I'm a little slow today. I just switched to Sanka. So...have a heart?

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

What do you mean, Yes, you have no bananas?

In less than a week, I'll be home; the winding, tree-lined streets of Columbia, Maryland, to my parents' seemingly enormous house, on a seemingly sizeable chunk of property. Columbia, where 95 is lined with forest; Columbia, where the streets are named "Bright passage" and "Grey Star Way," and Columbia where every place has the product you need.

Having lived in Miami for seven years now, I'm accustomed to the ebb and flow of the days (the traffic, actually) and the weather (the varying degrees of humidity) and the language ("Buenas - Can I get half a pound of ese turkey pastrami, oh, y hay rye bread? Si, one of those too please - can you slice it?") and the fact that thirty percent of the time, the thing you went to a place to buy, is out of stock... or the store you've trekked across hell and creation to get to... is closed - at 6 p.m. on a Friday.

I find that shopping for things (aspirin... WD-40... eggs...) is sort of like a dice-roll, and I always feel like I WIN, when I walk out of a store with exactly what I needed.

Even BETTER is when a store is out of something one time, when I needed it, and they have it the next time I'm there. When this happens, I invariably buy the item, even though I don't need it, because the "naches" (Yiddish: Pronounced: Na-chh-is. Definition: Joy, gratification) of seeing the product there, that wasn't there the last time, makes me have a variation of following monologue in my head, "Ground Beef at CostCo? Don't mind if I do! Never know the next time they'll be carrying ground beef here; Better stock up!"

Once I went to CostCo [for ground beef, actually - I was making "chili for a crowd"] and they didn't... uh... have any ground beef.

It was WEIRD...

And I had to make "chili for a crowd" using ground turkey... but I wasn't bummed, because I was like, "Oh well. No beef here (sidenote: at a GROCERY STORE) today. No biggie. There's ground turkey, and I can use that for chili... I really don't feel like having to go to Publix as well tonight... and at least they have SOMETHING!"

And it was at that moment when I reached some sort of Zen-like oneness and clarity with this City... right there in the Meat Section of the CostCo on 87th Avenue... and attained the realization that I had stopped fighting Miami and was just...going with it.

Back home, people don't "Go with it," presumably because they don't have to... there is no way that Safeway won't have any fresh rosemary (Riiiidiculous!) and no chance that RiteAid won't have hydrogen peroxide (Preposterous!). The Giant, being out of BANANAS, would be unthinkable.

But in Miami, it is TOTALLY possible that Tire Kingdom won't have any tires that day... or that the McFlurry Machine at McDonalds is broken. My response has developed into, "Can you help me find the __________? It should be right here, huh? Is there any in the back? No? Okay, so you don't have it? Oh well... thanks," and as I have this exchange, I'm brainstorming where else I can get that item...

When I lived in Spain, at first I marveled at how difficult it was to get the simplest tasks done, and after a while, I felt very productive when I had gotten some pictures developed, bought a pack of cigarettes, and popped by the MoviStar store to charge my phone minutes... all in one day! The Americans who adapted well to studying abroad were the ones who just... went with it. "Oh, the Travel agency is closed on Wednesdays - I'll come back tomorrow!" Those who didn't were constantly pissed off, and not really fun to hang out with.

Gradually, I feel like that's what happens to you when you come from...well, anywhere else in the country, to Miami. You either reach that Zen one-ness with the fact that even the simplest task can become a struggle here, or... you move. (See: most of my friends from law school.)

I'm not really sure how to end this post, because I guess the message of this post is to just "give up the fight," because otherwise you'll go nuts, but candidly, when I encounter people who have moved down here and are banging their heads against the wall because of our fair city's "idiosyncrasies" my advice to them is, "Give in, and accept it... and it'll make your time here a lot more pleasant."

It makes me feel like a battle-scarred warrior, dispensing sage advice to the new troops...


Anonymous Anonymous said...

