Dear Madam Editor:
I submit the following for your consideration:
I got a double first cousin named Billy Ray who lives a couple of parishes over from us here in The Village**. We’ll just call it Saline Parish, not a real name but a real place. I only hear from Billy Ray when he needs something, but just dearly love him.
Not the sharpest knife in the drawer, but he was in the Navy, has a great heart and will stop and give you a jump-start or a pull outta the ditch for free. Drives a rusted out 2001 Ford 150 with a gun rack and a NRA bumper sticker, and lots of empty snoose cans scattered about.
Billy Ray called me a few weeks ago. Seems as though he’d been in a trash tussle over in Saline Parish and wanted some advice. I was happy to hear from him without needing to scrape up bail money and a junkyard dog mean lawyer, but after all I promised his mama I would look after him.
Here is the gist of our conversation (Dear Reader. Just for fun, when you see ME ya gotta think of the voice of Kevin Costner, but when you see Billy Ray, ya gotta think Larry the Cable guy OR Coach Ed Orgeron. I don’t believe there is any need to explain who he is.)
Billy Ray: Hey, Cuz, I pulled up to my dumpster *las’ week and the dumpster guy wouldn’t let me ‘trow my two bags ‘a trash in. Wanted me out the truck and said point blank: “ Do you have any Idee (Identification)??” I said ‘about whut’? Then he really got ticked.
“I gotta see yo drivin’ license.” Now I ask ya. What to do??
ME: Hmmm. Lemme see here. Was this a uniformed official or deputy or what??
Billy Ray: Heck no. Just the dumpster guy. No badge or uniform no nothin’. ‘less yu call a uniform Wrangler blue jeans, a Lynart Skynart T-shirt, Saints cap and a lite unfiltered Camel cigarette danglin’ outta his mout’. Now dat I tink about it, he was kinda dressed like me. Nothin’ wrong wid ‘dat.
When I get axed to show my drivin’ license, it’s usually by a po-leese officer, me. I know what ‘dat looks like. Besides, ‘day was a couple trucks ‘dare and he coulda got outta one o’ ‘dem fer all I no.
I tole him I jess wanted to get rid ‘dis trash and get back to mowin’ my grass, me. I tole him I lived in Saline Parish, best parish in all of Loosanna. He axed had I lived in Saline Parish my whole life. I said “not yet, me. And ‘dat made him mad, too.
Cuz, do you tink I shoulda showed him my drivin’ license?? I tole him I’d show him mine iffen he showed me hizzen, me He shore dont like that, not one little bit, no.
And to tink I did not have one crawfish head in ‘dem bags, no not one. Jess beer bottles, Fresca cans, coffee grounds and empty tuna cans and the like. They was not one isotope of Uranium in ‘dem bags. Regular trash.
ME: Well let’s consider what could have happened. We live in perilous times, Billy Ray. He might have called the Sheriff’s Office and some wore out, stretched too thin deputy would have been pulled away from real crime, and they is some real crime going on in Saline Parish, and had to deal with a dumpster issue. You remember I worked with the Sheriff’s Office on many occasions and they are good people. Not a good idea.
Besides, I shouldn’t have to remind you that you got into a scrape with the law over one of your ex-wives. Think it was Erlene. Something about stalking and relieving yourself on her lawn.
Billy Ray: Oh, come on Cuz. Gimme a break! It was Sue Ann and yu knowed ‘dem charges they was dropped. Besides, it was at midnight and in her back yard, right behind all ‘dem junked ‘frigerators.
ME: Ok, but that ain’t the point here.
Billy Ray: Ok. Den whut IS duh point? Ain’t they some kind of rights thingee? Can jess anybody axe to see yu driving license to jess dump yu trash? I be clearly missin’ somethin’.
ME: Indeed. But ask yourself this: Do you want to risk possible bodily harm or the law or something else just to dump two bags of trash….in a legal dumpster…in a legal manner? Good question. Simple answer: Nobody should have to. My man, things just aren’t simple anymore. And aren’t going to be.
