Just Coffee, Please

A few hours ago, I was out with my mom and we stopped at a coffee shop. It took me a full five minutes to decide what I wanted from the myriad of choices available. I've gotten kind of used to it now that I've been home for almost five months, but when I first got home, it was overwhelming. I found myself getting annoyed with the range of possibilities even. About two weeks into my furlough, I ordered Buffalo wings at a restaurant and I was asked how I wanted them: sweet/sour, tangy, BBQ, honey BBQ, and something else I forget. I just stared dumbly at the waitress and said, "Buffalo style." I thought that was self-explanatory the first time I said it. Then she asked, "With blue cheese or ranch dressing?"

"Don't Buffalo wings by definition come with blue cheese dressing and celery?" (I've actually eaten them in Buffalo, NY and that's how they came!)

"Well, people like different things," she replied.

I'll say. I've had the same problem ordering other things at restaurants because, apparently, in America, we're not satisfied with the ordinary dish or beverage. It has to change according to the seasons--"Try our new Gingerbread milkshake!" or "Now served with Pumpkin Spice cream cheese!" It changes according to economic marketing that guarantees more money on "new and improved" products every few months. It changes according to some undefineable coolness factor that determines somehow that Target is "more hip" than Walmart.

It staggers me sometimes to see not only the sheer waste of our American consumerism, but the amount of choice that we feel we deserve. There must be seventy kinds of cereal in the cereal aisle and thirty kinds of toothpaste. Buying toiletries should not require 18 decisions: do I want more body, more shine, no tangles, clean rinsing, volumizing, color enhancing, root protecting, split-end reducing, anti-dandruff, allergen free, or no tears shampoo?

All missionaries have their moments of meltdown in grocery stores and restaurants and department stores. Once one has seen the poverty of many parts of the world, one cannot help but feel convicted at the amount of consumerism in our country.

Don't get me wrong; I'm proud of my country and I'm blessed beyond measure to have my needs met so easily. I just can't help wondering: Should my every whim be met as well?
Ariel Rainey