Monday, June 28, 2010

Invisible Lines

by Madeleine Kando

Living in the suburbs of America can be a blessing and a curse. There is such a wide range that it is hard to say anything sensible about them, other than my subjective feeling that suburban communities, like much else in America, are intersected by ‘invisible lines’.

Take my own town for example. It is a paradox. Here, you find a ‘Whole Foods’ supermarket next to a row of fast-food franchises, a liquor store abutting a church and a Starbucks facing a MacDonald.

This must be typical of ‘drive-through’ towns. Towns that are on the way to more affluent suburban communities.

The fast-food franchises, the Whole Foods Supermarket, they are all places where you can pick up dinner on your way home to those other fancy towns. Those are the nanny towns of America, where ambitious housewives with money and time to spare sit on local committees and become selectmen who sensibly vote against franchises in their own community.

I pass these fast food places every morning, on my way to work. I know every detail of their façade, how many times they have been given a facelift. As I sit in my car, waiting for a Macdonald junky to make his turn into the drive-through, I realize that I am passing an entire block of stores where I have never been. You will think of me as a snob, but I am not really. I am just a creature of habit. McDonald, Papa Gino, Dunkin Donut.. they are not part of my routine.

There must be a person in the car behind me, cursing at ME while I turn into the Whole Foods parking lot. They wouldn’t be caught dead entering one of those uppity, overpriced stores.

It is as if there were invisible lines, right there on the pavement, which some people never cross. Like one of those invisible electric fences to keep dogs away from the road.

Even inside my local supermarket I find those invisible lines. As a creature of habit I haven’t stepped into the soft drinks isle for years. (Now I am really starting to sound like a snob).

Come to think of it, there are invisible lines right in my own house. I haven’t visited the laundry room for a long time, not because I always wear dirty clothes, but because my husband insists on doing the laundry.

We could make use of those invisible lines. My town could create a bylaw that requires all franchises to build an invisible fence. Then, have everyone wear an electric collar that gets activated as soon as you exceed a certain body weight. You try to get into the MacDonald parking lot and you are overweight? You get zapped! leave comment here