I'm becoming increasingly sure that the wealth of choice in America is greatest wealth we have.
Goran, a Macedonian friend of mine (who is studying in Boston) and I have hung out a few times during our stay in the States. On our way to Uno's Pizzeria the other night, I told him that the Buffalo wings were the best thing on the menu, but he was free to try whatever he wanted. We sat down and he ordered the same thing I got without considering any other options. I didn't think much about it until we decided to get dessert. I offered him whatever he wanted on the menu. Said menu had 6 items. He studied each item as if it were a new theology being introduced at the seminary he attends. Finally after 10 minutes (I'm not exaggerating) he was ready.
Another time we were at the grocery store. I had a few items to purchase and asked him if he needed anything. Goran had a sore throat so he decided to try one of the things I recommend: Sprite, 7up, seltzer water and regular water. Problem was each of the waters came in different brands and sizes. He was obviously overwhelmed so he asked me for help. I'm not very good at telling others what's best for them so we stood there in the beverage isle staring at the drinks as if we had just spent all day in a quantum physics lecture.
I feel bad for Goran. He's not used to all this choice. If his childhood was anything like Petra's, he grew up going to a grocery store the size of his closet. Sure they had everything you needed, but you might have to take Cheerios instead Frosted Flakes. You were at the mercy of what they had.
But he made it, right? He's ok! Did he need to be able to choose between 14 different cheeses in order to have a yummy grilled cheese? Do we really need the choice of 7 different thicknesses which which our smoked honey glazed turkey can be sliced at the deli? Do I need Wonderbread to take the crust off me before I even purchase a loaf? Do my Fritos have to be in the shape of a scoop in order to fully enjoy my chips and salsa?
For every example I've listed though, the fact is that someone out there prefers it that way over another. Just makes me wonder if the wealth of choice is something we can afford to lose.