There was a time back in the late 1990's when I was a familiar figure in Jefferson City, Missouri's capital. At that time I was a graduate student at the University of Missouri, just up the road in Columbia where I was working on the degree of Master of Social Work. One of the ways that I filled in my non-school time during those years was as an operator/counselor at the state's child abuse and neglect hotline which is located in a rather nondescript building in Jefferson City.
But that was then.
After graduating from MU, I had very little contact with the central part of the state - that is until yesterday when I left my farm at 3:30 a.m. to ensure that I could make the road trip north to the capital safely and without having to rush. Most of the drive was in the rain.
It was my first trip to Jefferson City from West Plains, and I seriously misjudged the amount of time it would take to get there. The class that I was attending (continuing education for renewal of my social work license) did not begin until 8:00 a.m., and I was in town and at the parking garage a little before six. I also misjudged the city traffic. Jeff City is little more than an overgrown cowtown of offices and watering holes for politicians. Traffic is almost a bigger problem in West Plains than it is in downtown Jefferson City.
Oh, well, my early arrival gave me plenty of time to look around - I suppose.
The first thing I learned on my capital city walkabout is that the place is a mecca for lobbyists. Just about every building was inhabited by lawyers or representatives of some trade or labor group. I spied the offices of the Missouri School Boards Association and teachers groups near the capitol building, as well as groups representing convenience stores and elk growers. Anyone with any interest in government has an office in Jefferson City where they can readily buy some of it.
I also discovered that almost all of the downtown cafes don't open until eleven. I guess that must be when our esteemed legislators crawl out of their lobbyist-funded beds and begin stumbling into work. (Did I just use the terms "legislators" and "work" in the same sentence? Missouri legislators, at that!)
After a morning in the most boring class that I have endured in recent memory, I had lunch with an old friend whom I hadn't seen for several years. The visit was great - even if the lunch was not. It was followed by the afternoon class session, which was somehow even worse that what we had to sit through that morning.
Most of the ride home was in a downpour, and I got back to Rock's Roost just in time to put the chickens - and then myself - to bed. Today I am on the road to Springfield (two hours each way) for a doctor's appointment - and it is raining again!.
Living in the country makes for a fair amount of driving!