Weekly Asheville Disclaimer Page: 04/30/08

Opinion AD commentary

If God wanted water to be transparent, He wouldn’t have given us industrial waste

Jim Evans

Things sure have changed. When I was a young boy growing up in these mountains, folks put their pants on one leg at a time each morning and started the day off right with a tall glass of lye water. And we loved it.

Nowadays, you got these uppity types near the old CTS plant who complain that the ground water is too “chemical-y” for their refined tastes. They probably also put their pants on two legs at a time. Don’t know how—must get dressed lying backdown on the floor, I reckon.

Why, we were proud to even have chemicals back then! Chemical waste meant progress, and we progressively put that progress everywhere we could— slathered it on thick, too. We’d render a few hundred cows in a vat of acid and then soak our heads in it to cool ourselves down.

Sometimes, when we weren’t working, we’d dump all sorts of chemicals down in our own water wells, just to see where it went (hard to tell—as shallow as those wells were, they were twice as dark). Those people should be thanking CTS, if you ask me. How do you even know you’re really drinking water unless you taste carcinogens? If you’ve got another way, I’m dying to hear it.

Shoot, when you take a drink of water and your throat swells shut and your earlobes start sweating, you know you just took a swoller of money. ’Cause that’s how we’uns did it back then—we contaminated everything and made money doing it, so sue us.

Some people see a barrel of industrial by-products and small-mindedly think only of the health and safety of their friends and neighbors. Back in the day, we looked at that same barrel of sludge and saw a job, then we punched in and hauled those barrels out into the woods, dumped them and punched out. We dumped that stuff everywhere—it was hard work!

These same folks who get so worked up when they see just even the tiniest clot of trichloroethylene in their water probably haven’t ever had to make a living cutting corners on hazardous-waste disposal.

I wonder if it would make them feel any differently if they knew that my daddy’s back-sweat was also mixed in with that water they’re drinking.

A lot of us have special memories of those plants and factories—waking up to the sounds of our daddies cussing under their breath when they left for work at 4 a.m. and getting woke up again late at night when our daddies returned home covered in industrial waste. Those are the memories you cherish!

Heck, my own daddy skinned horses on the bank of the French Broad. For miles around, there weren’t nothing but the sound of horse-screams and the hot pungent smell of death. As a courtesy, he located his operation next to the colored school, so nobody would get upset.

After he calmed down the jittery horses and then skinned them, he’d put the horse remains in a big tub full of gasoline and paint thinner, let it stew a while and top it off with insecticide. Then he’d dump the whole thing right into the river.

Funny thing is, he didn’t sell those horsehides— it was just a hobby of his, a way to slip into a meditative state while leaning over the tub and mixing the thinner in real good. Back then, people were allowed to pursue their interests without a bunch of hand-wringing. Least it makes the river nice and shiny, we’d say.

If some of those people who live near the old CTS plant would stop harrumphing— as if everyone has a right to drink transparent water—and took the time to learn this region’s history, they’d happily drink their shiny well water, bury their “poisoned” loved ones and cough up a hearty “Thank you!”

Due to a shrinking economy, Asheville City Council is trying to find ways to trim the city’s budget. A few ideas:

• Cut out unfunded mandates such as Mani-Pedi Mayoral Mondays.

• Replace Pack Square oak tree with city-owned ATM.

• Next time a Council member wants to let everyone ride city buses for free, maybe don’t do that.

• Cancel broken-kitchen-knife buyback program.

• Mumpower must trade in current bully pulpit for more modestly priced soapbox.

• Secure corporate sponsorship from Red Bull for City Council meetings.

• City employees must pick their favorite tooth, which will be insured under new dental plan.

• Don’t cut any expensive green initiatives until they go out of style.

• Once sleeper agent HJ is in place, renogiate water contract with county.

• Figure out once and for all which parks can and cannot be sold when nobody is paying attention.

• Will not be able to continue recruiting the high-dollar musical acts that Bele Chere is known for.

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