Are we losing the Floyd County way?

Bad weather brings out the best and worst of people.

We saw the best in those who took the time to help neighbors stuck in snow or without power. On Christmas Even, I stopped to help two young men in a pickup who slid off the road after hitting a deer on U.S. 221. While I worked to free the truck from deep snow, two other motorists stopped to help.

But they had been stuck in the snowbank for more than 30 minutes while car after car whizzed by without stopping to see if they needed help.

Local AEP workers gave up Christmas with their families to work to restore power after the Christmas Eve ice storm knocked out electricity. Protocol Automotive owner Joey Kaylor says he saw a Floyd County resident chewing out an AEP worker because the power was out. It wasn’t the lineman’s fault. The fault lies with AEP’s regressive management that puts return to stockholders ahead of improvements to the utility’s infrastructure or service to customers.

Some who volunteered to help clear snow in Floyd after the storm that dumped up to two feet in the area ran into residents who screamed at them for where they were putting the snow.

A lot of people went out of their way to help their neighbors during the past two weeks of bad weather. Most got thanks for their help. Too many, however, got nothing but grief.

While I can understand how tempers can flare in bad weather, yelling at a neighbor who is trying to help is not the Floyd County way. Yet I’m seeing more and more evidence that we losing too much of what once made living in Floyd County both unique and enjoyable.

In Floyd County General District Court on Thursdays, Judge Ed Turner presides over a disturbing number of disputes between neighbors.  The high number of civil cases brought by one neighbor against another prompted Turner to wonder, in open court, if “anyone in Floyd County gets along with their neighbors?”

While having breakfast with local musician Bernie Coveney at Blue Ridge Restaurant over the weekend, a Floyd resident who is leaving the area told us that one thing he won’t miss about living here is the trouble he had with a neighbor who complained to the town government about a workshop he maintained in his back yard.

What happened to the “live and let live” attitude that used to prevail here? The town is trying to force the resident to tear down his workshop, saying it is too close to his property line. Why? It’s his property.

Floyd Countians didn’t used to try to tell their neighbors what they could and could not do on their own property. One of our neighbors tunes his race cars at night. Sure, it gets loud sometimes but he loves racing and I’m not about to spoil that by bitching to the county.

We live in a diverse county with differing cultures, differing viewpoints and dissimilar lifestyles. There was a time when people lived the way they wanted without interference from their neighbors or a governmental entities. There was a time when neighbor helped neighbor. We still see a lot of that here but we also see people yelling at each other and taking each other to court to settle petty disagreements.

Not good.

8 COMMENTS

  1. I guess we’re just lucky where we live in Pulaski County. We had great neighbors out pushing snow with their pick-ups, scooping it with their loaders and Bobcats, and did all of that before we saw the first VDOT truck come into our community. The neighbors actually had the roads all very drivable, everyone’s mailbox and driveway accesses cleared and opened, and snow pushed to the side…then VDOT came through and shoved snow right back into driveways and re-blocked mailboxes, nearly 2 days after the snow stopped.

    We live not far from the Motor Mile Speedway, so I understand the race car noise. The track was there long before we were, and unless we’re sitting outside on a Saturday night, we generally don’t hear much if the windows are closed. Several of our neighbors have workshops, work on their cars, target practice, or do a myriad of other things during the days, and everyone is fine with it. Many even offer to help out, or stop to offer compliments on ongoing projects (I can’t recall how many neighbors stopped while I’ve been working on my landscaping). It’s a great little community, and I love living there. I hope the way of our neighbors continues for as long as we’re there, it makes it far more pleasant a place to live than the apartment blocks, upper/middle income HOA neighborhoods, gated communities, and other places I’ve lived through the years.

  2. Doug,

    As my eldest son, who is now approaching 30 likes to say – “welcome to the new world, dad”. So, I pass it along to you. Welcome to the new world, Doug.

