The ride to Defiance was interesting. Why was it interesting? It was interesting because I followed one road, Poe Road, for 30 miles. That made life pretty easy. There was no need to constantly check the directions. There was hardly a need to check for traffic. I just went straight for a long, long time.
I followed Poe Road to the Maumee River, then followed the river Southwest. Again, there was hardly any traffic. It was as if I had the whole state of Ohio to myself. I passed through a bunch of oddly named towns. There was Napoleon, Florida, Independence and finally, Defiance. I'm sure there was a theme there, I must have just not been getting it.
That evening I stayed in the home of Matt and Rose. They reminded me much of my parents at an earlier age. The two were were an open-minded couple in a staunchly conservative community, much as my parents were for a good 16 years. They also had an amazing Siamese cat similar to my parents'. That evening I got lost in our conversation. I felt I could really relate to these people.
They had a fun, alternative family. Their family went beyond their daughter and cat. It included exchange students they've hosted from all over the world. They proudly hung pictures of their German "daughter" and their Korean "daughter" and their Swiss "son" in the living room. You could tell that sharing their home was something special to these two.
I found that Matt had some really interesting insights into his community. He was a behavioral health counselor in an integrated health clinic. Counselor might not be the right word, perhaps it would be more accurate to describe him as a coach. Regardless of title, he worked with his clients to develop strategies for self-betterment.
He shared a fundamental observation with me. Many of these smaller towns in the Rust Belt are entirely reliant upon a single employer. He joked that Clyde may as well be called Whirlpool Town, because pretty much everyone there was employed by Whirlpool. When the town's sole employer gets up and leaves, things fall apart. He stated it simply, "These people don't have a plan B." Matt spent a lot of his time working with people who didn't have a plan B.
I reflected. College-educated folks living in the city (like myself) don't just have a plan B. They have a plan C, D, E, F and G. I don't know if I could ever relate to the experience of being entirely reliant upon a single employer. I don't say that to brag. I say it more to acknowledge that the concerns of folks in the manufacturing industry about disappearing jobs are more grave than I previously imagined. In all honesty their concerns may be beyond my comprehension.
We spent a long time talking. I really enjoyed relating to such an interesting couple. Around 10:30 or so they made their ways to bed. Sometimes I forget that the whole world isn't on my schedule where days don't really matter. When they called it a night I figured I should to. I retired to their cozy little guest room.