The Truth about Me

A report on the fallout from a previous journal entry.

A long time has gone by since I wrote the journal entry titled “Living on the Edge of Nowhere.” Much has happened in that time.

First of all, I have to say that I’m flattered. At least one person in Wickenburg, the tiny desert town I live in, finds my writing stimulating enough to read everything I’ve ever written on all of my Web sites. That’s the only explanation. How else could someone here find my Weblog, which is buried deep in the bowels of my Web work and not even hosted on my own server?

One of these people liked the”Life on the Edge of Nowhere” piece so much that he (or she) sent it around to other fans via e-mail. He (or she) also printed it, photocopied it, and shared it with a bunch of others. Obviously, this person is above copyright law because he (or she) flagrantly violated it by distributing my work without my permission. (My lawyer is working on the paperwork for that issue.)

The result of the widespread distribution of this one article is quite comical. A few people asked me about it. They weren’t happy, but when told about the context in which it appeared, they didn’t seem to mind. After all, it isn’t as if this piece were printed on the front page of the New York Times. (Although I’m sure a lot of New Yorkers would have enjoyed it very much.) Other people, who I know read it, never said a word to me about it. To them, it was business as usual. A few other people who read it stopped me to tell me how much they agreed with me and how I shouldn’t be so frustrated living in Wickenburg. (The piece was written in a moment of frustration — that should be clear to anyone who read it.) One person even stopped by with his copy to read his favorite parts aloud to me, laughing the whole time. And a few people who didn’t know much about me made a point of looking me up to talk about things. Two of them booked helicopter rides and enjoyed them immensely.

The people who distributed the piece did so for a reason. They want the townspeople to think that I’m a one-woman hit squad, out to get Wickenburg. This isn’t what THEY think — they know better. They’ve seen the work I’ve done in town, especially at the airport, where I’ve invested over $20,000 in furniture, building improvements, a courtesy car, and landscaping. They’ve seen me at fundraising events for the museum and the Rotary. They watched me land Santa Claus at the Community Center in my helicopter for Cops Who Care and have seen me marking numbers on horse butts as a volunteer for the Land of the Sun Endurance Ride. They’ve heard about my presentations to school kids in Congress and Salome, about how I landed my helicopter in the schoolyard, then spent several hours addressing each class of kids. And they’ve seen the dozens of pages I’ve written for wickenburg-az.com , a Web site I maintain at my own expense that provides a wealth of non-commercial information about the town without charging anyone a penny for advertising or access.

But it isn’t the positive things I’ve said on wickenburg-az.com that they spread around. It’s the work where I point out Wickenburg’s shortcomings. As a result, the people who read what they illegally distribute get a lopsided picture of me.

What the people who distributed the piece don’t realize (partially because they’re so close-minded and self-served that they can’t see reality) is that voicing opinions of Wickenburg — both positive and negative — brings to light the way people see the town. We all know what’s good about the town: the laid back atmosphere, the weather (at least 10 months out of the year), the widespread spaces between many of the homes, the relatively low (yes, I said low) cost of living, the ability to live without fear of crime. And frankly, we all know what’s not so good about Wickenburg, too. Why shouldn’t we voice our opinions about it?

Wickenburg isn’t perfect — we all know that. No place is perfect. If there were a perfect place to live, everyone would move there and it wouldn’t be perfect anymore. (I think that’s what happened to San Diego.)

By bringing Wickenburg’s shortcomings to light, we make people aware of them, people who can make a difference. For example, if I complain about the lack of good ethnic food here in Wickenburg it may become a topic of conversation. Someone who has been interested in starting a restaurant might realize that there’s a niche to fill. He might open up an Indian or Greek or Spanish or fill-in-the-blank restaurant in town. That’s adding to what the town offers residents and visitors. It adds tax revenues to the town’s coffers. It offers employment opportunities. It makes the town better.

This has worked in the past. For example, way back before Alco came to town, townspeople often complained that there were no basic clothing stores in town. Indeed, if you needed to buy underwear or socks, you had to go “down the hill” to Surprise, Glendale, etc. The folks at Double-D heard what was being said. They now sell these things. And Alco came along to add more variety to these offerings and more.

I could write all day about the good and not-so-good things in Wickenburg, but I won’t do it here. Why should I? This article won’t get the widespread attention that “Life on the Edge of Nowhere” got. Because it shows me the way I really am: someone who cares enough about the town to speak out.

And the folks who want to keep that picture of me slanted the other way just don’t want people to know the truth.

What do you think?