Doses Of Reality While On Vacation
Wednesday - July 01, 2009
I’ve been talking about the vacation we just wrapped up - Atlanta, New York City, Washington, D.C. Fascinating places to visit, of course, and we fully appreciate everything we saw and experienced. But like all local folks, whenever we go away, we always come home to the realization that our Hawaii is the best place in the world to live. Hawaii No Ka Oi.
One thing I would like to mention is that, even though vacation is supposed to be an opportunity to forget your troubles and have fun, there are some things you just can’t ignore.
For example, the signs of recession are everywhere on the Mainland - all a tourist has to do is look for them. Just like the visitors who come to our Islands expecting paradise, we go on our own journeys wanting excitement, adventure and fun - not another cold dose of reality. Still, the evidence was around. All you had to do was open your eyes a little bit wider and listen a little bit harder.
In a sleek, upscale suburb in Atlanta where our friends live, we saw many, many For Sale signs posted on the manicured lawns. Our friend said the property values have dropped dramatically. Her own family had experienced a major job loss and reduction in income in the last couple of years, but is doing a pretty good job of hanging in there. They are hoping to ride it out. They do not want a For Sale sign stuck in their lawn.
In New York City our eyes were on the bustle of Times Square and the glamour of Broadway. For the most part, the city has “cleaned up” its act, at least in the busiest tourist areas, so that we, dazzled by the lights, don’t often see the seedy underside. But it’s there. Every once in a while I’d catch a glimpse of a homeless person sitting quietly under an archway or huddled in a dark doorway.
While on the Amtrak train going from New York City to Washington, D.C., we saw swaths of broken down-looking townhouses - “twins,” a commuter told us they were called. This man told us these miles of tired-looking suburbs on the outskirts of Philadelphia were the “depressed parts, the bad parts, not the good part,” of the city. He himself lived in the “good part” of town.
A bellman in D.C. told me about his bum foot. He was in obvious pain. But he sprints between two full-time jobs every day, and although he said the pain was getting worse, he felt lucky to be employed and ouldn’t afford to lose either job. So he was delaying the expensive surgery he needed to fix his potentially crippling problem.
All this, and the headlines on the news blared about a rising unemployment rate, even as the experts were beginning to see signs that a recovery may be on the horizon.
How far away is that horizon?
For the folks living in the “depressed parts” of cities and towns all across America, including here in Hawaii, it’s far. Too far. For others, like our friends in Atlanta, it’s a glimmer of hope that they just might be able to hang on long enough.
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