grateful every time a car stops when it’s supposed to and when a barking dog stops barking. I don’t ask for much. I’m grateful when someone drops off Easter bread, when independent Bernie Sanders gives it to his Democratic and Republican brothers and sisters, when a newspaper like the Indianapolis Star turned its front page into a powerful protest on the religious freedom front.
I’m grateful for the free tickets someone offered me to the Lucinda Williams concert. Except they were in row D, as in fourth from the front. That raised the bar. From now on I can’t buy anything less than that.
No one ever said gratitude doesn’t come with conditions.