Saturday, April 21, 2012


Just went to drop off the comforter and get it cleaned, since I don't have a washer big enough, and it's high past time. It's a gray, chilly Saturday, the kind that inspires baking things and hot tea to warm the house and soul, and the streets were no busier than a middle of the working day on Thursday.

As I parked near the little storefront for the cleaners, a slim, impeccably dressed Asian woman came to the door and watched me. As soon as I opened the back door and got the mass of cloth out, she had the door wide open, letting heat out with a smile on her face. "Welcome in! Welcome in!"

I walked in to find a very neat, clean shop with every spare surface crowded with photographs of family, and the woman whipped behind the counter. She was eager to pull out a pad and get my information, and when I pulled cash out of my wallet to pay, her eyes sparkled. "When do you need it back?" She asked, and her smile grew into a wide grin when I shrugged. "Wednesday, yes? You good customer, in no hurry, I love you! Is first time here?" And insisted on shaking my hand, introducing me to the family in the photographs, and proudly proclaiming her citizenship and her business's history.

I thanked her very much, and walked out smiling, but there was a little chill going up my spine.

More and more, lately, though, business owners and employees alike have been standing at the doors of their empty shops, ready to greet me, welcome me in, help me however I can, and could they carry my items out? For all their helpfulness, their excellent service (whether I want it or not), I find myself reminded of a wake. Where the survivors are saying "See this man, and hear my story, and share this memory, make him real and alive to you as he was to me."

See me, see this business I have built with my own hands, let me shake yours. See my family, I support with it, see how long I have been in business, see how I am part of your community and love your country. See me, and come back, please, and often. Please. Please.

There's a little chill thought that won't go away. A little voice in my head whispers, as grey and aching as my old injuries: This is not a healthy country.


  1. I fear you are right. I've noticed not only a lot of closed up storefronts, but a lot of churn in the storefronts that remain open. If people can't keep a business open without frequently changing the business, it means there aren't a lot of safe business models left.

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  3. Concur with DB, there is a lot of that happening everywhere, and every month or so, another closed store front...

  4. Excellent post.

    My dad drove down from Canada 6-7 months ago, as he does every fall. He purposely takes the smaller country roads to enjoy the drive.
    You could see the sadness on his face as he spoke about what he saw in the small towns along his way.

  5. We haven't been seeing the closures up here which seem so apparent in the Lower 48.


  6. Each day I find another fellow business owner has locked his door and walked away. It is indeed chilling and very sad. You're correct, this country of ours is sick and I'm afraid the illness terminal.

  7. Rev. Paul is right in that Alaska is doing all right. Back in the 80's we went through what the rest of the country is going through now, banks failing, foreclosures, people walking away from homes. We've been through all that-without any bailout. Our economy, while tied to the rest of the country, runs in a different track. There are jobs up here, not like in Pipeline Days, but there are jobs.

  8. Driving to the doggie day camp I go through what was once a thriving little bedroom community to the city. The city is still clean, not a ton of houses in foreclosure, but a LOT of businesses closing their doors including some big chain restaurants, like KFC and a Pizza Hut. There's whole strip malls that are literally empty. It costs me $100 to fill my tank, I'm blessed to have a good income but I've cut back as well. We all do, and it's hurting the community.