Reassuring Encounters

Joey here.  We hopped 81 miles to Brillion, set among Wisconsin farms and fields.  En route, we found only paved roads (in Michigan, many roads are unpaved), passed through beautiful countryside, and looked out over Green Bay.  It’s hard to grasp that after days and days and hundreds of miles, we still are following the Lake Michigan shore.  Are these Great Lakes or what?

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Today we offer a tribute to the kind common sense of plain American people.

This morning at breakfast, Jeffrey sat in the presence of a television tuned to something called “Fox and Friends”.  Evidently there is an all-powerful wizard named Obama who is responsible for every evil in the world.  Various announcers and “experts” caught Jeffrey’s attention by blaming Obama for a recent increase in the number of unaccompanied visa-less children entering the United States from Latin American countries.  Knowledgeable, reasonable people say the surge is due to crime, violence, poverty and corruption south of the U.S. border.  If it is due to Obama’s supposed lax enforcement of immigration law (despite Obama’s expulsion of unauthorized immigrants at a record pace), then why have asylum applications also spiked in Mexico, Panama, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Belize?

Jeffrey saw people come into the room for breakfast and focus, as if in a trance, on the TV screen.  They seemed to be absorbing this shallow propganda.  It’s unlikely that they could put the “Fox and Friends” allegations into perspective.  What do people in small-town Wisconsin know or care about the terrible conditions causing children to flee large parts of Latin America?

But get away from the Talking Heads of Television, go directly to the people, and be reassured.

Outside, we met Jeff and Andrea, on their way home to Flint, Michigan.  Jeffrey and Jeff talked trikes and human rights.  The couple were friendly, intrigued, and promised to follow us on line.  No xenophobia, no Obama-bashing, just interest and warmth.

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Later, in the city of Green Bay, Jeffrey ignored calls of “hey, you!” and the like, until he heard, “hey, you idiot!”  At that he looked up and saw the bridgemaster motioning him to get off a drawbridge so the bridge could open to admit a freighter from Wilmington, Delaware, that traveled here via the Great Lakes.

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See the car that ran through the bridge barrier?  Looks like more than one idiot was on the bridge today!  The driver turned around and waited until the bridgemaster raised the barrier and let the driver escape.

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Here are two people who were on the bridge, who are not idiots.  Alex is an IT professional.  Steph has degrees in music and Spanish and teaches Spanish to elementary schoolkids.  They shook their heads at the injustice of expecting asylum applicants to present their cases without a lawyer; Alex, an English-speaking American, has been in court and even he found it bewildering.  These thoughtful young people promised to follow the Ride.

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Tom is one of a group of Harley motorcycle riders who called out to Jeffrey to ask whether we really pedaled from NYC.  He and the others asked a lot of friendly questions; when the others left, Tom hung back a moment and asked Jeffrey whether he would accept a donation.  Jeffrey invited Tom to donate on the Web, but Tom said he wanted to keep things simple, to “pay it forward,” and handed Jeffrey a significant sum in cash.  Now, some coastal “intellectuals” might not believe that a young Harley biker in the Heartland, where “Fox and Friends” plays in motel breakfast rooms, would so readily support Human Rights First moments after being introduced to the organization and its mission.  But Tom did.  Later, he and the others roared past us on the road and gave us a biker salute.  We have new friends.

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Green Bay city and environs have some seedy bits, but much of it was pretty.

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Green Bay has some immigrants, too.  Meet Pietro, from Genoa, Italy.

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Pietro is an engineer who works for a shipbuilding firm.  His current project is to integrate the cultures of the firm’s American and Italian operations.  Pietro was biking to build up his legs for next winter’s ski season.  He seems happy in Green Bay, if a bit bemused by the locals’ worship of the Packers football team.

No wonder Pietro feels comfortable here.  You don’t have to dig deep to find Americans’ kindness and common sense.  Federal authorities have been shamed into starting a project to provide legal counsel to a small fraction of the unaccompanied minors who reach our borders.  If they followed the will of the People, as indicated by our unscientific encounters with ordinary Americans, Congress would provide counsel for every indigent asylum applicant, for every poor person facing removal from the U.S.

People in the Heartland who have hearts – which seems to be almost everyone – know it’s cruel to expect someone to face a life-or-death tribunal, alone.

