The first person I tend to meet on my daily walk to school is a gnome. I'll let that sink in for you a little.
Now that you already think I'm crazy, I'll continue.
Yes, he's a gnome. No, he isn't shorter than a kindergartner, although even I have a head and a half on him, he doesn't obsess with steampunk technology, and he doesn't run around the forest fighting trolls and saving animals. He doesn't ever wear hats, pointed, or otherwise, and he has a blonde crew cut, you never read stories about gnomes with crew cuts. Or gnomes that are ex-marines.
His name really is David though, and he does have a beard that's mostly gray. I suppose some stories have to get something right eventually, but I prefer to think it's a coincidence. He says nobody knows much about gnomes, so the stories just throw everything at the wall to see what sticks.
David runs a small newsstand in a town not large enough to support such an outdated idea. Somehow he stays in business well enough, and I like to stop by each morning, get the local paper and talk for a minute. Not too long, because this is still before I've had my coffee. Still, I sometimes think I learn more in those few minutes every morning than in all the classes later in the day.
Paper in hand, I move on to my next goal. I might run into any number of people between David's stand and my coffee shop of choice, but the next person I'm likely to run into is the owner of my preferred local coffee shop. He's a recent immigrant from Greece and his English isn't so great, but he's still more understandable than the vapid idiots down the street at Starbucks.
The coffee is decent, but I honestly keep going back for the pastries. He makes about fifty kinds of doughnuts, cakes, and things I can't even pronounce, and they're all incredible. He's a satyr, and he actually does have goat legs and hooves. Bit startling the first summer I came in and saw him in shorts, but he's a decent enough guy. If he seems to spend a lot of time staring at the girls passing by or in his shop, it's not like I'm in any position to judge him.
Some days, as I drink my latte, eat a heavenly baked good, and read the paper, a local cop will show up. Cops and doughnuts, long live the stereotype. He doesn't come every day, but probably more often than not, he'll be here. Even in a town this big, everybody knows him and he knows everybody. I thought maybe he and the barista were related, what with both of them having hairy legs and hooves, and I ended up getting a lecture regarding the differences between fauns and satyrs. Actually very entertaining, as they spent most of it sniping at each other.
When I finally make my way to the university campus and the throng of students making their way to classes, I can spot faeries, djinni, dwarves, and the odd werewolf or two. Maybe a vampire here or there, but they mainly do later in the morning classes. Yeah, vampires that walk in the day and sleep all night, never would have guessed that one myself.
I do have to guess most of it, the bits that gnomes and satyrs and vampires don't tell me, and they don't say much. I don't think there's a hard and fast rule, no great conspiracy to hide the mythical world from the mundane. They don't need one, normal people don't want to know about them, and can never see anything unusual about them. I'm the only one who can see them. Me and my father before me and his father and so on and so forth. To anyone else, they're ordinary people. And I guess they are ordinary people, but I look at them, and see beings of myth and legend walking among us.
We've established that you already think me a madman, so I don't mind saying this. I'm happy to see them, every day. I'm happy knowing there's more to this Earth than the people around me believe. Even when nobody else knows about it.