Do Unto Others … A Day-After-Thanksgiving Story

By Patric Hedlund

The Mountain Enterprise has a policy against publishing anonymous letters. This Thanksgiving a story came in that the writers feel needs to be told, but they felt urgent about not embarrassing their neighbors. Our concern is that this is not an isolated case. Hard times are affecting many of our neighbors. This is our researched edit of their story.

What do you mean “simply follow the Golden Rule?” That’s a pretty tough order! As we write what began as ‘Happy Thanksgiving’ thoughts, bear with us: “Love thy neighbor as thyself?” Yeah, right. That’s not always easy.

On all three sides of us sit foreclosed homes. There was pain in the ‘For Sale’ signs that went on those lawns.

Today, just two blocks away, sits a fourth home with no electricity, no food and, just before Thanksgiving Day, the water was shut off.

How did we discover the hardship? Our neighbors dropped by. They are free to snack, “an open kitchen” was part of our upbringing. Recently we noticed they were eating more than snacks. As we thought about it for a moment, we noticed they are not driving anywhere these days and there are no lights on in the home. Had their electricity been turned off?

Curious. We ourselves are barely making it on one income (we’re supposed to have two incomes, but people in our business these days need food baskets of our own to survive).

We found a local church that brought the neighbors food, “no strings attached,” an astonishing concept. Okay, maybe some was generic, but food is food and a hot cooked chicken is mouth-watering. The commodities food supplies help too, once you dump the outdated, swollen cans dated 2006. Firewood was donated from another ministry that asked for nothing in return. These people get it. “Love thy neighbor as thyself” guided their actions.

But not all humanity remembers how to be humane. Sometimes ‘business is business.’ We watched in horror as the water was turned off at our neighbor’s home. Now, in the Frazier Park Public Utilities District’s defense, I have talked with caring people there who have no control over the policy the public agency must follow.

We were very attentive (because you know we are going to have to offer showers if they have no water). Our neighbors sold a precious family treasure for one quarter of its worth, getting the money via wire transfer the day after Thanksgiving. Our “pleeeeeeease don’t shut their water off!” call to FPPUD couldn’t help, because (they said) the neighbors hadn’t called themselves. So, poof! It’s off. Thank you to the manager who authorized the turn off (name withheld to protect the guilty).

So, the ending of this holiday story: please remember this holiday season, “Love thy neighbor as thyself.” Think about it. What does that really mean when it is put into action?

Editor’s Note: We interviewed Alice Garcia of FPPUD who said about 48 turn-off notices were issued just before Thanksgiving in Frazier Park. “That was low, some months we have sent out 98 notices,” she said. Only 16 accounts were still in arrears by turn-off time last week. Water companies throughout the region have had an increase in such situations. The family in this story had its water service returned last week.

This is part of the December 03, 2010 online edition of The Mountain Enterprise.

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