Maybe you should just be glad that Dumpster Dan didn’t ask you for your vaccination record. Or better yet. Proof that you and Sue Ann are really divorced?? Ya gotta look on the bright side of this thing.
But seriously, Billy Ray, just don’t do anything dumb. Don’t know how else to put it. Now is just NOT the time.
Billy Ray: Cuz, yu jess a fountain of positivity. I should call you evar day me. Ya know what though? I got to feelin’ kinda sorry for Dumpster Dan, me. Looks to me like some parish official has put him at great risk. They did dat to me in duh Navy a lot. Somebody gives you a order that they theirselves cain’t, won’t and aint goin’ carry out, but yu gotta.
A Law Enforcement Officer or some official or agent is one ting. ‘Dis was something else. What iffen the next poor slob he axes for some Idee ain’t as nice as ol’ Billy Ray is?? Over two bags a trash. Tink about it. And besides, so many of ‘dose Dumpster Dans (or Dianes) is alone out there, and so many tings can happen to ‘em.
Cuz, you oughta be glad you live over in ‘de Village, you. ‘de Village has so many turists and ‘dat butiful Cane River and ‘de brick street and all. I bet nothin’ like ‘dis wood evar happen there, huh?
ME: Billy Ray. My man. You just keep thinking like that. Take that high road. Yo mama would be proud.
Madam Editor, I very much appreciate your taking the time to hear my tale of woe. Your readers are good people and I will leave it to them to draw their own conclusions.
However, I vividly recall the ol’ comic strip Pogo, that possum living in a swamp and dispensing sage advice on life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. In one episode, Pogo was lamenting the state of humankind by stating: “ We have met the enemy, and it is us!”
God bless the United States of America, the great state o’ Loosanna and the Village, and Saline Parish.
Old And Wore Out in the Village
*Point of clarification. It was a compactor station, but to Billy Ray every trash container across the country is a dumpster. A generic term, such as ‘get me a Xerox copy that .’
**The VILLAGE. Some of your dear readers may well remember Neil Cameron. Dr Cameron wrote a column for the Times for years entitled “Eye of the Cameron”. It was a little biting but thought provoking and somewhat enlightening, in a cockeyed but insightful way. He usually referred to Natchitoches as The Village. I dearly loved it.
Neil Cameron had a great wit about him. I sat next to him in a coffee shop one Saturday morning, and he was holding forth on the vicissitudes of life and sharing some of his great claims to fame, to wit: having been born and reared in Rusk County, Texas and flunking Mark Duper in Freshman Comp at Northwestern. I believe Dr. Cameron passed away recently.
Some of your readers may remember Mark Duper as a great Northwestern State University wide receiver who made it big in the NFL. The Miami Dolphins, ten years as an All Pro. They called him Super Duper.
I am saddened to report that Mark Duper has been diagnosed with CTE. Chronic traumatic encephalopathy. Too many blows to the head. Prominent neuro surgeon Dr. Julian Bales of Natchitoches was instrumental in the diagnosis of this issue and bringing it to the forefront of sports medicine and public health, especially football.
PS: Madam Editor: I apologize for the length of this tome. Too long. Probably too many run on sentences and dangling participles. I really prefer the style of Ernest Hemingway. Short, simple declarative sentences with meaning and relevance. I did not have the benefit of Dr. Cameron for Freshman Comp. Perhaps I should have.
And I should apologize for harkening back to events, persons, comic strips, terms and celebrities of a bygone era. It will send your dear readers scrambling for their search engines.I made a comment recently to a younger group of people about a friend who recently had a Damascus Road experience. They did not know what I was talking about. Alas.
And just one more thing. The term junk yard mean lawyer is meant as a term of endearment. I go to church with a lot of lawyers and I like them.
Just for the record.