Shock and More Shock

I’m in all kinds of shock since I got back to Seattle a week ago. Weather shock – 50F instead of 90F. Clutter shock – aware of all the stuff that fills our condo as opposed to the spareness of our apartment in Saigon. Food shock – the amount of fat on or in everything and the portion sizes offered. Shopping shock – noticing the number of shiny new shopping bags people are carrying out of downtown stores. If consumer confidence is down in the US I can’t see it. Traffic shock – how aggressive and unforgiving drivers are and how fast they go compared to the slow zen-like movement on the streets of Saigon. And, culture shock – how few people make eye contact or say hello in contrast with the friendliness of the people on the streets of Saigon.

It’s natural to look for differences. We’re moving between a Third World country and the most developed country in the world. But although the contrast is stark it doesn’t always favor the developed state. The day I arrived home is the day the crazy Army psychiatrist killed 13 of his fellow soldiers at Fort Hood, and yesterday’s headlines in Seattle were about a rich eye surgeon who tried to have his partners murdered because he was unhappy with the million dollar split when they decided to change the business model.

Traffic is a nightmare in Saigon and the sidewalks are broken and filled with parked motorbikes that force you to walk in the street. But, I feel safe any time of day or night on the streets of Saigon. I can’t say the same about Seattle.

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