CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- There are a few things I don't like about West Virginia.
I don't like how some have no qualms about discarding their trash along riverbanks and roadsides.
I don't like how the many who aren't racist must suffer the embarrassment brought on by those here who are.
And I don't like the way we can't resist flaunting our superiority over Ohio. (Or is that just me?)
Beyond those few things, though, I'm impressed by how often our state seems to defy national trends. Recent stories about how Charleston is one of the top five real-estate markets in the country, for instance. Or how when the rest of the country is suffering vast numbers of foreclosures, our state doesn't seem to be hit nearly as hard.
It sometimes seems to me as if West Virginians neither enjoy the feast, nor suffer the famine. Sure, we still suffer some, just not the same way. Or perhaps our suffering doesn't seem as bad because our past has prepared and toughened us.
Over the past few decades, our nation has grown increasingly hands-off, and people are increasingly disdainful toward those who do labor-type jobs. But not here. The rest of our country has been overindulging, defining success by the wrong standards - by how much someone makes, the cars they drive, the brand of purse they carry or shoes they wear. There's been a quiet movement to hire out, to get others to mow our lawns, clean our homes, prepare our taxes, raise our children. It's almost as though the concept of doing it ourselves ceased to extend beyond calling someone else to do it for us.
But not here, where those who work construction or physical-type jobs are viewed as the real workers. Perhaps more so than those who wear suits.
A Realtor friend told me it's harder to flip homes for a profit in our state because fixer-uppers aren't as unappealing here as in other states because more of us are capable of doing the work needed ourselves. Homes don't have to be move-in perfect to move.
Perhaps the timing of this latest financial disaster won't be such a bad thing. We'll be forced to learn how much we can actually do without, or do ourselves.