It is an open-ended conversation starter, a welcoming gesture in case you were intimidated by the shuttered gloom of the place, of entering an adolescent cave. It is a more casual version of “Is there something I can help you find?” (Bath & Body Works—um, yes, have you got any Halloween-themed hand sanitizers? That’s what I’m handing out this year!) Or the creepy stranger/friend tactics of Gap a few years ago: “Great scarf!”
“What do you say to that? Jeez,” my husband says, “you really are a curmudgeon.”
I am and I am not. So rather than continue my rant about the mall and the strategic greeting tactics of its young employees or the fact that stores have created 13 seasons to separate us from our money and bring more stuff into our houses, I am going to write my list of things I like about living here, aside from my work and friends.
1) Fresh okra. An Egyptian/Middle Eastern specialty in London, it is readily available here. We love okra more than corn.
2) The Apple Man at the farmer’s market. He says things like: “A lady bought a whole bushel of these for apple sauce and said, but I hate to waste the peel. Well, I told her, you just boil these up and [I forget the rest] you can make apple jelly. When you grow up on an apple farm, you don’t let any of it go to waste.” And for $4 you can eat winesaps all week.
3) When I heard a song I liked on the radio, the next day I wrote the station and they forwarded my question to the host, who wrote me back that evening. This was the song:
4) When the wheel fell of our garbage bin I called the city. The next day a truck stopped in front our house, a man jumped out, popped on a new wheel and rode off. I waved wildly at him yelling thanks. Stunning municipal efficiency.
5) Abundant BBQ. When we lived abroad and only vacationed in Alabama (seriously) we would bring barbecue back to London. I hardly eat it now, but I know it’s only minutes away and that gives me a sense of security and wellbeing.
6) And if I need a digestive biscuit, they sell McVitties at Publix.
7) Our public library is really good.
8 ) If I went out at night I could go hear bands play at a converted mill for about $10. I could bring the dog and there would be free parking.
9) Our airport is easy to use, parking is $8 a day.
10) Two public radio stations.
11) Creek walks
12) A local cheesemaker whose wares can be purchased at Kroger and Costco.
13) Going to the pool after work, from air conditioning to three minutes of hot car to warm concrete, bug noise and the day winding down.
14) a very good used clothing store. I had a similar run of luck with finding good stuff at the St. John’s & St. Elizabeth’s hospice shop in London and thought I might have just been connecting with one person’s wardrobe, so my luck might be that this has happened again which is both sad/morbid or they were just tired of it/fortuitous.
15) Dog Park
16) Driving by fields of cows on the way to Target.
There, that was more than 10 things.
The next time the youth at the door welcomes me to Abercrombie, I’ll just be like, hey, back. We are, after all, happy to be here. But let me shop in peace, okay. And, no, you can’t have my phone number.