Tears and Laughter: Wilcox loses again, and again, and again

“Nobody worth a damn could ever come from such a place. It was nothing.” If you didn’t know better, you could think novelist James Dickey was writing about Wilcox County. That is how it sometimes seems we are perceived, like we are nothing.

Last week, it got even worse. With the stroke of his pen, Governor Bentley closed the DMV office, the National Guard Armory, and our beloved Roland Cooper State Park.

It wasn’t meant to hurt us. It wasn’t an effort to stop anyone from getting Voter ID cards. There was no picking or choosing. There was just a budget and an equation. Numbers were keyed in and what didn’t show profit got cut.

Which is why everyone can relax, the ABC Store will remain open. But it does say something about the place when we have had the highest unemployment rate in the state practically since statistics have been kept, and yet our liquor store shows a consistent profit. We are a bit out of balance it seems.

It certainly gives everyone reason to pause. I hope all of the mass crowds scrambling to get an ID so they can vote are careful to choose the least inefficient leaders on the ballot in the next election.

You can still get a free Voter ID at the Board of Registrar’s office. There if one in every county including Wilcox. In Camden, it is located directly across the hall from the now closed Driver’s License office.

My son was set to take his Driver’s Permit test Tuesday. I explained what has happened to him. He smiled in disbelief.

I had already considered going elsewhere in the first place, but this is home. Only being open one day a week with a single officer handling permit tests, road tests, and that long line of voters needing IDs makes for extended wait times. Sometimes there were more people than time will allow for and some of them have to make a return trip the next week.

Ms. Pat Barkley – Officer Barkley – did a great job operating Camden’s Driver’s License office. She had to have a lot of patience to put up with all of us. She is an excellent example of good leadership. Everyone was a little intimidated by her demeanor, and of course anyone testing was always nervous around her because they were afraid they would fail.

Both of my oldest daughters scared her half to death on more than one occasion while taking their driver’s test in downtown Camden. One of them failed on Fail Street. They eventually passed, and when they did I think I caught a softening of her eyes and the slightest hint of a smile.

I had thought all of my kids would get their licenses under her, and once they did I had planned to send her a card telling her how much we had grown to appreciate her over the years. Not just my kids, but every young person who ever left the DMV with a permit or driver’s license.

A proper good-bye would have been nice. We will miss you Officer Barkley, and it is our hope the state will find a way to soon have you back. There are a lot of new drivers and their mamas here who want to hug your neck.

Amanda Walker is a columnist with The West Alabama Watchman, Al.com, The Thomasville Times, and The Wilcox Progressive Era. For more information, visit her on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/AmandaWalker.Columnist.