As mentioned last week, we reached our goal to donate $500 to Bill “Arkansas Redneck” Jones. So, to follow through on my word, I set out last Sunday on the 2,000+ mile round trip to visit Bill.
By Tuesday morning, I was riding out to Bill’s home with his boy Lance, 33. Upon arrival, I saw a couple of things had changed since first visiting and interviewing this caricature of a Southern man a year-and-a-half ago. He had gotten an old, beat-up truck. There were a few more (and louder) dogs. And the outdoor decor that had originally stopped me in my tracks when driving by two summer’s ago, was modified. First, the bed was gone. So was the outdoor cooker. I guess the winter time had moved their kitchen and bedroom back indoors. And speaking of winter, red bows and green garland wrapped the fences like holiday vines.
Soon Bill came out to find his son accompanied by that guy who randomly stopped by and interviewed him 18 months earlier. He remembered me but didn’t express any obvious joy at my arrival. Nor did Bill let out any exclamations when finding out the reason for my return (and the $572.85 cash I had for him.)
But he did let out a strong “really“, and more than once he looked me intently in the eyes, shook my hand, and said, “Thank you.”
On the ride out there, Lance had said his father was a reserved man. So, I took these subtle gestures as clear signs of Bill’s shock and gratitude.
Later, his lady friend would express her thankfulness as well.
For these two folks, 570 bucks represents several months of electricity, money for transportation to town, food for all their dogs, and yeah, probably some cigarettes.
Look for my new video from this return, gift-giving visit later this week, or subscribe to my YouTube channel to get all my latest videos–included some coming up from another country. Next Sunday I offer a preview of my upcoming trip to Cuba!