Note: John MacKay, my good friend and fellow Nederland resident, provides this guest post for your reading pleasure.
I spent my career in Tampa. The warm weather, the beaches nearby, no state income tax, wonderful Cuban and Italian people, cultures, and food, and a surprisingly low cost of living, brought people to Tampa.
You could buy an affordable starter house in a dicey neighborhood, and double your money in five or six years. Many did just that – they didn’t refinance, they paid it down. With a housing market like that, more and more people came to Tampa.
Eventually, the old time Tampans – go ahead, get it out of your systems – sold their small 1950s ranch homes to newcomers. Demand was high and the offers were eye-popping. Developers were knocking one house down and building two in its place. People kept packing in, moving into their McMansions, 100% mortgages, 7-foot lot lines, and 7-year car loans. The Tampa I loved was gone.
It was quick. Suddenly it took a lot longer to get anywhere. The heat got oppressively worse, maybe because I was sitting in traffic. The newcomers were always in a hurry. Most of all, and the reason I got out – people got angrier. Road rage, horns honking, fingers flying, sirens screaming, neighbors fighting, temper tantrums over the smallest of things, hate, and sometimes violence in stores and lines. Yes, now there were lines.
“Despite all their rage, they were still just rats in a cage.”
Which brings us to now, and to Ned. I hope, dear reader, that you appreciate how lucky we are to sit out these trying times up here. For the most part we pull together. Social distancing? That’s how we like to live! Entertainment venues closed? We’ve got all this Open Space and Forest Service land, and creeks and trails, to entertain us! Lonely? Talk to the elk and the moose! Dirt roads, waving to your neighbors, birds singing, the music, the history, an abundance of herb, and the most loved and loving dogs you will ever meet! Every place has its issues, but the closest we get to rage and anger around here are a handful of cranky curmudgeons with FaceBook groups or short-term rentals.
It’s pretty rough in Tampa right now, and it’s getting worse by the minute. You can say the same about the other cities as well. This pandemic and this crash will be painful for Nedheads – maybe even deadly for some. I don’t doubt that. But it will be so much worse for the people down below. We are very lucky to be here.