There is a special way the light hits the Smoky Mountains at sundown. I’m looking at mountain grandeur right now. The view is nothing short of cinematic.
I am on a vacation, here in the arresting glory of Appalachia, and I’m wondering about where our country is going.
I wonder things about our nation. Such as, why, in America, do hotdogs come in packs of eight but hotdog buns come in packs of 12?
Why do Americans leave expensive cars parked outside, but use their garages to store worthless junk?
Why does Walgreens make sick people walk to the back of the store to buy prescriptions, while healthy people can buy cigarettes up front?
Why do Americans insist on calling them “apartments,” when they’re all stuck together?
Why does my American wife have to open her mouth to put on mascara?
These are just a few of the pressing issues facing this nation that I’m wondering about.
I’m also wondering about an old man, from Sacramento, who was in the grocery store one afternoon, buying—of all things—bananas.
Whereupon he noticed
a young Latina woman in line ahead of him. The woman’s name was Isla. Isla emailed me this story.
Isla had her four kids in tow. She was still wearing her maid’s uniform. She was counting exact change. Crumpled dollars. Loose nickels. But Isla came up short.
So the old man paid for her groceries.
Isla thanked him and began to cry. The man followed her into the parking lot and loaded her groceries. She asked if she could repay his kindness.
He smiled. “Don’t worry about it.”
But Isla insisted. She invited him for supper. He arrived at her house. He wore a nice shirt. She was welcomed into her home, which was a glorified shack. She introduced him to her dying father whom she was caregiving for. And her elderly mother, who had dementia.
That night, Isla made…