(Disclaimer): It wasn't until 1985 when I went to see Harrison Ford & Kelly McGillis in "Witness" that I ever became aware of the Amish. I was 24 years old then…and since that first impression (portrayed by Hollywood), I confess that I have not delved into deep research to fully educate myself on their culture, beliefs and simplistic ways of life. What I do know, is that the vast concentration of them remains in the states of Ohio, Pennsylvania and Indiana…(and according to Wikipedia there are 281,675 in all of America). With 317 million people in the U.S., that means the Amish represent only .008 of 1%. If those numbers are anywhere close to accurate, then it begs the question; "what in the name of Jebediah is going on folks"?
As I was driving back from a really nice walk in the park this morning, I spot these establishments touting; Fresh Amish Produce, Amish Pies and Fudge, Amish Furniture. I'm in MT. JULIET, TN…how can this be? Three places of business within an Amish slingshot of one another.
Can Jenkins Nursery and Landscaping really be carrying fresh Amish Produce? Jenkins doesn't seem like an Amish name to me. Anderson's Amish Furniture?…located by the AmAsian Restaurant (that's coming soon). Does it not raise a suspicion that something seems Amissh?
Either the Amish are the most gifted, brilliant, efficient, productive people in the history of mankind, or there is a fly in the butter-log somewhere. How could this few of a people churn out the volume of "Amish goods" that I see EVERYWHERE these days. Jams, cookies, fudge, furniture, electric furnaces (what???), grass-fed beef, pickles, buggy's, baskets, bonnets, quilts,…you name it! Got some old mason jars you want to sell? Fill them up with some tap water, slap a horse & buggy label on the front, mark it up 40% and call it Amish Springs. No explanation necessary…people will buy it because it says Amish.
We as a society are gullible, falling for mis-leading marketing terms like free-range chicken or anything organic. No one is regulating this stuff…and there ain't no Amish Commissioner authenticating that Ezekiel really whittled that wagon-wheel you're about to purchase. But who am I to rob you of your consumeristic joy and mis-guided belief that what is promoted is "real"?
I just make crusty, instinctive observations…and write them down in this blog so that I can release them from my screwed-up mind…and then clippity-clop through life until the next thing gets my rant on. HEY, somebody pass me that Amish balm…I've got a hitch in my get-along.
"Things are not as bad as they seem....they are worse!".....Bill Press
So "wife" and I had just wrapped up a wonderful 4th of July weekend get-away with some close friends at the lake and are headed home. We have to make an emergency stop for gas - and a Mapco convenience store is our first option. I normally don't purchase my fuel from Mapco, but the gauge is in the red, so I have no other option.
I go inside to prepay cash for Pump #4 - have the $60 in my hand. But standing before me at the counter is the subject of my rant today…I'll refer to her as "Fanny Mae" - seemed to fit.
Fanny Mae stood about 5' 3" - weighed approximately 190 lbs - had on caprice pants (which in my opinion, look good on no-one…much less on short, stubby legs) - and a Pabst Blue Ribbon t-shirt with the sleeves tucked up under her bra straps so that her pits could breathe I guess. It was quite the visual - along with her companion (whom I'll call Billy Bob), who was similarly attired. However, it wasn't the visual assault on my senses that I found so offensive…it was her scratching!!! LOTTO TICKETS!
Here I am waiting patiently in line - ready to say & pay in 2 seconds; "$60 on pump #4 please" while Fanny Mae's purchasing and scratching Lotto tickets at the counter. Besides the Lotto tickets, she has 2 Mountain Dews, 3 lollipops and a carton of Marlboro's. The clerk runs the debit card….Fanny Mae scratches the Lotto tickets…then turns to Billy Bob with a disappointed look on her nose-pierced face. She didn't win….."awhhhh shucks Fanny, now get out of my way!"
But instead of Fanny tucking her extra wide namesake and walking away, she proceeds to buy 3 more Lotto tickets. The clerk runs another transaction of her debit card….gives Fanny the receipt and tickets, …and she stands there at the counter and proceeds to scratch the tickets off again with more intensity and desperation for a convenience store windfall. Meanwhile, Billy Bob is turning periodically to catch a glimpse of my curmudgeony face beginning to twitch…along with 3 other people who have now gotten in line behind me.
Still no winner for Fanny Mae! But just like at a Shoney's breakfast buffet…she hunkers down for the bacon! She buys 3 more Lotto Tickets - the clerk runs a 3rd transaction…another snide glance from Billy Bob…and I'm about to go postal inside of a small-town Mapco on a quiet, Mayberry-esque Sunday afternoon. This after one of the most enjoyable and relaxing weekends I've had in a long time.
There are now a total of 7 people in line, holding various looks of disgust and sodium-packed snacks.
At my emotional breaking point, I hear a timely, inner voice instructing me to suppress lashing out like a crazy man at Fanny Mae by reflecting on an otherwise perfect weekend.
Somehow, I'm able to pause and visualize my beautiful wife of 30 years soaking up the sun and fellowship over the past 2 days, the engaging conversation with life-long friends, the moonlight dancing off the surface of the water on a late-night boat ride. Children laughing and singing, families enjoying each other's company. Peaceful, romantic…renewing!
Even Fanny Mae scratching away can't ruin my mood. Matter of fact…I hope she wins the Lotto one day. I know that I already have!!!
"Things are not as bad as they seem….they are worse"….Bill Press
Bring Back "Men" and "Women"
I had lunch at a popular local restaurant the other day with a friend and business associate. Throughout our meal and engaging conversation, I consumed 3-4 big glasses of water. (This was in obedience to a Chinese acupuncturist whom I visited recently, who diagnosed me by having me stick out my tongue and scream in her Asian accent; "Ooooh…yo tongue is greasy!!! You need to eat veg-i-ta-bul and drink rots of water to balance CHI". "That will be Ninety-dollar pweeze…we not take American Express!" ). But that's another story….
Needless to say, by the end of our meal, all of that CHI-balancing water had commanded my attention. Politely, I excuse myself from the table and proceed with a purpose to the back of the restaurant where I'm stopped cold in my tracks…momentarily confused by what I saw.
Now I'm a logical man, fairly intelligent, observant…etc, and I enjoy clever graphical signs that bring humor to our otherwise mundane lives, but this is NOT the time or place to force someone to process any type of cute message or conclusion other than "MEN" or "WOMEN".
You need to understand something Mr. Proprietor (which I guarantee you will once you reach the age of >50)! When the urge to go has reached urgent status, there is nothing else the human brain can contemplate. Time is of the essence and believe me, seconds DO matter.
So do us older patrons a favor, bring back "MEN" and "WOMEN". I bet you won't get a single complaint…but you will avoid the potential risk of an emergency "watering" of your hallway ficus.
"Things are not as bad as they seem....they are worse!".....Bill Press