Weird Things I’ve Noticed About Northwest Indiana

18 Jul

Door 1, Door 2, Door 3, Door 4. Are these people too stupid or illiterate to enter through the correct door without these ridiculous game show numbers? In businesses that have multiple entrances, the doors are decorated with large black placards that simply have a number on them, such as 1, or 2, or 3, or 4. Wow. I noticed this bizarre practice at both Morgan Township School (the shitschool where I endured Verbal Abuse as an Extreme Sport from elementary through high school) and at the clinic where I am currently waiting in the lobby while my dad has his first rehab appointment. In places outside this bizarre alternate reality, the name of the office or location is on a placard by the entrance.


Apparently Northwest Indiana, or at least Valparaiso, is crawling with completely batshit morning people who think the sun sets at about 2 pm. My dad talks as though Best Buy is abnormal because it opens at 10 am. Um, I have a lot of retail experience, and I assured him that ten is the normal, standard time for retail shops to open. (Actually, Portland has shops that open at 11 on weekdays.)

“Not around here,” my dad said. “Most shops open by 8 am.”

My dad’s favorite restaurants are white American Muggle restaurants that open at five or six in the morning. What alternate reality did I enter when I showed up here? Is this place under some sort of twisted enchantment? In Portland, I’m accustomed to brunch: it’s customary for restaurants to open at ten on Sunday for Sunday brunch and to serve breakfast food till, say, two in the afternoon. People who were out late partying and/or attending plays or concerts or hanging out in bars might wake up around noon and go off to Blossoming Lotus for a wonderful brunch. I have never noticed any restaurants in Portland opening at five or six in the morning, which seems utterly ridiculous and nonsensical, to say the least. I don’t understand why my dad behaves as though the sun sets at two pm and you have to rush, rush, to get your errands done and get home before that hour. Oh, yes—his life also revolves around seeing the five o’clock news, and he acts as though he’ll die a horrible death if he doesn’t get to the five o’clock news.

“Why would anyone working in retail want to be at their humiliating job at eight in the morning?” I said.

Really, being talked down to and bullied by customers, managers, and coworkers is traumatic and dehumanizing enough without it starting at eight in the morning.

“It’s about the customers, not the people who own the store.”

“I’m not talking about the people who ‘own’ the store. I’m talking about the people who would be expected to be at their crap humiliating job first thing in the morning.” Just so they can make minimum wage and be verbally abused and driven to suicide. Yay.

I spoke as someone who has years of experience in those jobs, and my dad spoke as someone who has never worked in retail in all his life and who’s probably a shopaholic.

I remember years ago at a retail job: a cocky young white male coworker said, “Hey, did you see all those losers waiting in the parking lot before we opened?”

“Yeah,” someone said. “Get a life!”

The morning is for sleeping, meditation, yoga, Pilates, and a cup of masala chai. It’s not for shopping, and it’s not for interacting with morning people and letting them talk your ear off and expect you to run around doing errands at dawn.

Every time you enter a business—be it a restaurant, a clinic, a grocery store, the bookstore, any kind of shop—the air conditioning is cranked up to about fifty-five degrees, or sixty degrees. It’s bizarre. At restaurants, I’ve been drinking hot tea even though it’s July. I realize it’s a hot climate in summer, but this is overkill. Just because the temperature is ninety degrees outside doesn’t mean it should be sixty degrees inside; it would make more sense to keep the air at about seventy-five, like it typically is at my parents’ house.

You never have that experience in Portland, where plenty of businesses (at least nonprofits, such as IOW) don’t even have air conditioning. Indeed, it’s normal to go into a restaurant or other business at which the windows and doors are open, and there aren’t screens. I remember repeatedly coaxing a beautiful calico cat out of the Vita Café; she was determined to go inside.


I am stunned at the quantity of Styrofoam I’ve seen since setting foot in Northwest Indiana. Clearly this region has not reached the twenty-first century. Even nice restaurants use Styrofoam take-home containers. Even the South Bend Chocolate Company Café gives you a Styrofoam mug if you have a cup of iced masala chai there! This is completely insane. In Portland, it’s normal to have thick recycled, compostable cardboard clamshell containers and compostable plastic cups, lids, and straws for beverages. That should be the norm. And as I anticipated, not a single restaurant or café or business of any sort has recycle bins, let alone compost bins. This region is so behind the times, and not just because the bookstores are overtly White Male Xian bookstores.

No matter what restaurant we visit, none of them had recycling or composting bins. (Because my dad is compelled to eat out nearly every day, in order to get the hell away from my mother, we spent a lot of time at restaurants.) Not even Roots, the all-natural vegan and vegetarian juice café, had a single recycling or composting bin in sight.

For that matter, when we’re in a shop and the person behind the counter automatically whips out a plastic bag, I hastily let them know that I don’t want a bag. My dad acts as though I’m the one who’s acting strange, and he’ll explain that I’m “one of those obsessive recyclers” or that I’m “from Portland, Oregon.” He doesn’t seem to understand that under the circumstances, I’m the only one who’s acting normal.


Whenever I’m behind a wheel, or simply outdoors in an area that has more than three cars, I encounter—yay! Fundamentalist Xian License Plates! Why practice separation of church and state if your state government is backasswords and run by fundamentalist Xians! Yes, that’s right: I keep seeing many license plates that say, “In God We Trust” because everyone on the road needs to know which cars are driven by smug and self-righteous, phallocratic, Goddess-rejecting monotheist. Wow, they must be really insecure about their religion if they think this is appropriate. Indiana has several choices of license plates; they don’t have to choose this particular one.

I am counting the days before I return to Portland. Seven.


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