The Ugly American

May 24, 2013 – The “values” of our “leaders” are predictably trickling down to the masses.

By The Cerebral Aesthetic Vagabond

A couple of days ago I went to the grocery store to pick up some perishable goods, something I try to do but once every week or two in order to conserve fuel. While paying for my groceries (in cash instead of the typical plastic) there was another shopper behind me, waiting her turn and casually gazing over the items in my shopping cart. All of a sudden she stiffened, crinkled up her nose and exclaimed, “Eww, mushrooms!”

The guy running my groceries through the scanner asked her, “What’s wrong with mushrooms?”

She replied with disgust, “They’re nasty!” Now suspicious, she gave my shopping cart a more thorough inspection before observing with distaste, “You got a whole lot a vegetables in there.” Before anyone could reply, she delivered her summation, stating something like, “I figure if we’re gonna go, we might as well do it with grease,” expressing her intention to live for the moment, consequences be damned, and implying that nobody could possibly like vegetables.

Finally having a chance to reply, I said that I like grease too, but I also like vegetables, emphasizing my statement by telling her that my dinner the night before consisted of a large salad (with a homemade dressing). Having said that, I glanced at her shopping cart and it was utterly typical: laden with colorful boxes and bottles of “food” and beverages; not a fresh food item to be seen; a toxic stew of artificial colors, preservatives, hydrogenated vegetable oils, HFCS, MSG and artificial sweeteners (need I even mention that the woman was fat?). Having been in line behind such shopping carts many times and hearing the total bills announced by the checker, I would guess that her bill was between $150 and $200, whereas my purchase, which was comprised of fresh fruits and vegetables (some organic), organic eggs, a nicely marbled chuck roast which I would grind myself into hamburger and serve on homemade buns, real cheese, real butter, organic whole milk and a couple of boxes of low-sugar, HFCS-free breakfast cereal, amounted to $74 and probably contained more nutrition than hers.

I’ve never had anyone judge my shopping cart before; most people are too timid to even engage in conversation, let alone outspokenly judge another. I hope the woman’s attitude is unique, but I fear it is not. Like I said, many of the people shopping in that store buy the same items as that woman, although they have the poise to refrain from expressing pride in doing so.

I fear the woman’s attitude is typical of the modern American, quick to judge others while overlooking their own faults. After all, such an attitude is merely a reflection of our country’s foreign policy, where America seeks to correct the “faults” in other nations while ignoring the plethora of faults in its own.

I expect that this woman, if she is not already doing so, will end up taking numerous pharmaceutical drugs to treat the consequences of her dietary choices, and she will undoubtedly expect someone else to pay for them! In contrast to the pharmacological dystopia that a large percentage of Americans reside in, I have no health problems whatsoever and don’t have so much as a single aspirin in the house.

The encounter made me chuckle a little inside because although we live in a culture that values youth and beauty and obsesses about age, people won’t make the slightest effort to live a lifestyle consistent with those purported values. Judging from the fact that the woman had a young boy and an infant girl, I’m probably two decades older than her but I look about her age, a claim underscored by a man perhaps ten years older than me who graciously said, “Go ahead, young man,” as we simultaneously approached the entrance to the store a half-hour earlier. The sad thing is that this woman will be passing her values down to her children, whose education she will expect others to subsidize, an attitude I, being childless by choice, rather resent.

Although I didn’t see her vehicle, it was probably a huge pickup truck or SUV that gets 15 MPG, compared to my car’s 35 MPG. Assuming she is unlike the majority of Americans, for whom a hulking, gas-guzzling vehicle is seen as a birthright, she would probably justify her need for such a vehicle on account of her large family, as if that were something outside her control.

My seemingly unimportant experience in the grocery store highlights the upside down nature of our culture today, in which savings are bad but debt is good, knowledge and learning are derided but willful ignorance is patriotic, poor choices are prized but prudent ones are demeaned, civility is scorned but “zero tolerance” is admired. I’ve long felt that the nation’s leadership has been thoroughly taken over by psychopathic criminals, so I guess it ought not surprise me that the consequences of that coup have yielded a world in which everything feels upside down.

The End