There’s a new group of folks here, but not for long. I’m calling them the “Albany Timeliners”. These are people that have made Albany home for years, some living here all their lives, but are now marking a date on the calendar when they will leave, if things do not improve. Some are going no matter what happens. They are just fed up with the mess. Some are already gone.
I’ve been amazed at just how widespread this club is, and how quick they are to tell you something like, “Oh, I am so outta here!”. You can almost sense the relief, underneath the surface tension, as they proceed to tell you how long they have left to endure the misery of Albany. I’m not going to get into listing names. It would read like the book of Genesis when it reveals who begot who. If they want you to know, believe me, they will tell you. Some are friends, some I know through business, and some were just random conversations in the grocery line with folks I don’t know at all. They are a widespread bunch.
Albany has been dealing with “flight” issues for a good while. First, it was the dreaded white flight to Lee County, but this is more than that. Then there came the wave of people looking for better paying jobs, or just any job, but most of these have jobs, good jobs. There has always been a strong vibe in our young people to get out as soon as they were done with school, which in itself is probably a very normal and healthy thing, common in most small and mid-size communities like ours. But even this “see the world” mindset in our kids had morphed into a desperate angst to leave and not look back.
Most Timeliners are organized and rational people, otherwise they would be packing a few boxes and hitting the road this weekend. No, these people have an agenda; they have a plan of action. Many are professionals that cannot simply walk away without such a plan. They have some level of investment here, either in their business or personal lives, that requires membership in this new club.
The two most popular levels of membership are the two-year and three-year planners. This sounds rational. Not too soon, but close enough to see. If you press them they may say that plans could change if Albany does, but that’s only if you press them. Their head is not there because they have come to believe, just as the sky is blue, (somewhere), that Albany is not going to change in the foreseeable future.
Who can take issue with that? Recent statistics may show a slight uptick in our population numbers, something some local politicians have tossed out there as proof that, “things ain’t so bad!”, but those numbers are stacked. Our growth is in unwed births, not incoming, highly paid professionals. Unwed births do not help a community, they cost it money, and only feed the very demographic that weighs it’s future down. At some point, the numbers of those living off the system will overwhelm it and shut it down. Then what? Albany is rapidly running out of patience from those having to put up with, and pay for everything. The Albany Timeliners are a natural outgrowth of our decline.
With unemployment and crime high and rising, law enforcement understaffed, old school, racist politicians stirring the pot for votes every few years, corrupt city officials, a massive, poorly educated population subsisting on welfare and other programs, and a culture of poverty that is generational, who can blame the Timeliners? Life is short, so why spend it here? They don’t plan to much longer.
Written by Lon McNeil. Mr. McNeil is an Albany independent marketing consultant. Find him online at AlbanyOnPoint.