My Alaskan Stereotype

So AJ Dawg and I were sitting on a bench in front of Doubletree Hotel. I know that sounds peculiar in itself, but we are both old and needed  break from walking  and the bench is one of the few left in Downtown Huntington.  

A Jeep pulled up and a couple got out. A lady was finishing her cigarette and she asked, “Aren’t you Alligator Jackson?” 

Well, that isn’t unusual but what made it interesting for me was where she lives—- Alaska.  

The first thing that popped in my mind was Northern Exposure. The show was set in a small town in Alaska and ran on CBS from 1990 to 95. I blurted out the name of the show but she wasn’t familiar with it.  

Being from Alaska immediately intrigued me. My first question was why she was here in West Virginia? 

It turns out she came in for a wedding. She grew up in Huntington and still owns a house here.  

Of course that led to the obligatory question -  
“How did you end up in Alaska?” 

Her best friend took a job up there in 1996. She went through a bad breakup here in 2002. She visited her friend and took a job in police work. She lives in a town of 3500 and the money is pretty good. She has lived in Alaska for twenty years.  

Well, Northern Exposure kept popping up in my mind. It struck me a little odd that she lived in Alaska and never heard of the show. The show is one of my favorite shows ever. It was about a doctor from New York  who graduates from Columbia University medical school and is assigned to work in the tiny Alaskan town of Cicely to pay for his education. The location is very remote.   It is a classic fish out of water premise. The town is full of quirky characters. It is got that small town charm and comes across like a colder Mayberry.  

So now I realize how stereotypical I was being. She mentioned a small town in Alaska and suddenly I am picturing people bundled up in jackets and living in cabins and igloos and walking down frozen dirt roads with elk.  

West Virginians have long been victim of stereotypes but I suddenly realized that I have no concept of the Alaskan culture.  

I would have loved to ask her questions about life in Alaska. I am very sure the words “polar bear” would have popped up in at least one question.  I may have eventually asked her if she knew Sarah Palin.  

So as I am googling life in Alaska I realize something. I may want to be a little bit tolerant the next time I’m out west and someone says they didn’t know West Virginia was a state. Maybe I’ll be understanding if they ask me if I am a coal miner.

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