I feel like I need to expand on my earlier post, Why Bother?, written a week ago and only hours after my business had been broken into, and perhaps answer my own question. Why bother, I wondered, to live in a city with an increasing crime rate and leaders who are impotent to fight it? Why bother to work six days a week for eight years to build a business only to have some piece of crap break into it and take what he likes? Why bother to live within the law when so many seem to have no respect whatsoever for it? These are the questions I had that early morning on only a few hours of sleep. And most of this is still a dilemma for me, let me make that clear. However, since that day, some of those questions have been answered for me. They’ve been answered by friends and family who live in this city, or have lived here. Some of them have been victims of crime recently and are entrepreneurs themselves.
Both S.A.M. and StephChockley, in response to my question, waxed more eloquently than I can on why it is we live where we live. They touched on friends more than anything, friends who have become family. Their posts meant more than many of you realize because they have both been victims of crime recently as well, one in her family’s home and one a victim of armed robbery at her place of business. Yet they are able to see past this all to recount the good in this city and her people. I should take a page from their book, or blog, if these are pages, and look for the positives in my fellow Memphians. But it’s difficult for me. It’s difficult because this was my fifth break-in, because of the garbage I witness harassing the good people downtown every day and because the newspapers are full of the irresponsibility, incompetence and egos of the leaders of our city. But this is where we are. This is where I grew up, bought a business and am raising four children. If I were to suggest to Big Mama tonight that we pack up the kids and our favorite books into the Volvo 740 turbo wagon and move away from here, she would do it, such is her disdain for the city, but we both know that’s not possible. We’re entrenched here … for now. And as long as we’re entrenched, we’re lucky to be so with some really good people, true friends and family.
My other question had to do with owning a small business. Why bother? I heard from an old friend living in Oklahoma who reminded me that she reads about the four reasons why I do the work I do on this very blog all the time. And there’s truth in that. One of the reasons I wanted to own my own business, to be my own boss, was to show my kids that it was possible. That they could make their own way, just as my father-in-law and step-father had shown me. I’m not sure how good a job I’m doing of teaching them, but as long as they don’t have access to the books yet then I’m still the king. When something happens like a break-in, however, I keep it from them because they don’t need to know that things they see on the news or in television shows is happening to their father. And just the fact that some stranger has affected me in such a way that is out of my control, and that I have to keep it from my kids, makes me angry.
Other friends have stepped up, too. One has a blog devoted to the entrepreneurial spirit. He’s a zealot and it is worth a read. S.A.M. owns a couple of businesses, too, and tells me to repeat the word “cubicle” over and over when times become distressing. Even my mother, who called just to talk about the original post – no, wait, she called to talk about The Godfather III – laughed at my considering corporate work, saying I should go to work for Enron.
What stands out to me more than what these people said is that they said it at all, or wrote, or called at all. Friends understood, they sympathized and they empathized. I bother because of all of them. I bother because I owe it to my family to bother. Memphis is our home, we’ve made friends here and we have family here. And this city is ours as much as, if not more, than those who wish to sully it. So we’ll stay here for now with our fellow Memphians and we’ll visit Peabody Park and travel to each others’ houses, we’ll eat pork and go to work and school, and we won’t let the bastards get us down.