I Seem Like A Hillbilly But I’m Not
Appearances aren’t everything. You can’t look at someone and think you know everything about them. People do though. People often look at me and assume they know what I’m about. They look at my appearance, my property and my pass times and think they have me pegged as just another hillbilly. They’re wrong though, and I can’t stand that stereotype.
Now I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with someone who likes that lifestyle. Some people are quite content living within what would be a “hillbilly” type lifestyle. Simplicity, disregard for personal appearance, and all the other things that seem to make up that label.
Heck, some people are proud to call themselves hillbilly. All I’m saying is that before you go jumping to conclusions on your own and judging a persons’ intelligence or financial status. Take the time to hear their personal story. Sit with them a moment and get to know who they are before you pass judgment.
For example, you see me walking up to my house by the airport. I’m a little dirty, wearing old clothes, Daisy, my old bloodhound running across the yard to great me. I know how that looks to a stranger.
It’s almost something you might see on t.v. about a poor old hillbilly trying to make his way in a simple life. But what you don’t see is that I am returning home from an afternoon of working on my glider.
Flying has been a passion of mine since I was a boy, and most Saturday afternoons, if I can, you can find me at the airport doing maintenance work on my glider. Making sure she runs smooth. It’s important to have hobbies I think.
When I get home I like to sit in the old rocking chair on the porch. My week days are busy at the hospital where I work as a radiologist. It’s a stressful job. I like to relax on the porch in the evening air. It’s a common pass time along my street. When you go walking you can wave to all the neighbors along the way.
Sometimes I pull out my banjo and give it a strum. My father gave it to me as a boy. Said it was his fathers. Maybe one day I can pass on the tradition. He taught me how to play it as a young boy.
I remember sitting on the porch with him, watching as he explained the finger work and showing me how to hold it in my small hands.
I practiced for hours. I have a friend who comes around insisting I play some bluegrass with his band at the local bar downtown.
As fun as it sounds, I’ve been declining until I can get my front tooth fixed. I knocked it out playing football with the guys from work. You can see how that would look, the toothless guy with a banjo. It’s all about first appearances.
It’s like Daisy. My neighbor who lives up the street breeds’ bloodhounds, so almost everyone on my street has a pup from one of her litters. Daisy was a runt. They didn’t think she would survive, but she’s a tough cookie. She loves rides in the old pick-up truck.
Sometimes at dusk we go for rides up the country roads close to the airport. Stopping to watch the small planes come in I let her run through the field and chase small animals. I know she’d love a ride in the Lexus, but I hate the thought of cleaning the hair and drool off the leather. Daisy has been a good friend to me though. She’s a good companion.
I thought I lost her once a few years ago. One of my neighbors has a moonshine still in his garage. He makes a good brew. I don’t mind when he asks me to come sample a batch. He’s a bit of a moonshine connoisseur you could say.
Well, Daisy got in there one day and had a sample for herself. We found her laid out on the floor. Chuck and I thought she was a gonner for sure. We called the vet to see what we should do. She told us to watch her and let her rest, that’s all we could do.
After awhile Daisy made it back onto her feet and sobered up. She was grumpy as hell for a few days afterward, but she’s never been back into Chucks’ garage since.
So as you can see, there are aspects of my life that, on the surface, seem like I fit the “ol’ hillbilly of the Ozarks” stereotype. If you looked at me from across the street in my overalls, missing tooth and faithful dog, you would think “hey, here comes’ Jeb!” But it’s not like that at all.
I can’t do much about my appearance or my neighbors. I like what I like, and I’m not ashamed of it. But there is more to me than an old stereotype. There’s more than what you see. I have worked hard to live a good life and break free from appearances.
It’s tough though. People see what they see and it’s hard to overcome that. We are wired as humans to quickly assess strangers to find out if someone is dangerous or safe.
Do I have to worry about this person, or ignore them? Unfortunately that means we often make quick, sometimes inaccurate, assessments about a persons’ personality or way of being. It’s really a shame too, because I think we miss out on meeting some great people because of preconceived notions about them.
We should all learn to be more accepting of others and less judgmental, but that’s easier said than done.
I really hope that I have given you an opportunity to think about how you see others though. Not just for myself, but for the other people who, on the surface, seem to fit nicely into a stereotyped image, but actually have an interesting story to tell.
I’m glad I could share my story with you and dispel some of perceptions people have about me. Everyone is unique.
Everyone has a story. We should all work towards recognizing the uniqueness in everyone instead of trying to fit everyone into the same box.