McNeil's Produce on Highway 100, just west of the northern terminus of the Natchez Trace Parkway, has been vandalized for the second time in 2 years. Two summers ago in a fit of sheer meanness, someone, or someones, burned the McNeil's original wood shed to the ground. The family put up a metal shed then,and put a metal guard fence around it. And this weekend, the Someones came back. They could not burn the shed, so they took paper cups full of red paint and tossed them over the roof, the concrete walkway, and hundreds of dollars worth of produce. All the tomatoes were ruined. I saw the aftermath of this this morning when the hounds and I drove out to buy some squash.
When I saw the McNeil's over-painting , I thought they were just sprucing the shed up. There was red paint dribbled over the ramp into the shed a la Jackson Pollock. "Don't worry. It's dry", Mr McNeil said, and then he told me the story. He'd given the Metro Police a report over the phone. He had a coffee cup the Someones left behind. The police were going to come get it. Maybe there were prints. The McNeil's have ordered three security cameras. Mr McNeil may put up Plexiglas panels to protect the peaches and potatoes. "If they come back when I'm here, I'll shoot them", he said.
This may sound like just a local story, but in your heart you know it is not. Vandalism is as old as human life. Perhaps a suburban mother in a mini-van with toddlers in tow did it. Maybe an elderly man, a retiree in a little red pickup on his way to go fishing- But we all know they didn't. We can guess what age. We can guess what sex. If the Someones are underage, they may get away with it. If caught their records may be sealed. But if they are not, they are felons. And in the age of computers and databases, felony is forever. Once young men with pasts stained by youthful stupidity could go west to a new life. A new leaf. People can mature.
But now these misdeeds, this mindlessness will follow forever. A felon has walked through a door he or she cannot go back through. Forget the professions for your future. You have been guilty of moral turpitude. Forget being a security guard or a fast food store manager. You cannot escape the background check. It is everywhere. If you are the someone who sprayed paint all over the McNeil's shed,and you are caught, you are about to find that you also painted yourself with the Scarlet Letter- "F"- for felon. And you can never wash it off.