Thursday, February 10, 2011

Is Alabama in the U.S.?

Written on Tuesday, July 8, 2008 at 3:00pm

Nat and I are visiting another country this week- it's called Alabama! No really, it feels as if we stepped out of a plane (or time machine) and into Enterprise, AL. Population- who knows? Not a small town, just a weird town. Home to Ft Rucker- the temporary home of Nat's brother, Walter, for another year or so.

So why is AL weird you ask?. It could be due in large part to the vast amount of vacant homes and store fronts that we passed during the two hr in state drive. Never have seen so many places long out of business with their old, faded Coca Cola signs hanging on by the last screw. Why they were ever here is another question. Now, please don't read any of this as a "I-HATE-Alabama" blog. It's not that. It's more of a "why-do-people-live-here-for-logistical-reasons" blog. There is a difference.

There doesn't seem to be any industry except for Walmart and the army base. There's lots of fields and a few car dealerships. Everything looks like it was built in the 70's and hasn't been touched since. The sidewalks are full of cracks with weeds taking up residence knowing full well that they'll be there for a long time. There are two cinemas (two screens each, respectively) that don't have any shows before 7 pm. There are about 10 Mexican restauraunts within a 2 mile radius- Hmmmm.

But the real kicker is that the closest coffee shop is 7 miles away!!!!! What!!! The rest of America changed all that about 15 yrs ago. I've never been or lived in a place that didn't at least have the workin' mans Dunkin' Donuts within 2 miles. This problem didn't even compute this morning- How could there not be a coffee shop close? Is coffee outlawed in the military or are they just so used to really bad coffee that the local gas station is just fine? I don't know.

I rolled out of bed anticipating the local brew to find that I had to drive 20 minutes to even find one but that was after I stopped at the Koffee Kettle. Bad decision- Let me tell you why.

It was already 9:30 am and the dull headache was setting in. As I pulled up to the store front, nothing hinted at the fact that they were a legit coffee shop. No cool logos or signs for an upcoming folk show. No mood lighting or aroma of espresso. Just a plain store front with really old decals stuck to the window and the peeling Visa/Mastercard stickers.

As I walked closer, my greatest fear materialized- this was indeed not a coffee destination but rather a smoky diner . . . .NO!!! "Diner" meanS, BAD . .. REALLY BAD coffee. Desperation made me keep walking. As I opened the door, stale smoke punched me in the nose (nothing like thick, old smoke in your lungs to start the day off.) I took a quick glance around and all the stereotypes were in fact true- there was the old, crusty local, Father Time himself, chatting with the waitress- the guy frying the eggs behind the counter looked like a shower had been put off for weeks, his hair just as greasy the eggs he was cooking. Nothing looked clean. All the tables had yellowed from age. You know the drill-

I knew this was going from bad to worse. But my addiction subdued my instinct and I ordered two coffees from the seemingly intoxicated waitress. She brought them over- the brown liquid was in soda cups- bad sign. She handed me "creamers" but they were coffeemate imposters. I asked for the real stuff and she said, "Sorry honey, this is all I got for ya. That'll be $2.38. You wanna add tip to that?" I wanted to reach over the counter and hold her up as she looked like collapse was only a moment away. A wave of nausea swept over me!

So I stood there mixing in the creamer and sugar knowing full well this was all in vain. Closed my eyes, took a sip, and it shot back out all over the counter . . . no, just kidding but that's what I felt like doing! It was probably the worst coffee I've ever had- no exaggerration!!!

Here I sit- my head aching, eyes unable to focus, and mind incapable of understanding the who, what, when, or hows of this place. This all without any chemical or alcoholic influence.

This my friends is Alabama!!

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