YARBROUGH COLUMN: Discussing political realities with Ryo Morning Coffee Club

Published 10:30 am Tuesday, February 28, 2023

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When Skeeter Skates calls, you had better put everything on hold. He just did and I just did. For those of you who may not be familiar with Skeeter, he is the proprietor of Skeeter Skates Tree Stump Removal and Plow Repair in Ryo, Georgia, and a legend in his field.

He is also the current presiding chair of the Ryo Morning Coffee Club, a collection of Great Americans which includes Walleye, who runs the bait shop over in Red Bud; Booger Bledsoe, who operates a local roadside vegetable stand on State Route 136 near Sugar Valley; and Uncle Coot, recently retired from the porta potty transportation industry.

It isn’t all that unusual that some topic will arise in their morning deliberations that will precipitate a phone call seeking my input. This is flattering because Skeeter will lead you to think he knows everything about everything.

I seem to have earned his trust over the years, even though that requires me listening to him explain in excruciating detail how he can replace the drivetrain on a high-torque, heavy-duty Stumper model 280HD Stump Grinder and Skid Steer mount without opening the manual.

I have thought of telling Skeeter that getting subjects and predicates to agree in a declarative sentence followed by a subordinate clause while placing commas in all the right places can be pretty difficult, too. But it would be a waste of time unless I could convince him that doing so requires getting grease under my fingernails. To Skeeter Skates, you aren’t a working man unless you’ve got grease under your fingernails.

“Hoss,” Skeeter said, “Me and the boys was talking about you this morning. We was discussing a little politics and we thought of you cause you know as little about politics as anybody.” Skeeter loves saying that.

He said, “Actually, I’m calling because you seem to know a lot of important politicians and we want you to put in a good word for us and see if we can’t get some help here in Ryo.”

I didn’t want to tell Skeeter that I really didn’t know that many important politicians but I was curious what kind of help they needed.

Skeeter said, “Ever since that old sleepy boy took over running the country, it seems we ain’t been doing all that well economically here in Ryo. Folks are putting off getting their plows repaired and stumps dug. Walleye ain’t selling near the bait he used to and Booger had to throw away a bunch of apples at his fruit stand over there on State Route 136 near Sugar Valley. Even Uncle Coot is thinking about going back into the porta potty transportation industry and we’ve not yet got the smell off him from his last job.”

Skeeter said, “How about getting hold of them two boys that went overseas, talking up how Georgia is a good place to do business and see if they can steer some of it to benefit Ryo’s economic development.”

I assumed he was talking about former Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan and former state Sen. Butch Miller and their recent boondoggle to Europe. That will be a bit of a problem, I said. They can’t bring new business to Georgia. They are out of office and out of power.

Skeeter said, “You mean out of power like a stump grinder with no gas?” I said that was a good way to look at it. Skeeter asked why would they spend their money on the trip if it wasn’t to get companies to come to Georgia.

I said they didn’t spend their money. They spent ours. The taxpayers of Georgia. Estimates are that we chipped in about $110,000 for their excursion, including $10,000 for a security detail for Geoff Duncan, who nobody in Georgia would recognize, let alone Stuttgart.

Skeeter growled, “You mean they took $110,000 of our hard-earned money and went on a sight-seeing in Europe?” That’s about the size of it, I said.

It was clear that Skeeter was exasperated, but had one last question. “Hoss, why didn’t they just go to Disneyland? It would have been a lot cheaper for us and they could have had just as much fun.” I told Skeeter maybe the former lieutenant governor and former state senator could answer that question. I certainly can’t.

I am afraid that after this conversation Skeeter Skates and his associates in the Ryo Morning Coffee Club think less of politics and those within it. I can’t say I blame them.