I'm tired, boss
If those words sound familiar, it's because they probably are. If you've read or seen Stephen King's "The Green Mile", you'll know they were spoken by John Coffey, like the drink but not spelled the same. "The Green Mile" is one of my favorite Stephen King works. Coffey is an innocent man on death row for a crime he didn't commit in the 1930's. He also has a unusual gift.
But I'm not giving plot details or spoilers, just a quote I've often seen of late on social networking, because many people can relate to it right now.
These are exhausting times. Coffey's full quote ends with lines that are also relatable:
"I'm tired, boss. Tired of being on the road, lonely as a sparrow in the rain. I'm tired of never having a buddy to be with, to tell me where we's going to, coming from or why. Mostly, I'm tired of people being ugly to each other. I'm tired of all the pain I feel and hear in the world every day. There's too much of it. It's like pieces of glass in my head, all the time... Can you understand?"
I certainly can.
Seven months of COVID-19 and life remains uncertain. There's anxiety about health, about the upcoming flu season - that some experts are calling a double threat - about the economy and life in general. Life as we knew it has changed - the CDC recommends against trick or treating and has issued guidelines for the remaining holidays in the year. The president of the United States is hospitalized as I write this with corona virus. Missouri's Governor suffered from it. Both NFL and regional football games have been postponed or cancelled due to the virus. In the area and across the country, many events have been cancelled. The annual Neosho Fall Festival was held on Saturday but I wasn't there. Masks were recommended, not mandatory and by all accounts, masks were in the minority.
Before anyone points a finger and suggests I am living in fear, let's pause. Caution in my opinion is wise and Ben Franklin wrote "an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”. Those words, first penned in an anonymous letter to his own paper, date to 1735.
And I wear a mask not only for me but for you - love thy neighbor in practice.
The upcoming November 3 election is by far the most contentious I have ever seen, no matter which side one is aligned with. Opinions are heated, tempers run hot, and the outcome is uncertain but there's certain to be major disappointment no matter who wins.
Like John Coffey's character, I'm tired of people being ugly to each other - and they are. Comments are often brutal on social media and I've received my share. I wear a mask when I go out and about. I've had the glares and stares along with a few less than kind comments.
I'm tired, too, weary in both body and spirit, fatigued from long hours and endless days of ensuring there is a local newspaper to read.
Maybe in these difficult times, we should bond together, not tear one another apart. Maybe we should remember The Golden Rule - do unto others as you would have them to unto you.
Maybe then I will feel less lonely than a sparrow in the rain.
-Lee Ann Sontheimer Murphy is the editor of The Neosho Daily News and The Aurora Advertiser. She is also a freelance writer and novelist.