By Jon Cogburn
A dear Canadian friend of mine for five years toiled as an instructor in Alabama, a state for which he retains no fondness and the state in which the ski trip began.
Being an instructor is not fun. You make less than half the money as the tenure track people, teach twice the classes, and have to constantly shuck and jive so that you aren't fired at the whim of your administrative overlords. You get all of the bad stuff thematized by writers of campus novels combined with almost none of the good stuff.
Two facts: (1) Any sufficiently self-reflective person forced to shuck and jive in the manner of employees in late period American capitalism starts to hate themselves, and (2) it's nearly impossible for you to hate yourself alone (though the better sort of Calvinist has just almost perfected it); that is, hatred demands externalization. I'm pretty confident that if my friend had been tenure track then, he wouldn't be so soured on the American South, but would rather have found some like-minded people and put his shoulder to the wheel to help ameliorate the problems unique to those of us who live here. He is now tenured and thriving in Oklahoma and enthusiastically takes part in the cultural fare (music, theater, gaming) that is on offer even in non-coastal areas of the United States. Were he tenured in Alabama, he'd be doing the same thing.
My friend now non-facetiously refers to the American South as "Flee-From Land," to contrast with his facetious use of "Fly-Over Land," which is how non-coastal bumpkins like to think that other people non-facetiously refer to the places in which they live.