16 thoughts on “Reassuring Encounters

  1. Dear Jeffrey,
    Happy Trails to you until we meet again……very positive encounters- which does not surprise me.
    They are definitely Great Lakes…wowser….
    Deb

  2. Jeff is onto or at the brink of a great truth in the politics of this country. The people know and can express the correct way forward. But it isn’t translated into laws and policy because of a massive constipation in our system that is a coordinated, monied right wing set of institutions beholden to the monied class ( otherwise known as the 1% ) that continually subverts this “peoples will”. It utilizes very sophisticated PR techniques to divert from reality and to turn things upside down. The Fox and Friends exagerations and propaganda are the most continual , most public face of this monstrosity. Unfortunately it extends even to the conservative majority in our Supreme Court who equate money with speech, saying corruption can only exist when an outright bribe is present. Common sense in the Heartland would NEVER accept that little bit of sophistry. Recent research has shown this network at work and the evident to all growing inequality in America is a direct product of its workings. Removing the corrupting influence of big money ( any donations , direct or indirect, of > $100 for any election) is the evident to all outside the network answer.

  3. Well done, Jeffrey and Joey. You continue to be an inspiration to the rest of us.

  4. Jeffrey, we are all following your trip in the case management section of the office. 🙂 I am so impressed with how you converse with so many different folks and are able to spread your message. My favorite so far was when two people asked you if you supported unborn baby. Your response was perfect. You got your message across without having to delve into a very heated American issue. 🙂 We miss you.

  5. Jeff,
    You are covering those miles for sure . A couple “trivial” points…..You do know that” Fox and Friends” is also being viewed in NYC probably as I type this.. Many a time in various NYC hotels I’ve stayed, that show is broadcasting for the “enjoyment?” of the breakfast eaters.. It’s not just a Wisconsin thing. It reminds me why I don’t miss having a television here. Also that huge ship “from Wilmington Delaware” pass through the drawbridge may have never seen the tranquil /mighty waters of The Delaware River. Like, top corporations and credit cards, many shipowners find easy and cheap registration and tax rates here in Delaware. I have seen Wilmington on ships in ports all over the world. We are quite the ‘corporate capital here” and in some ways it’s like being an off-shore tax haven here in the continental USA.
    Hope the Wisconsin mosquitoes are less pesky than Michigan’s and good luck heading south.

    Cousin Joel

    • Joey here, pausing on the road in Wisconsin, replying for the Jeffrey who answers to “hey, idiot!” Interesting about Wilmington ship registries. Still, the ship reached the Heartland vis the Great Lakes, just as our new Chippewa-Algonquin friend Denver said his ancestors got the muskets that helped his people prevail over others not so near to the Lakes and their waterborne commerce. As for Fox broadcasts in NYC, the audience is more skeptical. Almost 40% of NYC residents were not born in the USA. Visitors and residents alike are immersed in cultures and perspectives hard to find in other cities. NYC does not vote for politicians beloved by Fox. Not always so elsewhere. But even in places receptive to Fox propaganda, people see the truth if you fan away the fog.

  6. Looking forward to seeing Jeffrey in a few days. I think he and Joey will be eating lots of Chicago pizza. T

  7. Hi, Jeff – Have LOVED following your travels. Missed the last couple of days so I just checked in to see how you handled the Mackinac Bridge – scary to cross even in a car. I was glad to learn you had an escort!!! Safe travels, dear friend, and hope to see you soon in Chicago! ruth

  8. Jeffrey, Am enjoying reading Joey’s daily descriptions. I’ve recommended your blog to a number of friends here in Atlanta and hope that there will be some follow-through. Whenever there is a discussion of the negative state of the town or state or federal gov… in terms of ‘we the people can’t do anything…’.(other than vote and raise funds for charities) I tell folks that I know a fellow named Jeffrey who DOES DO SOMETHING. You are an inspiration! You are our actions, our voices and our hopes.

  9. HiJeff & Joey: It is hard to believe you went all that way on that “trike”. My hat is off to you.
    Safe home. Kay C.

  10. Julie and I are hoping we get to be a final way station in Chicago. Even have a few odd jobs around the house that need to get done – roughly the same level of complexity as the leaky toilet flapper you fixed the last time through.

  11. Jeff, we just took a few moments to catch up on your ride! Sounds like another fantastic adventure. The snippets of conversation you share on the blog are but a tease. Looking forward to hearing more about it sometime soon. –Ronni & Mark

    • Love all the comments and encouraging words!!! Soon Jeffrey and Joey will be off the roads and getting ready for U of C commencement.

  12. Jeffrey it was great to meet you yesterday.. We made it home by 7PM and wondered where you stopped for the day. Have a great and safe rest of your trip… Next time you have to come through Flint.

    Jeff and Andrea from Flint.

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