Well, we took our kitchen table to the basement to make a study area for the kids. Hopefully, this will help to keep the house a bit neater: Rather than stacking backpacks all over the house, the kids will take them downstairs. But this absence of the table leaves a surprising emptiness in the kitchen. It makes it look as if we’ve just moved into the house or are in the process of leaving it. So we take our meals in the dining room at the table my grandmother gave my husband and me for a wedding gift.
“We need a new table,” my husband said as he banged his head on the kitchen light yesterday.
I wanted to buy a table made locally; a table made by people who live close to me; by people who take pride in their work; by people who take a product from start to finish. But we didn’t want to spend thousands of dollars.
And so we headed out.
“This place is huge!” My husband said, after we dodged the group of salespeople lined up at the entrance and began walking through the showroom of the first store. We wove our way past the couches and the armchairs in a room where a fake fire blazed in a fake fireplace. “See anything you like?” he asked after we’d finally located the tables.
“I don’t know where to start,” I replied, watching Squints bounce on an easy chair. “There are just so many of them.”
We finally found a not-too-crappy table that wouldn’t look horrible in our kitchen. With three chairs, a bench and the table itself, we’d be set back around five hundred dollars. A salesperson hovering nearby stepped up briskly.
“That’s quite a sale,” he said. “Free delivery, too.”
We nodded. Told him we’d be back. Left to look at another store.
The second store was worse: Four employees stood at the entrance, prepared to pounce as soon as we walked in. Just in time, I dodged right to avoid them. But my husband, blessed—and cursed—with an extraordinary amount of courtesy, was lassoed in by a salesman to listen to the details of this store’s sale. He caught up with us near the living rooms.
"Thanks a lot,” he grumbled.
“Hello?” A woman bustled up.
My husband turned around.
She beamed. “I just wanted to introduce myself.” She pressed a business card into his hand. “If you need anything at all, you just let me know.”
We made it to the dining room tables before she reappeared. “Could I offer any of you water bottles?”
“Sure,” Squints said.
“No.” I confess I was less than polite.
“How about this one?” My husband said, pulling out a chair and sitting down.
“Not too bad,” I said. “Squints, crawl under and see where it’s made.”
“Malaysia,” he read.
“That’s a nice sale,” the water bottle woman said, as we pushed the chairs back in. “And tomorrow’s the last day. Let me just write down my hours and get you a style sheet.” She returned with another business card and a brochure. “You can also buy an insurance plan,” she said, handing me a piece of paper with the details.
“Want to try the mall?” My husband said, after we'd left.
“No,” I grumped. “I hate shopping.”
The mall was packed. The Christmas decorations were up. And all the cheap crappy Christmas gifts were out: nose hair trimmers; reindeer socks; fake iPods; individual coffee makers that you could customize in all manner of colors. A variety of products that would do little to sate the appetites of the shoppers dazzled from their racks.
We blew past the employees milling around the furniture department and whizzed through the tables. There was nothing.
* * *
According to the EPA, “some 3,000 acres of productive farmland are lost to development each day in this country". Looking around, I can see where that land went: At over one hundred and thirty thousand square feet, this mall of ours takes up about thirty acres of land. The stores of a major US retailer take up another fourteen thousand acres of US land. A large fast food chain’s US restaurants eat up eleven thousand acres. The stores of one pharmacy chain take up four hundred acres; a large fitness outfit, eleven hundred; a home improvement store over five thousand acres.
The absence of the family farm; this absence of the local producer is more striking than the absence of the table in our kitchen. So, we’ll wait and save our money and buy our table from a local producer in the same way we buy our vegetables from a local CSA. As much as we can, we will buy from our local producers.
Because there are just so many of them left.
For this week's Indie Ink Writing Challenge
challenged me with "There are just so many of them!" I challenged Kat
with "Ur didn't believe in the ancient maps any more than she believed that the earth was round. She threw the maps into the fire and watched them slowly burn to ash." (Sorry, Kat).
Labels: Consumption, Environmentalism, Farms, Indie Ink