Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Things I love about America

I'm walking back to my car, after having a pretty nice dinner in Clarendon, Virginia. And I remember, I forgot to bring shaving cream with me on my trip.

So I see the Walgreens -- I saw it before, but figured, it'll be open after I eat; and so it is. So I turn into the Walgreens, and the doors open for me. No waiting! So fast. And--as soon as they open, I'm blasted with cool, dry air. Enveloped. Surrounded. Before I even cross the threshold, I'm cool. Cool.

I know what I want. I want one thing. I look around. It's a cornucopia. Everything I can imagine wanting -- if I lived ten other lives -- is here. Makeup; shampoo; family planning; cold medicine; adult diapers; and all the other stuff. I roam the aisles. There are groceries here. Amazing stuff. If the bomb drops, there's a lot of good food, a lot of it fresh, right here. And this is just one "drug store" in one little corner of America.

I can't find it. I admit: I don't love that. But there's a young guy stocking shelves. I ask him for help, and he jumps up and leads me right where I need to go. He know where the "travel sizes" are. So polite. So helpful. "Do you need anything else?" No, man, thanks! Incredibly polite.

So I find my travel-size shaving cream and I head to the counter. I wonder where the worker who just helped me was from. Somewhere in Africa, I guess; I'd like to ask, but is that rude? It doesn't matter, it's just that I'm curious. So many interesting places, maybe he's from there. 

The guy behind the counter: I wonder the same thing. He's not from the same place, probably; but I don't ask. He tells me I got a discount. Great! No, I don 't need a bag, thanks man. I'm on my way. I hate to leave this wonderful coolness. It's really hot outside.

On my way to my car, I think, "I'd like some ice cream!" So I cross the street. There's a grocery store there: it's a Whole Foods. I don't really care; I know they have ice cream. I go in. Again: doors open for me. Again: a blast of wonderful coolness envelops me.

This is a special place. Everything here is organic and biotic and healthy and all that stuff. I don't care. Lots of earnest people who seem to care very deeply about organic-non-glutenous-free-range-no-anti-biotic stuff. I don't care. (Well, I do, a little; but not at the moment.) I find the frozen section. Ice cream! Now!

What? What? They have...Graeters! From Cincinnati! And not just one flavor; I stand there, with the door open, with artic blasts pouring over me, as I contemplate which of the ten or so flavors of Graeters I will buy. I ponder the fact that they have Graeters gelato--did you know Graeters is making gelato? Are they advertising that in Cincinnati, or is that something they are promoting out of town? I don't care; I'm not messing around, I'm getting good, old-fashioned Graeters. I opt for Mint Chocolate Chip; and when I look at the package, and it says something like, "half the sugar..." I turn around and exchange it for another package with no such offending language. This is no time to mess around! 

I'm in line. Every line is full. It's 9 pm, and every conscientious, organic-only shopper in Clarendon is here, buying groceries. This place is expensive! I can't imagine buying all my groceries here. Who can afford this? I pay for my ice cream, and blam! I'm back out in the sultry heat, but I'm clutching my cold, cold ice cream.

Now I'm back at the place where I'm staying. I ate my ice cream before writing this post. Am I crazy? No.

I know what you're thinking. Isn't it the same everywhere? No, it's not. When I was in Europe, I went looking for a drug store. Looking, looking. I needed ordinary things. No, this isn't a drug store. This seems to be -- but no, what are "Tums"? Never heard of them. The pharmacies in Italy -- when they are open -- have few items out for your inspection. You must present yourself to the counter, and ask. Someone will find what you get; and it will cost you! I bought aspirin and some sort of antacid in Europe, after visiting many stores (many were closed! Too bad, you came at the wrong hours!), and it cost me dearly. No cornucopia. You want fruit? That's over there. Bread? There. Meat? Over there. Oh, but they open then, and they closed then, so good luck. Why would anyone do it differently?

In America, of course you want your drink cold. Blam! Ice! And plenty of it. Do you want more? More ice, here. Blam! You want something? We have everything! Right here! And we're open all night. 

In Europe, what do you want? That'll cost you. Ice? Why would you want that? This is how we do it. That's good enough for you! 

I'm not bashing Europe. It's great. I love it. But...some things we do...I love.

There's more ice cream...


John F. Kennedy said...

While Grater's is nice, I've always been an Aglamesis fan.

Have fun and don't get burned on the beach.

I'm off to the Smoky Mountains tomorrow. A little hiking, white water rafting and then backbacking. Offer a prayer for us!

Jennifer said...

I know what you mean, Father. I love Germany, but it is less, well, convenient.

Better in many ways, but it is different...