looked at it and then I decided that I had no choice. So I hitched up my full-size backpack, my collapsed
camp chair and my laptop bag...and walked right on in.
I was tired, overheated, out of breath and brand new in the small town city of Fairmont, West
The librarians looked up and stared.
They didn't sneer or glare...they just stared.
"What's that sign all about?" I asked...pointing to the worst notice that I have ever read in a
The librarians looked at each other and one of them appeared to be a bit embarrassed when she
said, "Oh, that's nothing...don't worry about it...you're okay."
"Good" I replied, "Cuz I almost thought that you were trying to tell homeless people and
old hippies like me that we can't come in here and read."
The two ladies studied their hands...leaning against the counter in that aging center filled with
chaptered creativity. No one said anything for a moment.
The truth had been told and my reaction to it had been expressed.
Then, one of the librarians broke the spell when she looked up at me, smiled and said, "You're
new here, aren't you?"
"Well, welcome to Fairmont."
The library keeps two gecko-like reptiles in a glass enclosure. The lizards eat their weight in
live crickets every day. The librarians let me use the phone because mine (for some unknown
reason) won't work in this part of West Virginia. Red Neck Republicans gaze at me while I
hunch over my laptop...as the trappings of my lifestyle lay in a quiet pile around my feet.
I learned over the period of four days that the sign on the library door stands for something more
than a Southern dislike for transient trappings.
But then...I learned about prejudice long before I reached West Virginia.
I learned about Eastern, stereotypical hatred on a hot, humid afternoon...several miles outside
of the village of Dalton, Ohio.