Tyler, Texas 75703
Perhaps the best thing I ever did is leave my hometown.
Now, a few months ago if you were not familiar with this fine town in East Texas, I would not be shocked. Waco people know. Dallas people think they know. But Tyler?
Then a few weeks ago came the NYTimes front-page series on the iron and steel plant in Tyler, and how callous, greedy and dehumanizing are its practices. For the record, I worked in the Tyler Pipe factory a few days, and I could not believe people worked there any longer than that. And I only worked a few night shifts - and not at all the hardest of the work there. Probably its just another sign of how soft my life has been, but while I was somewhat aghast the people around me seemed pleased pink to be working there - probably because they had no other choice for beating a MickeyD's salary.
Now here comes the Columbia disaster. Look, the commentary has hit the points that first come to my mind as well as yours. It is terrible, and worse that we are desensitized to the dangers of space travel so only disasters transgress into our TV and radio habits. But the personal point I have to make here is that once again the NYTimes had footage from Tyler - this time the debris streaked skies above. And there in the news I see the names of towns and counties I last saw when I would travel by school bus between them for high school debate and academic decathalon competitions. Rusk is not a town that ever makes the news, even in Texas. I mean, they aren't even that good at football. Now there are some faux non-accented american english newscasters on CNN trying to pronounce Palestine as if they were natives. Kinda like the old jokes about the rampant overly 'correct' accents used for all non-english names by the same news readers - except now they are trying to talk like the 60-year-old retired patroleom workers from Green Acres Baptist Church.
It is shocking to see such disasters, but uncanny to see such things against the backdrop of my childhood and adolescence. It's as if they happened in neverland or epcot - don't these places only exist in the recesses of my memory? How did they end up on the front-page and Dan Rather's lips? Such is the power of disaster - space travel is interesting again, and Rusk is famous.