Nothing Finer than Living in North Caroliner

Nothing Finer than Living in North Caroliner
Blue Ridge Smoky Mountains

Monday, March 14, 2011

Day 59 - Bike Week

So the International Event of Bike Week is finally winding down.  I imagine for the bikers that come from Portugal, or Spain, or Massachusetts it is a check mark off the bucket list. For those of us who live in the area it is pure hell.  The sirens of police officers and fire trucks start the minute they start to roll into town.  Photos of white wet t-shirts contests of scadly clad women pop up everywhere. We aren't talking about a few bikes here and there, there are more than 250,000 bikes in a 40 square mile area.  It feels like an invasion of our community. I can only wonder what the Hawaiin's think when tourists come to visit their tiny islands.  We vacationed in Oahu over ten years ago.  I learned the hard way about being one of these tourists, I was a "Howlie."

A Howlie is an "outsider."  And I kept thinking why it was so hard to find my way around a small island? Then I finally figured out that the locals were telling us to go North when the map clearly showed we should be going South.  Or when I stopped to ask a local for directions, they would tell me to go right when I had the gut instinct told me that I should've went left.  The locals silently protest their disdain for stupid tourists who can't read a simple map in this fashion. After all it is only a small tiny round island that only has only one central road.

In college we had a similar term for people who lived in the college town year round, we called them "Hoopies."  A Hoopie was someone who was from the area and would never leave.  It came from a couple of us who laughed at our hometown's obituary columns.  Helen Bee Ross passed away peacefully in her sleep at the age of ninety-three.  She wasn't from here as her parents brought here here when she was three months old.  So it didn't matter that someone had lived ninety-three years in a place if she wasn't born there, she was still considered an outsider never to be one of the Hoopies.

Do we do put people in groups different than ourselves purposely to feel superior to others?  Sometimes I wonder.  And often times I wonder if the right thing to do might be to treat everybody as if they belonged.  Really belonged.  Not the fake "southern hospitality" that is followed by "That's Nice."  Which is southern for "we could give a rat's a@@ about what you are saying." If we simply treated each other with the golden rule [Treat others as you would have others treat you.] people would genuinely start to act like they belonged.  No more Howlies, no more Hoopies, no more Us vs. Them.

The bikers as a whole were great this year.  I don't know if it was due to the economy that only the upper class wanna-be-bikers were here and the lower class renegades stayed home.  Maybe it was the good buddy system of not letting your fellow biker drive drunk and getting him/her to his/her pop up tent for a good night's sleep.  Either way I only heard one siren, and noticed that there wasn't any trash on the sides of the roads like there had been in past years.  I think the locals have finally figured out in this economy that we really need the bikers and their money to keep the rest of the year above water.  The locals have stopped saying "That's Nice" and started being nice. And in return, the bikers were a part of something bigger than themselves.  A community within a community.

“Community cannot for long feed on itself; it can only flourish with the coming of others from beyond, their unknown and undiscovered brothers.” ~Howard Thurman

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