When I moved to the small town of Clanton, Ala., many years ago, I knew it would be different from what I had been accustomed to. The small city of about 8,000 is about halfway between Birmingham and Montgomery. It felt very rural and provincial. I felt out of place.
A newspaper chain had hired me to be general manager of the larger of the town’s two newspapers. Shortly after arriving, my ex-wife and I dubbed the place Reverse World. Everything which we knew to be good was considered horrible by the people of this newspaper. Everything which we knew to be bad was praised and valued there. The culture was broken.
Very quickly, we realized everything about the city felt that way to us. The people were generally nice folks — and I don’t hold any ill will toward them — but we felt as though up was down, in was out, black was white, and good was evil. Everything in this place felt backwards. It was disorienting, because I had to constantly question everything I knew to be true.
If I had discovered that frogs were dissecting students at the local high school, I wouldn’t have been surprised.