If America itself were a product sold on the free market, its motto would probably be the trite but true: ‘Bigger* is better.’
It’s only once you leave the states that you realize the rest of the world does not run on 30-packs of diet soda and Hummers. We measure things in tubs and buckets and jugs; the rest of the world uses grams.
The asterisk denotes this: ‘*and familiar.’ We love things that are predictably consistent. We love knowing that our low-fat mocha frap will taste as good in Kentucky as it will in Nantucket. We love knowing that we can have it our way in Sheboygan or Cheyenne. I’m not here to judge Corporate America or soapbox about the reasons that Americans seem to crave branding and cookie-cutter consumerism. That was the old me, the BC me. Quite the opposite today; I’m actually here to praise it. I’m here to embrace it. I’m here to brag about it.
Case and point, I made a list of some things we needed around the house that went something like this: Light bulbs, Diaper Genie refills, racquetballs, thank-you cards and mustard. And I’m stuffing up the diaper bag like we’re going trekking in Nepal in the rainy season, trying to figure out in what order we should tackle the hardware store, baby store, sporting good store, grocery and pharmacy, thinking about car seat removal, wondering if they’ll have shopping carts. And then it hit me, like a red, white and blue brick—Target.
Needless to say, I didn’t even open the diaper bag. We would have been out the door and home again in under an hour, except I kept finding new stuff to buy that wasn’t on the list. And I realized that I am the target Target market—a parent. One-stop shopping implies a bit more these days; it also means one unloading of the car seat, one parking spot, one line to stand in, etc. It is the very definition of convenience.
Then on the way home, I was jonezing for a coffee (which is kind of akin to saying a heifer was craving some grass), but I had Bub. The thought of jockeying for parking somewhere, taking him out of the car, into the shop, risking an outburst and balancing hot liquid near his head were not appealing. Even less appealing was the idea of leaving him in the car and facing public scorn at best, jail time at worst.
And then it hit me, like a SCUD missile—drive thru. I’ve always been more of a sit-down kind of guy, but drive-thrus, another very American thing, are just what the pediatrician ordered. I mean, how brilliant are drive-thrus, when you think about them, seriously? I pulled in, got my coffee, in no way risked scaldation, and Bub and I came home two happy (one caffeinated) campers.
It’s a brave new world out there when viewed through baby-tinted glasses. Familiar convenience is paramount, almost essential. And just like walking around with spit-up on your polo, selling out a little is okay in the name of parenting. Kids make everything okay. God bless America.