My second day in Asheville took me to West Asheville where much of the local vibe resides. Tight street and unique places were abound. I lucked out when I discovered an afternoon farmers/makers market and found a near-by parking space. I inquired about joining the event impromptu, but the directors felt my project was a little too political for their mission statement. Understandable. They were very helpful in passing me around the community of people to perhaps find a better spot, something on the street and more visible. Sure enough, there was an empty lot on the main drag and I prepared to move my rig.
Before going I had a nice stream of visitors walking to the market who engaged my project. Everyone was really excited about it and the energy continued from the night before. Except, as I was pitching my story, I noticed a blue-collar gentleman watch all this from the parking lot, a disgusted look on his face. This was not my first encounter with disapproval, but I felt it necessary to provide explanation. Then the bottom fell out of the clouds and summertime thunderstorm gave Asheville a healthy shower. I waited out the rain sitting in my truck, a good 45 minutes. As the rain let-up, I saw the mechanic walking past my trailer towards his shop. I instinctively hopped out and went to talk to him.
Upon approach I asked if he would like to know what's going on. He turned, facing me squarely said, "No. I know what's going on." I noticed his embroidered name in the classic oval, "Robert". I said, "My name is Robert, too" hoping to find a quick commonality. He folded his arms in a just manner and asked me if I was ex-militiary. "No sir." I replied. "Then I have no reason to talk to you." With that he walked off and I thanked him for his time.
The rain began to fall again, running me back into the cab, where I had the opportunity to digest what just went down. I had many thoughts about the way military people feel unappreciated by the general populace and the idea that our freedoms are provided by these people. This is misguided, but cannot be investigated in the minds of our national militia because you are never going to convince them of their function vs their perceived role. I knew I was going to encounter this, even anticipate getting punched or tires slashed out of anger for what I am doing. But I realized, with my pile of fresh stickers, Robert just proved my example. He showed tolerance for an idea that he disapproved. In that moment, we traversed free-speech, being offended, confrontation, and peaceful resolve. I have great admiration for our military personnel, which grew even more today because of meeting Robert: mechanic, veteran, patriot, American.