No. 265



Several times a year I get invited to another state or part of the country to make a speech and Im always proud to tell those in my audience that I am from Conway, Arkansas. Not to brag, but we have one of the finest and fastest growing communities in our state. The population has more than doubled in the past ten to fifteen years. When my wife and I moved to this area, the population was less than twenty thousand and now its approaching fifty thousand.

Before I share something humorous that happened a while back I want you to know that what Ive just said may be very sensitive to you. I know for a fact that my column runs in a number of communities who have suffered a decline in population. There are many reasons for this but the major cause is all the eggs in one basket. When 80% of an areas economy is tied to one large plant, industry or company and they cut back, close or move to another location, the consequences are devastating. If this hits close to home, please know that I care and wish there was something I could do to help your people.

As a quick aside to what I am saying about wanting to be of service, Ive always tried to be honest, but sometimes life is more than interesting when you are committed to old fashioned values. Its like this fella who said he got home late one evening, from driving back from a speaking engagement, and there was a note on his pillow that his wife had written. The note said, Regardless of what time you get in, please call 227-9603. So he dialed the number and a rather sleepy voice on the other end of the line said, Hello. It was obvious that he had woken the poor guy up so he said, Is this 227-9603? This fella said, It is not. He said his wife didnt usually make mistakes, so he asked again, Are you sure this is not 227-9603? The voice on the other end of the line then said, Friend, have I ever lied to you before? From me to thee, may it always be so.

The humorous story I mentioned is based on the fact that population, for the sake of numbers, is just a relative thing. We can always think of people who live in a smaller town a few miles away as those who live in the country. I remember one time we were having a jury trial and at the last minute, one of the lawyers discovered he did not have a key witness. Since this witness lived a good distance from the court house, the lawyer drew a map of where he lived and sent one of his assistants out to bring him in.

This assistant had a late model car and he left the court house and soon found himself on the highway east of town. After about ten miles he turned onto a gravel road and followed it for four more miles. When the gravel road played out there was a set of ruts going out across a pasture. Confident he was following the right directions, this assistant stayed in the ruts until they came to a creek where they ended.

At this point he got out of his car and looked around and then he saw a rope hanging over the creek where people had been swinging across to the other side. When he swung over there he could see a small house sitting way back in the pine trees. Being a little leery he began to holler, Hello, the house and no one appeared. After hollering a few more times he approached the house and could see a little piece of notebook paper pinned to the screen door.

He first thought it might be a warning of some contagious disease. He finally decided to remove it and here is what it said, Gone to the country for the weekend. The moral of this story is simply this, DONT BRAG ABOUT POPULATION BECAUSE ITS JUST A RELATIVE THING! (Jim Davidson is a motivational speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034.)