By Justin D. Anderson
BLB Guest Blogger
HURRICANE, W.Va. - I grew up in the Northern Panhandle of West Virginia. Imagine a landscape scarred by rusted steel and coke mills and half-vacant strip malls with dark mountains as a backdrop. I love it, and always will.
It's the kind of place that makes people hard. But they're hard in a good way. They don't expect nothing from no one. They work. They're good people. They'll give a filthy hobo the last dollar they have in their pocket, for instance. They show each other respect. They don't blow their horns and cuss if the guy in front of them hasn't immediately noticed the green light.
Having lived near Charleston, W.Va., since 2005, I can say the landscape is about the same as up north, but the people, by and large, are total jerks. Bunch of white trash. The late Hunter S. Thompson once mentioned a phenomenon called "white trash arrogance." He didn't get into the details of what it was, but if you spend any time in the Kanawha River Valley, you come to recognize it really quick.
The worst drivers on the interstates around here are not the be-suited yuppies in their BMWs. No. They are the 23-year-old women in beaten up Chevy Cavaliers with a cell phone hanging out of their ear and two unrestrained toddlers romping around in the backseat. They'll cut you off at 80 mph and throw you the finger at the same time ... just because you were holding them up from getting to the free clinic on time for their hepatitis treatment or bailing their child's father out of jail.
White trash arrogance.
In my former line of work, I had to deal with the courthouse. Most people are polite and respectful when they're waiting on the clerk to give them their documents. But sometimes you'll get a person pounding on the counter screaming about how "That ol' piece of trash ain't gittin' nothin' from me!" or "They done told me my fine for dog-tetherin' was all paid up! Y'all people don't know what you doin'" and then leave the courthouse in a huff.
Of course, this attitude isn't just in the ‘hollers of Southern West Virginia. And it's not confined to arrogance.
The story continues tomorrow…
Justin D. Anderson previously worked as a reporter with the Charleston Daily Mail in West Virginia. He is planning to move to Morgantown, W.Va., and can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org
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