    I truly believe civility, common courtesy (e.g. your neighbor tuning his race car in the evening. Does he even stop for one second to consider those around him and how they may view his activities? Apparently not), common sense (e.g. the ice storm of 12/12/09 on Ben Wade hill. A friend was returning from visiting another friend. All the traffic was trying to traverse the “hill” by utilizing the shoulders as the road was a solid slick. He attempted to go up the hill in his Mustang but started slipping all over the place. So he got over as far as he could, turned it off, locked the door and started walking up the hill as he didn’t live too far away. Two idiots in a Suburban behind him became abusive with him, calling him a pussy and telling him if he didn’t move they were going to roll his vehicle over the side of the hill. Needless to say, those two idiots utlimately went around him and then promptly got into an accident which tied up the hill for over two hours. I know, I was in the god-awful traffic tie-up that the accident caused, not to mention that said accident resulted in VDOT trucks not being able to shoot salt under the vehicles stopped on route 8. News flash idiots in Suburban – ice is very slick and very dangerous – no common sense and no civility)

    I suppose one can’t bemoan the slippage of civility and courtesy and concern for one another when virtually every media outlet today constantly spews forth disrespect, gore, rage, profanity, etc etc etc etc. Sure, I can change my channels. I can choose not to watch or listen or read. But too many people seem to enjoy that stuff. The end result of which you write about should not be unexpected.

    Welcome to the new world.

  3. I too think it’s generally a lack of civility, not a matter of where people live. Here in NoVa, I had to be up very early the morning of our 20″ fall, and I had some energy, so I shovelled the walks of all my neighbors (we live in townhouses). I shovelled at 6, 7, 8 and 9AM–Just ’cause. Everyone had nice clean sidewalks to wake up to. Then my neighbor came and cleaned his car off and left the debris on MY previously clean sidewalk and drove away. I seriously considered shovelling everything in front of his door, but civility prevailed and I mearly grit my teeth and cleaned off my sidewalk again. But next time it snows I probably won’t bother with HIS walk…

  4. I had a friend help me with clearing my driveway and decks (though he bought a car from me and needed to clear the driveway to free it), and then we helped clear out for some other friend’s cars. We also went to their house and cleared some parking areas and a walkway for them, and got asked if we could clear around a mailbox for their neighbor (by the neighbor). We offered to just do it while we were there, but they insisted on paying us for it. We tried to refuse, just thought we’d be nice and do it since they asked, but they refused to take a no, so we graciusly accepted. A few moments later, my snow shovel snapped, and they brought theirs out for us to finsih what we were doing. They wound up paying us $20 to clear around their mailbox, and the new snow shovel ran me $19.83 at Lowes. Sometimes the universe just works that way.

  5. There was only one person (not two) in the Suburban, and he was the peacemaker between the young man who owned the Mustang and another man in a vehicle behind them. He asked the young man not to abandon his Mustang since all the other vehicles, which were behind the Mustang, were successfully climbing the hill, slowly but surely, by driving partly on the shoulder. The young man agreed, and waited ini his car until the VDOT trucks drove by to treat the road. The driver of the Suburban was also able to calm down the angry man who had been driving a vehicle behind him. The Suburban was subsequently involved an accident, yes, but it was hit where originally stopped (behind the Mustang) by a car coming from the other direction that slid across the ice. The Suburban had not driven past the Mustang. Fortunately, the damages to the Suburban were minor. Everyone has their unique perspective, and this incident can also be regarded as one in which peacemaking triumphed. In fact, the driver whose car slid into the Suburban stated it was fortunate he was parked there as the damages to her car might have been much worse had she hit the guard rail. She referred to him her “angel.”

  6. I believe the country is slowly moving away from the love of freedom and individualism. To often people are more concerned about the lifstyle of those around them. For example, christian groups attacking lifestyles they disagree with. Often people or groups turn to the government to force someone to live or act the way we feel they should. This is slowly bleeding over to our day to day lives. We are becoming accustomed to the idea that we can force our ideas on others. Few Americans think about the rights and feelings of others. The principles this country was founded on ( personal freedom and personal responibility) are long go and have been replaced by authoritarianism. We seem to have lost the respect for each other and I’m not sure how we get it back.

  7. I have found that folks in Floyd are MUCH more friendly and more courteous than anywhere I have lived in Virginia (or anywhere else, for that matter). We have only been here a short while, and already I know more neighbors in Floyd than in Richmond. They have accepted me without hesitation, and while they do tease me about being new to the region, they mean it in a friendly way. Forgive the folks who are quick to snap; there is so much more that weighs heavily on all our minds these days. When people are worrying about their jobs, keeping their families warm, and other harsh matters, it is hard to remember HOW to be good to each other.

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