I’m back to my Starbucks to meet the morning staff. A complete turnover includes a couple handsome twenty year olds, one singing his orders and the other telling him to stop. A curly haired red head mops the floor by the washrooms…sorry, restrooms (that’s been causing confusion) – ‘what’dya need to wash, son?’ Another twenty-something female is making breakfast sandwiches like nobody’s business. It’s a youthful environment filled with jabs, burns, pokes, and giggles. Yet to catch up on business, I selfishly claim a table that seats four and organize myself. Notepad, Owen Meany and Blood Meridian, cell phone into computer, two Granny Smith apples, Contigo mug, two pens – ink-flow and ball-point, legal pad. I’m doing my best to keep as many jot notes to assist with recollection; I’m on my second little black book, transcribing into a word document. I’ve allotted a few more days on the road that remain to be filled but touch base with some contacts in regards to my Nashville return Sunday night. I’ve been invited to an independent awards show at The Opry by fellow Canadian songwriter, Craig Brooks. The Opry is one of those things that I’ve yet to form an opinion on having never stepped inside the building. Some soulless members have influenced my opinion on the modern establishment. I find a Facebook event for the festival in Irvine that W.B. suggested. It looks pretty throw-together and as expected, an unrecognizable line-up. Something rings familiar with a band called The Horse Traders but nothing more than possibly having heard their name before in a music suggestion…the type I tend to forget about.
I’m an hour into my catch-up. Procrastinated emailing interrupted by studying the surrounding geography, googling ‘real country music venues’ and dragging a file at a time across my desktop into the Trash – seeing a clean digital workspace as a productive digital workspace. A couple suits make some repugnant order at the till complaining about this specific Starbucks location unable to accommodate their beverage modifications. I’m already judging, something I’ve been making an honest effort to cease. They sit in the sofa chairs directly behind me. I’ve been feeding of the natural hum of the room and they soon bring this to a halt. They take up all the real estate. What seems to be a conversation had in private, they discuss marketing of pharmaceuticals and the transition needed from print to digital. The phycology of convincing an American citizen that ‘something is wrong with them’. Jesus, here we go. Another boisterous drawl. He oddly resembles Sturgill. Stubble, short hair, suit, similar frame. But a real piece of shit.
My attention is diverted with last night’s barista walking in to say hi to her co-workers. I overhear it’s her day off and she’s just doing running around, maybe catch tomorrow night’s concert. I felt a little guilt in attending last night’s show alone outside of my intuitive decision. I need a break from boastful corporate shit-head and approach her outside.
“Thanks for the coffee yesterday. I feel like I skipped out on my reciprocal duties by not giving you the extra Sturgill Simpson ticket I had.” Idiot thing to say.
“Are you kidding me? That show’s been sold out for weeks – I’d have done anything to go. Aw, you dummy, we’d have had a fun night…I guess it’s the thought that counts.”
I welcome the slightly inflated ego. A little too inflated. A solid rush of testosterone, headed back to listen to Captain Corporate America conspire his fucking. My return finds him a braggart. Money this, money that. Interest, gain, worth. Garbage. He’s unaware but directly manipulating my mood. My little ‘king of the jungle’ moment outside has me imagining his beating. It’s the first time on this trip that passivity is suppressed by this side of aggression I have the ability to conjure. His business parter almost seems like he’s trying to avoid the direction of the discussion but Johnny Fuck-the-little-guy is just getting more blowhard. He’s loud and laughing at the misfortunes of others.
“How the fuck do you sleep at night?” – there.
I caught him off-guard. His business partner answers with ‘we sleep just fine’.
“I wasn’t talking to you”
Shit-head asks what I mean.
“You know exactly what I mean, listen to yourself.”
I made myself the focal point of the room. Nobody talks as I pack my bag. First my computer, then my books. Legal pad, notepad, pens. For whatever reason, I take a bit of an apple, put my hat on and leave.
I don’t know how I feel getting to my car. I feel like I was rude to somebody. I’m trying to approach life with a more loving experience and that was the furthest thing from. Whatever. If I didn’t say something, what’s that say about me. Besides, it was time to get a jump on the rest of the day – W.B. suggested getting to Irvine in good time, better my chances as getting into the sold out festival. I need a walk-around to slow the heart down. I head down to Poage Landing Days. Counteract my aggression with some people watching.
The scene is vibrant. A sound company is setting up a PA large enough for a open-air rock concert. A stage takes up the width of a side street and white folding chairs are lined up the block. Tonight are a couple local acts and tomorrow night, Travis Tritt. Excellent option in the quest. Tritt called out Brantley Gilbert for being ‘disrespectful’ last year. I like his attitude but it’d be nice to see what his sound has evolved to over the years.
Poage Landing Days has vendors and crafts. Large tents fill Winchester Avenue. A dog jumping competition fills a parking lot complete with runway, launching pad and pool. I walk past the cardboard cut-out of Donald Trump and the Republicans tent and say hi to a couple sitting to it’s immediate right. A Center For Change is a psychotherapy group that’s flying a rainbow flag. I let them know I appreciate the irony of their placement in the street. They agree. His tone help bring me back to a place of compassion. I’ve been heavily affected lately by my surroundings, vibes. I’m back on the level.
I made eye contact with a Trump supporter. I feel confident in my arguments but am not looking to get riled up again. I move on.
Homemade brooms and pickles. Barn-wood art in the shape of the state of Kentucky. Characters carved out of golfballs. Doilies and cross-stitch. Beef Jerky, Cotton Candy, and Popcorn. Free pocket bibles. Trump supporters and the Jehovah’s Witnesses. I have a soft spot for the Jay-Dubs. My years of selling my albums door-to-door gave me a taste of how society treats the unannounced solicitors of good news. Selling something you believe in so much that no amount of belittling, insolence, or dismissal can shake its foundation. Me believing in myself, the J.W. in salvation. We truly are brethren.
I go say hello to my hustlin’ brothers.