Every state has its own social oddities and unique quirks. Whether environmental or cultural, there are always those awkward little moments that only happen in your state. West Virginia is no different. These collective experiences that West Virginians all share can generate a thousand little awkward moments throughout our lives.
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1. Explaining to out-of-towners that West Virginia is its own state.
This is a strange belief that still persists to this day - that West Virginia is just the western part of Virginia. We have all had to explain this at least once, especially when providing an address to someone over the phone. This is probably because WV is the only state that doesn’t have a companion state denoted by a cardinal direction, like the Dakotas or the Carolinas.
2. Receiving a blank stare when asking for a "pop" out-of-state.
One staple of Appalachian culture is the use of the word Pop when referring to soda. This is from the original term Soda Pop. Most states have since dropped the word pop, others dropped soda. It is not uncommon for a West Virginian to ask for pop in a restaurant or for directions to the pop aisle in a grocery store, only to be met with a blank stare.
3. The unavoidable heavy sweating that accompanies a typical summer day.
One thing that no West Virginian enjoys is a hot day during high summer, when the temperature is typically in the low to mid nineties and the humidity is 100 percent. Add to this an almost complete lack of wind. On a day like that, it only takes about 10 minutes before you are visibly sweating. This can be very awkward in situations like job interviews or lunch dates.
4. Having to explain to out-of-towners that WV is not a state entirely populated by barefoot hillbillies.
This is a stereotypical belief perpetuated by certain forms of media like TV and film, and as such, it is wildly exaggerated.
5. Explaining to out-of-towners that John Denver’s "Take Me Home, Country Roads" doesn’t accurately describe West Virginia.
Of course, this one is confusing, since it was adopted as our state song. To begin with, John Denver had never stepped foot in West Virginia when he wrote that song (with the help of two friends). Had he been familiar with this state he would know that the Blue Ridge Mountains are in Virginia and barely touch West Virginia at all, and the Shenandoah River only briefly passes through the eastern panhandle of the state for a distance of roughly 20 miles. It is the state of Virginia that is characterized by these natural locations.
6. Realizing you went overboard stocking your house with supplies in preparation for a big storm.
This one happens pretty frequently, whenever a storm is about to hit (either in the winter or summer) West Virginians flock to the local grocery stores and Walmarts, apparently preparing for nothing less than Armageddon. If a storm is coming, every West Virginian knows to hit the store before the shelves begin to empty, only to find themselves staring at an overabundance of food and bottled water for a storm that was nowhere near as bad as predicted. However, the panic is sometimes justified as every year there is at least one storm the can leave people without electricity for a week or more.
7. That giant water stain on the carpet courtesy of a busted water pipe.
West Virginia homes get frozen pipes in the winter – it happens every year to thousands of residents. The problem is that water molecules expand as they freeze and pressure builds up in the pipe, often causing them to burst. This, of course, causes water damage that can leave behind huge stains. It’s never fun when you have to explain to guests why it looks like a dinosaur urinated in the living room.
8. When you get confused looks from the usage of uniquely Appalachian words.
There are just certain words in the West Virginian dialect that basically confuse the heck out of people from other states. These words include holler (mountain valley), crick (creak), mater (tomato), warsh (wash) and britches (pants), to name just a few.
9. That awkward un-bundling of winter clothes on very cold days.
Early in the year, West Virginia can get very cold, especially in February. It is not uncommon for temperatures to drop into the single digits, and sometimes even fall below 0 degrees. When that occurs, the layers go on to the point where West Virginians look less like people and more like human burritos (think Randy Parker from A Christmas Story). So, whenever one enters a store or similar establishment, that is when the customary un-stripping of heavy gloves and head wrappings occurs. Because very cold weather causes a runny nose, this ritual concludes with removing a wad of Kleenex from your pocket kept specifically for the purpose of wiping your nose.
10. Close encounters with deer on the roads.
This doesn’t just occur on back country roads. Any road that is bordered by woods carries with it a potential collision or near collision with deer. It can be very dangerous, but also very awkward, driving to your eventual destination in a car covered with blood and fur (if you are lucky enough to have a car that is not severely damaged by the collision in the first place.)
11. Ordering a Hot Dog with slaw and sauce outside of West Virginia.
Depending on what state you are in, you may not find a hot dog place that actually has cole slaw as a topping for your dog, especially out west. A hot dog with chili sauce is much more common, but a combination of the two seems to be more or less restricted to the Appalachian region.
12. Forgetting school is closed because hunting season has begun.
Yes, hunting season is a big deal in West Virginia. If you are not a hunter, it is easy to forget about a school closing until you are awkwardly standing in front of a vacant schoolhouse wondering why no one is there.
13. Trying to find a Tudor's Biscuit World while on vacation, only to realize there are none.
Tudor's Biscuit World is basically the go-to place for biscuits and gravy in this region. Aside from a single location in Panama City, Florida, there are not Tudor's outside West Virginia, Ohio, or Kentucky - and most of them are clustered around the Huntington-Charleston region of the state. With such a heavy proliferation of these restaurants, its easy to forget that Tudor's is a very localized franchise.
These are just a few of the moments that West Virginians may experience at least once in their lives, or even on a regular basis. Can you think of more? If so, please feel free to comment below and add to the discussion.