Before I start my list, I should say it’s funny that I’m posting this today, Walmart’s fiftieth anniversary. As I state below, I had problems with the chain in principle in my time in America and continue to have issues. I don’t like big box stores and watched my smaller town lose local store and after store when Super Walmart appeared. It devastated our downtown, which has tried time and again to revitalize. Their current success is arguable at best. From what I know about Walmart employee practices, there are also things I don’t like. However, I have to be honest with you, I do miss the convenience of it all.
Now for the list,
The 10 things that I currently miss about America:
1. Redbox – Ah to pay a buck and tax to watch a newer movie for one night.
2. Streaming Netflix– I’ve heard that they have it here but we can’t seem to get an internet connection fast enough to even make it through a YouTube music video without loading pauses.
3. A faster Internet connection– Oh dearest unlimited broadband, how I took you for granted. I’ve heard they have you or at least faster connections in parts of Brazil but you haven’t been available to me yet.
4. Free refills– This seems small, perhaps, but is really a noticeable drawback when you no longer have it. If you’re a thirsty, salt and pimenta lover like myself, your drink tab can easily run higher than your food bill. I’m just talking sodas, juices and water. Your beer and alcohol tab will always most likely be double to triple the amount of whatever you spent on food.
5. Free water– Here, in a restaurant, water only comes in a bottle, sem or com gas ( without or with carbonation). No water in a glass from the tap, which trust me you don’t want anyway.
6. The pleasure of driving– Whether it be aimlessly or to Walmart in the middle of the night for snacks and stuff I didn’t really need. I don’t drive here because quite frankly I’m afraid. This could be due to the fact that even though I learned to drive on a stick shift (automatics are available here but they’re much more expensive and not nearly as popular), it’s been quite awhile since I’ve driven a manual. I might also be afraid to drive because here it appears like absolute craziness to me! It seems like a chaotic dance. It’s very close and oddly both aggressive and passive, with rhythms changing constantly. I have yet to identify and understand these odd dance steps. Until I do, I’ll be a passenger.
7. The option to mindlessly buy things I didn’t really need– America, I can see now from a distance, is truly a land of stuff. Stuff, stuff and more stuff. Inventors of stuff to organize your stuff. Repackaged, repurposed, redesigned, multiple colored, patterned, used (but new to you and still useable),striped, candy coated, now fortified with other stuff stuff.
I thought I was never a true fan of consumerism for consumerism’s sake. I thought I did pretty well not buying things I didn’t really need. I was wrong! As much as I complained about Walmart and big box stores at home, I do find myself missing them. I miss the convenience. If I decide I need socks, corn chips, frebreeze, duck tape, a birthday card, toilet paper and a movie at three o’clock in the morning here, I’m pretty much out of luck.
They do have Walmarts. There’s one in Barra but it’s not the same, not really.
8. A decent hotdog– I have grown to like the hotdog toppings. At first some of them seemed strange to me. The little strips of potato chips are something I feel now that no hotdog is right without. The hotdog itself, however, is just not the same. I miss all beef franks or kosher franks or organic grass-fed hotdogs. There is a difference in the thickness and the constancy throughout. It’s something America has really perfected over time. I know hotdogs are bad for me…but oh how I long at times to be bad.
9. Seeing new American shows when they air or at least no more than a week or so later -I originally wrote this list after having watched an SNL episode that aired in America (live) in February. There are, however, several exceptions to this complaint and that list, in all fairness, seems to be growing. We are getting True Blood at the same time. Bill Maher’s Real Time plays live. They sped up the end of the American Idol season that had been running weeks behind so that viewers here saw the finale at the same time. The Super Bowl and Oscars were live. I am lucky to be able to see them at all and am truly grateful for my little bits of home on TV, however, in this age of Facebook and Twitter, the spoilers are killing me at times.
10. Being able to hop in the car and travel 30 minutes or so to see my family– It could for dinner, a trip to the movies or just to spend time together. Now, even talking about that is a major planning.
Joni Mitchell famously sang“Don’t it always seem to go, that you don’t know what you got ’til it’s gone?”
My answer is a resounding, Yes!
If you’re reading this in America, go get a drink and refill it seven times. Go buy some cheap hot dogs at Walmart and then get a movie from Redbox (or a Blockbluster box) on your way out. Finally, if you’re in a place where you can do it, drive around a bit and take the long way home or go see a family member who lives in the next town over or 40 miles down the road. I promise it’s not as far as it seems.