Was There Reentry Culture Shock?

As I’ve tweeted a zillion times, which, yes, is a reflection of my excitement, I upgraded my flight home using miles because of my back and rib injuries. I mention this, not because of the aforementioned delight, but because the lounges for zee upper class passengers in Buenos Aires and Atlanta were the first places that I experienced a real cultural shift.

At the EZE airport, the upper class waiting area featured a ton of families, complete with kids running around, TVs blaring soccer…frankly, it was a bit raucous. (One American woman stomped out in a snit because it wasn’t to her liking.) What is interesting though, is that the prevailing attitude of the Porteños waiting for their flights was one of cultivated leisure. In Atlanta, on the other hand, the inhabitants were nearly all businessmen, with very few families, and most were trying to pose with a sense of importance and imperative.

Which made me realize, in Argentina, one really doesn’t witness people rushing about with an urgent awareness that they have to be somewhere.

More culture shock came upon emerging from immigration/security and the bowels of the airport tram in Atlanta. Where did the escalator deposit me? Straight into a food court, complete with the requisite long line of people at Dunkin Donuts for their morning coffee.

Nothing says “Back in America Baby” like a good old fashioned food court stuffed with fat Americans.

My flight was processed through security and immigration concurrently with a planeload of colorfully garbed families from India. While trying to make my way through the police-state measures now instituted to gain entry into my insane country, I found myself in the midst of a sea of Indian women with permanently affixed metal bracelets and rings attempting to pass through the metal detectors together with their cute smiling Indian babies crawling underfoot through secure TSA areas as authorities screamed “PICK UP THE BABY, PICK UP THE BABY.” All was chaos about me, but I had a wonderful tranquil feeling of relief that I wasn’t the one in a foreign land causing the hold up because I was screwing up unknown bureaucratic procedures.

When I arrived in Portland, I was greeted by mom-made Rice Krispy Treats (I’m so spoiled) and had a huge bowl of cherries waiting for me as well (which my intestinal system is not too happy about this morning as I over-indulged, which I am wont to do with cherries). Anyhow, as I went to toss out a few cherry stems and pits yesterday, I had to stifle a gasp when I opened the cabinet under the sink.

“My God, that kitchen garbage can is huge!” I wanted to say. But I tamped it down because I had some sense of awareness that the statement would be weird. It’s the little things, I guess — like paper towels that are huge and don’t fall apart when introduced to liquid — that make me realize I’m not in Kansas anymore. (Wizard of Oz reference for you non-Americans.)

Well, the little things and the fact that everyone in this city wants to eat at 6:30 pm too! (I went out with a friend (Thanks Steve!) on my first night home and the establishment in question had a waiting list for the evening meal at merienda (tea time)…talk about weird!

I’m used to being the only person among tens of millions that wants to eat dinner at 6:30 pm.

4 Responses to “Was There Reentry Culture Shock?”

  1. meg

    welcome back stateside! i can hardly wait to have your perspective….we are counting down the days until we arrive in BsAs!
    enjoy your time here in the states….wondering what you will be purchasing for your return trip…indicators of what we should bring!!!
    thinking of you and your re-entry!!!

  2. Dennis

    ‘Nothing says “Back in America Baby” like a good old fashioned food court stuffed with fat Americans.’

    I expect that this


    will be a bit of a reentry culture shock for us as well.

    What do you suppose the number would be for Buenos Aires? Less than 10%. Remove the recent Mercursor immigrant population, and I bet it is under 5%. This isn’t, of course, to say that Argentines are healthy. What with brown, leather skin by age 30, and lungs covered in tar and nicotine, cancer rates have to be sky-high. But they aren’t overweight.

  3. Michele

    Meg! I will let you know what we take back with us. One thing I thought of was American playing cards!

  4. Michele

    Dennis, I am too busy stuffing my face with homemade Rice Krispy Treats to think about obesity! *laugh*

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