I don’t like to paint people with a broad brush. It’s the easy & intellectually lazy thing to do…
…but sometimes your reputation precedes you.
Case in point: West Virginia.
I can’t help but think about an article in Huffington Post about Jim Webb and his quest to address poverty & racial disparity in rural America. West Virgina got the short end of the stick when it broke away from Virginia. The mountains of WV are beautiful and the fall scenery is fantastic; however, the inner-city of Charleston was one of the poorest places I’ve ever seen in my life — and I’m from the city of Chicago and have lived in St. Louis, London, and rural Michigan.
Parts of American really need our help.
I spent the night at a pet-friendly motel on the outskirts of Charleston. The place was cheap (good) but sketchy. I paid the $15, non-refundable pet deposit; I didn’t take a shower; and I slept in my clothes. I held the remote control through a tissue and I tried to ignore the guys smoking in the next room — even though it was a non-smoking building.
The scene on the streets of West Virgina? It was weird and complicated.
- I saw men standing around drinking beer — next to their cars.
- I talked to a woman who tried to convince me that there’s a government conspiracy to raise gas prices to $6.00/gallon — only on Fridays.
- I saw a man standing in the motel’s parking lot without his shoes.
That’s right. Some dude was in a motel parking lot (ick) with no shoes on (ick) and he was taking delivery of a Domino’s Pizza (ick). Did I mention that he was arguing with the driver about the time it took to deliver the pizza?
The shoeless man looked at me and said, “Can you believe they wanted me to come all the way out here and get my pizza? I am in my pajamas!”
No shit, buddy. I see it. The whole world sees it. Now put on some shoes, you weirdo.
I think the saddest part of the night occurred when I ordered a small bacon pizza from Papa John’s. It was $15.63 — which seems high, but I wasn’t going to argue about it. I paid the delivery driver with a twenty and I told him to keep the change.
The driver thanked me profusely — to the point where I felt a little uncomfortable — and said, “You don’t know what kind of night I’m having. It’s the worst night. No one is tipping. This is my second job and I’m not making any money.”
Good lord. Second job? Papa John’s? The guy got excited about $4.37?
Life shouldn’t have to be this hard.
I’ll be driving through West Virginia two more times as I head back to Michigan and make my final journey home to Raleigh.
I have one thing to say to the government and civic leaders in West Virginia:
- UR DOIN IT WRONG.
Although your fall colors are very lovely and I will definitely stop on the ride home and take some pictures.