A buddy of mine from California saw a map online that showed how much money per hour a person needs to earn in order to afford rent in their state. California is one of the more expensive states and he wondered if he’d have to move. I’m familiar with his economic situation, so I told him he was going to have to move to Mississippi, one of the least expensive states, according to the map.
I said it as a joke, but then I remembered my experience in Mississippi a long time ago and I changed my tune.
Feb 1972 I’m one of 7 long haired (yes, I had hair) hungover college kids returning to the frozen Nawth from Mardi Gras in New Orleans. My roommate’s cousin was driving. He had decided to stay an extra night. My money plans didn’t count on this and I was just about broke. We pulled into a small diner off I-55 in Jackson, MS, expecting grief for our appearance. I only had enough money for a hamburger & fries, but not for a Coke, which I desperately wanted. The blonde 30ish waitress asked, “Honey, Don’t you want a Coke with that?” “Not enough money” I mumbled sheepishly. With that, she grabbed a glass and pushed it in the dispenser. As the glass filled up, she said “Cain’t have a burger & fries without a Coke! Here you go Sugar! It’s on me.” I never had a Coke that tasted so good. Mississippi has a lot of poverty, but it’s also got a lot of really nice people. That waitress has got to be in her 80s now. I hope on some level, she knows that I remember her kindness after all these years.
With people like that, Mississippi might not be such a bad place to live at all.