That’s my ZIP.
It’s the most diverse ZIP in the United States.
The grocery I go to, and have gone to, for the entire twenty some years that I have lived in 98118 is a Safeway.
It was, the first day I ever went there, and is still today, a joyous place to go buy a cucumber, salmon steak or package of Canadian bacon – or anything else – like flour or corn tortillas, brown rice, white rice, sour cream, Pomi tomatoes, cumin ground, cumin seeds, curry powder, chitterlings, lard, collard greens, cabbage, broccoli, shallots, garlic, mushrooms or whatever – that a normal American might need to buy for the larder.
It was on that first day a new experience of a sort (although I have lived in Japan, Vietnam and France for extended periods, so languages I either don’t speak or which I am not fluent in was not the “new” part of this new experience) happened to me: my brain was flooded with multiple languages coming from the mass of my fellow shoppers.
“This is great” I said to myself.
And I still do.
Because it has only gotten better in the twenty some years.
There probably are even more languages than twenty years ago, although I’m not linguist enough to be sure.
But what I am sure of is that these are my fellow citizens, or they should be if we didn’t have “prejudices” masquerading as “laws”.
What I am sure of is that they love their kids – I see their kids a lot, because they bring them to Safeway to shop with them.
What I am sure of is that I am proud to be a citizen of a country that has been the sort of world-wide magnet for the ambitious, the talented, the gutsy (a lot of them risked their lives to get here), the “I want to be free and America is the last best hope for freedom place on earth” sort of people.
In spite of those certainties the downer is that I have to keep being brought back to reality after I leave my Safeway.
I come home to NPR or PBS.
I don’t watch or listen to the corporate news interpreters.
And when I get home I keep coming back to the disheartening reality that there is a hate-ridden, ignorant, probably flatulent, obese, orange hulk of an excuse for a leader of the United States of America in the White House shrieking about how we need to have vast numbers more of coal miners and vast numbers less of those that I consider as my fellow citizens when I go to my 98118 Safeway.
If that orange hulk is really America, our days are numbered, because the future is 98118.
Anyone who tries to jimmie that fact is pulling the stones out from under the foundation of the United States of America.
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