July 17, 2010 9:12:00 PM
I made a Wednesday visit to Rolling Fork a couple of weeks ago to help Mama with a few chores. Sometimes chores, no matter how simple they may seem, throw me for a loop. One of her Red Hat friends had given her a small fountain for the screen porch. As I sat scratching my head trying to figure out how to put it together -- fortunately for me -- a family friend who trumps me when it comes to these matters popped in for a visit.
As I watched her perform in minutes, what would have taken me an hour to do, it suddenly dawned on me that she wasn''t at work. She''s a pretty big to-do by Rolling Fork standards, albeit with a small staff. She explained that she never stopped closing on Wednesday afternoons.
At the risk of sounding like some worn out e-mail making the rounds recounting the so-called good ole days, her closing brought back a few memories. Back in the day, on Wednesday afternoon the town square would have looked like a ghost town had it not been for a few pool shooters and domino players who patronized the pool hall that never closed, except on Sundays.
In conversation I was surprised to find how little inconvenience was caused by Wednesday afternoon closings for the local buying public. Not that much, to hear them tell it. Folks just did a little better job of planning. It was a way of life.
But what about emergencies? That was never a problem. If a family found themselves in need of medicine, Wednesday afternoon or midnight on Christmas Eve, the "druggist" (not necessarily a bona-fide pharmacist) always answered their home telephone and graciously accommodated those in dire need. They also opened on Sunday mornings promptly at 8 o''clock for 30 minutes or so, so everyone could make it to church.
This past week I asked a big shot friend of mine who runs a big establishment here in town whether or not he took advantage of all of his earned (it is earned with time and service) vacation every year. He admitted that for many years he didn''t; however, the last few years he had. He''s a pretty hard charger, and I was surprised to hear him explain how he''s recognized that time away from work allowed him to recharge his batteries, think clearly and be a better leader.
Although he operates a much bigger concern, his thinking tracked along the same lines as my friend over in the Delta. She allowed that closing on Wednesday afternoons gave everybody in her organization a little time to recharge.
Could opening on Wednesday afternoons have driven us down the road to non-stop commerce? Was that the start of don''t-stop, stress-city, every-minute-counts in the quest for the almighty dollar?
Most of the superstores stay open 24 hours a day. With the exception of Christmas Day, most never close. The only businesses I remember ever opening on Sundays were one service station out on Highway 61 and the Dairy Bar, all Mom and Pop establishments.
More than likely you -- like me -- hear pretty smart folks wondering out loud about why they are so stressed, they need this and that, and they never seem to have enough time to do the things that they want to do ... and, most importantly, why we as a society seem to have lost our way when it comes to following the straight and narrow.
Well, darned if I don''t believe we brought it on ourselves. If I were a big time sociologist, I''d do a study that I bet would prove that a lot of things that we consider going to heck these days began when businesses stopped closing on Wednesday afternoons.
Here''s one more for you. This morning when you''re heading to church, take the long way on 45. As you ride down that way take note of the parking lots. When you get to where you''re going, think about how easy is it to get a parking spot there?
Get my point?
Roger owns Bayou Management, Inc. and is also a semi-pro guitar player.