Friday , April 19 2024

W. Md. Reacts to Katrina

Today’s theme ended up being less Labor Day than Katrina Day.

But I suppose that happened with lots of people this weekend as we think less about a day without work as people without jobs, let alone homes. After days of reading about the suffering in Katrina’s wake tonight I opened my eyes and ears to what is happening around me.

I’m writing this after attending an interdenominational service at my church where we read prayers about the disaster from different faiths, donated money, gave clothes, etc.

Two quick anecdotes from today:

As I drove through Hagerstown’s public square I saw a man in his 20s holding a large sign. I figured it was someone pushing a car wash or something. Instead it was a sign that read:

“How many more must die!? Ask President Bush.”

At first I thought he meant Katrina and I thought, well, that’s stretching things to blame him directly for Katrina deaths. Then I thought he probably meant the war to which I said, “amen, brother.”

I debated asking if I was right but decided not to. It was still a surprise – though a pleasant one – in the apathetic conservative region I lived and covered for about seven years.

Later I was at a gas station – gas is about $3.28 here – when I overheard this conversation:

So this guy says, “The gas is cheaper in West Virginia.” (We’re about 10 milies from the W. VA and PA borders)

I said, “Well, then go back there!”

He said, “You go back in the store!

“So I told him, “You want to complain to someone about the gas prices, complain to President Bush!”

Now ok, that’s not as much of a zinger as it seemed when it happened – and is probably more misdirected anger (as was the case here) – but for Hagerstown to have two Bush-related complaints in one day is pretty unusual.

Evidence perhaps of people becoming less apathetic? One can only hope.

If there’s a theme song in my head today, it is this. I had a CD that I was listening to and I’d forgotten that I had put this Bruce Springsteen song, City of Ruins, on it.

It was written about New York City post-Sept. 11 but seems to me to fit New Orleans as well.

About Scott Butki

Scott Butki was a newspaper reporter for more than 10 years before making a career change into education... then into special education. He has been working in mental health for the last ten years. He lives in Austin. He reads at least 50 books a year and has about 15 author interviews each year and, yes, unlike tv hosts he actually reads each one. He is an in-house media critic, a recovering Tetris addict and a proud uncle. He has written articles on practically all topics from zoos to apples and almost everything in between.

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