One time a friend of mine and I flew my plane from Dallas to Vero Beach Florida. I told the computer to find me the cheapest fuel half way between them. It popped up with Quitman Mississippi. Customer reviews for Quitman airport were good on the inter-net so that is how I flight planned it. I just now looked it up and in the last census the population of Quitman was 2,400 people.
The trip from Dallas to Quitman was great and I met the airport manager, his wife and their three kids while I was stopped on the way out to Florida.
A few days later on the way back there was some bad weather to the west of Quitman, between Quitman and Dallas, so I stopped at Quitman for the night to let the front pass. When I asked the airport manager to get us a cab he said no way, his wife would be glad to give us a ride into town. I asked her which hotel was the best and with a look that said “silly city people” she replied that there was only one hotel so it was sure to be the best! :)
I offered to pay her for the ride but she said not to bother, she took travelers to the hotel all the time and it was a nice excuse to get out.
That night in the hotel I remember watching one of the worst movies ever while waiting for weather to pass- “Speed 2”. That has to got to be one of the sharpest drop offs in quality between the first movie and the sequel EVER. I swear I could hear my brain cells screaming in agony before they commited ritual suicide while I was watching that abomonation.
Anyway, the “best” hotel in town did not have breakfast so Bill and I walked a few blocks down to the Burger King for breakfast the next morning.
At first it was subtle. As we walked down the street we noticed people seemed to be staring at us but we were not sure. Well, Bill noticed it. He kept asking me if I noticed and being the oblivious nerd I am most times I really did not notice. In fact, I thought Bill was being a touch paranoid.
When we got to the Burger King though there was no doubt. As we stood in line people were checking us out- no two ways about it- some people were even squinting their eyes as they stared at us- I am normally a very outgoing guy but this was freaking me out a little and I clammed up! Instead of my normal boisterous self I was as quiet as an alter boy in “special” training.
We sat down and started eating and this fairly elderly man sat down two tables over, turned so he could face us and just started staring at us. After a few minutes of solid staring Bill finally whispered to me, “This guy is freaking me out; I am going to ask him why he is staring at us.”
“Dude, don’t do that! He looks nuts and this place is like a f’ing Twilight Zone episode! Just eat and let’s get the hell out of here before puppets start stabbing us in the ankles!”
“No man, I can’t eat with him staring at me like that- I am going to talk to him!”
Before I could say anything more Bill stood up and said “Can I help you sir?” to the old man.
The old man furrows his brow and says to Bill in a suspicious tone, “Where are you two from?”
My internal alarms are really ringing now! Bill tells him we live in Dallas and we are heading there from Florida and just stopped here for the night.
“Did y’all you ever live ‘round here?”
“Nope, just traveling through.”
The old man starts nodding his head and says, “I knew it! I knew you boys were not from around here! I know every one around here but I thought you might be related to the McDorman’s - you bear a striking resemblance to old Roy – and I was trying to figure out which of his kids you might be."
At which point he started talking about the time he went to Florida and now that the ice was broken a few other people joined us and we all had a real nice morning conversation.
THIS was more like the small town America that I know and love. Hell I thought we were fixing to get lynched or that they were children of the corn or something but it just turns out they are off the beaten track and are just not used to seeing strangers so we were freaking them out a bit. We had a mutual freak fest going there!
Good old Bill broke the silence though!
So, the airport manager’s wife comes to pick us up and I told her about it and how odd that whole thing was. She laughed and told us how she and her husband were from upstate and how it took years before people did not stare at them anymore.
Then she kept on laughing and then she said, “As far as living in a small town goes that is NOTHING! I am always the subject of gossip around this town!”
“Why”, I asked, “because you are an outsider?”
“No, because I am a married woman and I am always seen coming and going to the only hotel in town with strange men in the car. Depending on who you ask I am either a big league prostitute or a nymphomaniac who just can’t get enough.
It's a nice place to live though.”