While I mostly agree with you since the nearest grocery store to me is a Winn Dixie that somehow magically is always out of the one emergency item I need (horseradish!!!) in fairness Costco is not a regular grocery store. They stock whatever they feel is cost effective for the moment and they move stuff around so you are forced to see stuff you never knew you wanted and are forced to buy because it is so cool and a bargain! That is their business plan. You never know what they will have or where it is placed but by golly they always have good stuff even if it is not what you came to buy.

5:19 AM

Blogger SuperBee said...

No, no, I know that for most things, I don't go to CostCo expecting them to have it all the time, but I think ground beef may be the exception...

5:34 AM

Blogger Jessica said...

I agree that at times there are some grocery stores that are out of stock, but stores closed at 6 p.m.? I suppose on a Sunday but for the rest of the days everything is either open late or 24 hrs. I would think that a town like Maryland wouldn't offer a lot of places open 24 hrs like some are here.

8:54 AM

Anonymous Adrienne said...

um, you're forgetting that in Columbia, unlike Miami & Los Angeles, they do not sell beer, wine & liquor at grocery stores. THAT I find preposterous!

FYI - you should check out the new Japanese steakhouse in Hickory Ridge when you're home. It's delish & cheap.

Miss you!

12:11 PM

Blogger SuperBee said...

Jessica - there a block of stores near my house that is bookended by stores that are open Monday-Friday, 9 - 5:30... one of them is a gun shop, and I've always wanted to go in, but they're never open... the other is a key store that I've needed stuff at, and haven't been able to get into... I think your generalized "everything is open" may be a little overbroad... And Maryland is a state, not a town. :)

Adrie - I sort of like our blue laws... it makes me feel wholesome. Aren't liquor stores closed on Sundays, as well? Or they can't sell booze before noon on a Sunday?

And when I go home, I'm going to Ricciuti's... in Hickory Ridge (I'll never call it Luna Bella...) I am fiending for one of their calzones... and to be fussed over by the new owners. I'll take your Japanese Steakhouse suggestion under advisement... I'll also visit A&B to ride in the elevator. : )

12:30 PM

Blogger Pinc said...

Add to the list that stores here don't have set opening and closing hours ... like the shoe store in Bird Road Art District (that I have driven to more than once during their posted "open" hours, only to find it shuttered despite the e-mail telling me about a sale that very day). Or the new cupcake place across the street from my office that was inexplicably open at 6:15 p.m. last Thursday but was closed this Tuesday at 3 p.m. Or the consignment store off Lincoln that posted a "back in 5 minutes" sign for more than a half hour. Unlike you, I still find this horribly frustrating. Maybe I need to move. ; )

10:05 AM

Blogger Colin said...

This is a great post, J. I find that, when Walgreen's is out of something I need, and I think to myself, "oh, I'll just head down the block to CVS," that they don't have it there either. Now it all makes sense...

I also find that grocery stores are often out of mint, which is inconvenient, of course, but also prompts me to say, "awesome, everyone's making mojitos tonight!"

Your "go with it" philosophy is especially important for airplane travelers. It's hilarious to still see people fuming in line at the inefficiency and redundancy of the security checks. It's hilarious. I have to take my GD shoes off? It's been 8 years of the stuff. Time to get used to it!

9:30 AM

Blogger SuperBee said...

Danya: Don't GOOOOO! : ) Just think, "What would He (meaning me) do in this situation?" and apply that! But yeah. That's super frustrating... Like, majorly.

Colin: I think the first place I implemented "go with it" was in the airport... when I used to fly back and forth between Madison and home, around sophomore year, I learned that I could get mad, or I could stay calm, and either way, there was nothing I could do about anything... Now, a trip to the airport is just an exercise in resignation, "I have to strip at the x-ray machine. Oh well... here goes the belt..."

I like your Mint example, though... and your take on it: "Partytime!"

11:56 AM


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