Friday, June 15, 2012

Conversation With a Cyclist

Something made me look up. I saw a man riding a bicycle. A minute later I looked up again and he was at my door.

"Pardon me," he said. "Can you tell me where there is  park nearby?" It was late afternoon and broiling hot outside. "Sure," I said. I gave him directions to two. He sat down on the grass near my bus. I offered him water. "Been riding far?" I asked. "About 38 miles today," he said.

Matthew Smith
His name, he said, was Matthew Smith. "What brings you here?" He shrugged. "Homeless. Since November. Been living in this state (New Mexico) for 35 years and this is the worst I've ever seen."

Not just New Mexico but the world, he said, was no longer to his liking. "Unemployment?" he snorted. "Oh, you can find a job you might get a living wage. But is a living wage? Enough so you can eat? — Eating baloney sandwiches, maybe. It wasn't always like that, not in my life time.

"You know they have MOABs (Mother of all Bombs) in Syria, and this we have president kills people out of the sky."

He shook his head. "I was a farmer for 18 years until November."

He pauses and rolls a cigarette in the short thin paper that comes with Bugler tobacco. "They've done away with habeas corpus today. There are no civil rights anymore. They can hold you for anything. We go around the world invading countries in the name of freedom, and we destroy it at home."

My guest was tired. He sat in a full lotus position until his legs began to cramp. He stretched. His bike was a big one, solid and heavily and loaded down with most of his possessions.

"We live in a world of NewSpeak values."
"Where are you going?" I asked him

"I guess I'm here," he said


I've met a lot of men and women like Matthew Smith. They grew up in one world and now struggle to live in another.

Like many, Matthew embraces parts of the new order and while decrying changes he doesn't like.

He uses his cell phone to access Genesis Communications Network for news. He is a fan of the Alex Jones Show.  (Jones, in a blurb about his show shows, claims he sorts through "government cover-ups, mass media red herrings, and corporate scandals" to give Americans what they need —  information withheld or ignored by the mainstream media.)

Matthew disgests what he hears. The police state is here, he says. "Do you know Homeland Security is buying 450 million rounds of .40 caliber hollow point ammunition? For what? To use against civilians?"

(I was curious so I went on line to check it out. I found this video.)

He credits Aldous Huxley and George Orwell for warning us of what was coming.. He blames America for acquiescing to a big brother state of NewSpeak political values and terms, and embracing consumerism — where going to war is keeping the peace, and going in debt is living well.

U.S. Flag on his chest
He rolls another cigarette from the blue pouch of tobacco with the silhouette of a bugler standing tall on it. "Ironic, isn't  it, that we now see in camouflage a symbol of America?"

Smith is not anti-American or anti-military. He wears a blue sleeveless T-shirt with a flag of the United States in he shape of a map of the country on it, below a red bandana.

Many of his friends, he says, are veterans. Some died in the streets. "We did that to them."


"You ask where I'm going?" he says, getting up and walking to his bike.

I tell him there is park close by on the Rio Grande, that the water is high and cold. He should be able to find shade.

"You ask where I'm going?" he repeats. "I think that's a question we all should be asking." And he pedals off.


  1. I guess I'd have to agree with Matthew. I'm just sorry he's in such a financial crisis. Like a lot of people, I guess. I'm doing the same thing, except I'm lucky enough to have a nice RV to live and travel in, and I'm very happy with this lifestyle.

    After the election, things will change, one way or the other, things will change.

  2. I can't help but agree. Where are we going? I am really afraid for the future of my children and grandchildren. I don't have that much longer but who knows, I could certainly end up where Matthew is.

  3. When a person gets their news from one source and especially a source that specializes in conspiracies … it would stand to reason their reasoning would be quite distorted.

    As I travel about …. I love to see how people and where they live make their living … are they thriving? … the kids? the schools. There is crap in this world … there has always been crap.

    Education is the most important thing we can do for EVERYONE … everyone! I could go on for days about this subject….

    But as Dr. Phil … yes, Dr. Phil - said … "No matter how flat the pancake, there's always two sides."

    He was a farmer… what kind? in New Mexico? 35 years? what happened?

    The media --- in any form -- especially ones as mentioned above prey on vulnerability. Fear. Always have. Always will.

    Good post, John ;) I'd like to talk with Matthew. We could all end up like Matthew... what will stop us? us? the government will make us homeless? If the Republicans get in office... damn straight it could happen... lol

    oh, freakin sigh

    our world and the people innit - the ones who spread fear and the ones who gobble it up... that's what religion does ... controls by fear ...

  4. I'm sorry - some people are just happy being unhappy. They look around and if thereisn't something wrong they make up something news.

    The Government isn't as evil as conspiricy theorists think., just more incompetant.

  5. I really thank everyone so far for their perceptive comments. The world really largely depends on how you see it. There is great joy and optimism, great sorrow and despair, depending on where and how one looks. Wearing blinders of course is not good, but neither is choosing to reinforce one's negative views by choosing to look for the grim. I knew a cleaning lady in a restaurant who had a low paying job. It included cleaning the toilets. She was always cheerful. One day she explained to me that "I see my work as making things clean and beautiful." The lesson was not lost on me. It is what we do that counts.