Thursday, February 24, 2011

The Grass Isn't As Green As I Remember

After 20 long hours of travel, we made it to the United States for our much anticipated home leave. Tired and bedraggled, we entered the airport. We had survived and we were finally in the home stretch! Detroit in February couldn't even squelch the excitement I felt about being in the US. With only a few more obstacles between where we were, and a nice hot shower; we made our way to the immigration line.

The line was long and it appeared to stretch on endlessly. I naturally looked for the "family" line; or the VIP line as it's known here in China; but I was reminded rather quickly that we do not have special lines for the disabled, infirmed, or families. Just to make sure though, I decided to take my chances and ask the not-so- friendly looking immigration officer if there was such a line. I think she growled at me, but I'm not too sure. The only thing that was clearly communicated was a gruff "no"; so we got in line with the hundreds of other tired, zombie- like passengers and prayed our children wouldn't have massive meltdowns while we waited.

Several days into our trip, the fog of jet lag began to lift from my body and brain and I decided it would be okay to operate a motor vehicle. As I went out to one of my favorite stores, I was amazed to find a rather large number of parking spots unusable due to the simple and annoying fact that the person in the spot next to it had parked poorly. 

Hmmm...I thought back to the flight home and the incredibly rude flight attendant who I wanted to put into a head lock and give a noogie to (oh if I could really say what I wanted to do to her...). I was beginning to wonder about the US that I had left and my memory of it. Could it be possible that the friendly and thoughtful United States of America was a little less friendly and thoughtful than I had remembered? Perhaps there had been a major shift in culture since I left four short years ago? I was beginning to sense with some amount of unease that something sinister was afoot. I parked my car, shook off this sense, and began my short walk into the store.

Just as I was about to enter the store, I was pushed aside by a man in a hurry. Certain he was running to buy a card and some flowers for his wife who had been hospitalized, I was dismayed to see him stop in front of the apple juice and look at it quizzically before moving on (rather slowly) to the next item, and the next, and the next.

First, there was the flight attendant from you- know- where, the lack of deference for families traveling with small children, and the growling immigration officer. Now I was faced with rude and thoughtless parkers and physically pushy people. I would expect this in China, but the US?  I was so perplexed by this series of events that I asked my friends about it upon my return. I was certain that in my absence, people in the US had grown less friendly, more hurried, and just plain rude. I was assured however, that there was no significant change and dually assured that these occurrences were not outside the realm of normal every day dealings.

Could it be? Had I fell victim to making the grass greener on the other side? During some phase of culture shock living in China, had I imagined my home country to be more than it really was? The conclusion I was forced to come to was that I had indeed.


Anonymous said...

That is terrible! It sounds like really you just had a string of "mis-fortune"! Of course there are rude peole out there who have nothing better to do than be rude or someone having a bad day and you unfortunately get the end of their bad day. Those are the days that you just never know what is going on in someones life! It really isn't usually that way here. :) I'll be praying those nasty experiences are not what you find on your way back home! Love you! Emily

Alecia @ Hoobing Family Adventures said...

Maybe people are just grumpy because it's February and this winter seems to be dragging on forever. Hope your time in the US is better and you experience more friendly people!