What’s so good about convenience?

Suburban America in a word: Convenient

Warning: This is likely to come off as a rant.

I recently returned from a trip over the ocean to visit Ireland, one place I’ve always wanted to see. I’ve been to plenty of places in the western world, but this was my first trip to Europe. While I went on the trip to see the beautiful countryside and experience the culture, I also observed and absorbed some of the vast differences between the societies. While there I caught a few minutes of an interview with an Irishman who was currently in the US exploring and documenting the experience. His summation was the same in that he suggested getting out of the city and into the country where the real beauty and unique culture is found. His one word summary was dead on, the US is Convenient. Why?

Not being a huge fan of the pace in North American societies today, not a user of fast food, not a devout TV watcher (especially not the news) yet still a fan of sitting around a fireplace doing next to nothing in the evenings or on a weekend, this country (Ireland) was right up my alley. I realize I’m probably in the minority here, but I sure wish people in my neck of the woods would get down to earth more, away from the media, ignore McDonald’s and take some time to enjoy what’s around you without all the rush and all the noise. What’s the rush anyway?

In effort to keep this post short and being a fan of bullet-ed lists, here are some of the subtle yet significant differences experienced abroad that reminded me of better days and better ways.

  • Few Conveniences:In six days and about a dozen of the larger towns in Ireland, I counted three (3) fast food joints. Two McDonald’s and one old-school Wimpy’s. When I was hungry I had little choice but to stop what I was doing and sit down for a meal. It might take 30-60 minutes to eat, drink and pay the check, but it was relaxing, enjoyable and a lot better for me physically and mentally. I could have hit a drive-thru and kept moving on to the next sights, but the restaurant was a sight to see as well.
  • Preservation over Convenience: If you’ve ever driven the roads over there, preservation of historical landmarks, borders (walls) and overall beauty of the landscape obviously comes first over the convenience of a wide road with paved shoulders, rumple strips and guardrails for those sleeping at the wheel. Being forced to slow down and enjoy the scenery or hit a stone wall wasn’t bad.
  • The upside of Less:While the food wasn’t exactly low-calorie by any means, the number of extra large (obese) humans was noticeably less than can found all across this great country.  It’s ok to push back from the table. Does anyone really need a 64 oz. coke with their triple decker burger?

It seems interesting to me that with all of these conveniences (corner stores, fast food, drive thrus and service companies) available to us, most seem to be rushed and complain about not having enough time in the day to get things done. How did our parents do it, they seemed to have time left over?
As interesting and somewhat related is the economic conditions here at a consumer level. High debt, low or no income yet still eating fast food, shopping on the fly and blaming someone else.

What’s the point Sayers? While quite likely nothing more than a rant falling on deaf ears, what are we all doing here? Slow down and enjoy before it disappears. Please.