Merry Christmas, or whatever you celebrate, brokeass readers! I spend every Christmas making one of my semi-annual pilgrimages back to my home country. That being Portland, Oregon. It’s always a bit of a shock coming back west after being in New York for six months. The big differences don’t freak me out; I’m prepared for natural greenspaces and no skyscrapers. It’s the little differences that confuse me the most.
Big Grocery Stores
At first, I think it’s cool that the aisles are actually wide enough to two two full-sized shopping carts. Then by the second aisle in, I start to freak out a bit from all the space, fluorescent lights, and choices. I mean, let’s say you’re looking for chocolate chips. In NYC, the bodega will have Tollhouse, maybe, and they won’t be expired if you’re lucky. The actual grocery stores have Tollhouse, and occasionally Hershey’s and Ghiradeli. But there are no Krasdale and Super A brand chocolate chips. In giant suburban grocery stores, I stand in the baking aisle for ten minutes debating between Christmas shapes, miniatures, white chocolate, chocolate chunk, raspberry flavored…
Driving again is weird enough. As I was leaving my parents’ house, I briefly pictured walking a few blocks and looking for a green subway globe. Then I remembered that I’m in the suburbs of Portland, and the only green things we have on my block are trees. Then when I’m driving around, most places have giant fields of asphault for me to park in. I don’t have to drive around for 15 minutes or worry about parking on the wrong side and getting hit by a street sweeper. The thing that perplexes me about parking lots the most is how freaking lazy they make me. I don’t flinch about walking ten blocks in NYC; I consider a four mile bike ride to be easy. But in suburban shopping complexes, I get totally annoyed by the idea of walking more than 50 feet to get to a store.
Nice Customer Service Employees
As soon as I landed in Portland, I left to go get my hair cut. I knew the salon was closing soon, so I asked the stylist if I was too late. She said, “Weeeelll, we usually stop taking people at 8:30. I think he’s closing down the register, but I’m still cleaning up so maybe we could do it. Maybe Ryan will take another one. We’re kidn of winding down for the night, so maybe if you come back tomorrow we’ll be all fresh…” I wanted to yell “Just tell me yes or no.” If I was in New York, she would’ve said they were closed as soon as I walked in the door.
I get excited when I remember that my parents have a dishwasher, but then I forget to use it and leave a pile of bowls in the sink. I have two friends in NYC who have dishwashers, and I do the same thing at their apartments. I have fridge Tetris skills like no other; I can make a six pack fit into a fridge no mater how crowded. After living without a dishwasher for three plus years, I can’t figure them out. I put the dishes on the wrong racks, without fail, every time.