It’s one thing to wait in line for ice cream, another if it’s for butter

anrda.jpgDo you hate standing in lines? Not as much as you might if you were from one of the countries on the other side of what we used to call the Iron Curtain. Andra Miron, right, a Romanian journalist and visiting fellow with the World Press Institute, had this perspective on — of all things — a visit to an ice cream shop in St. Paul.

I have learned that Americans will stand in line for ice cream. I knew they stood in line to get into a club, but that was just marketing, because inside the place was not packed. But this ice cream shop was.

In Communist times, which I lived through as a child, we left our little chair in line, or our milk bottle, and returned in about an hour or so to get some milk, or two eggs, or half a pack of butter, or chicken wings. These were delicacies. Or we might pick up a portion of soy salami. We received the amount we were entitled to, according to the number of people in our family.

So you will understand me now if I say that lines are not my cup of tea.

I asked some guys standing in line why they were doing this. They answered that this was pretty much the only ice cream shop in the area, and the ice cream was really, really good.

I had introduced myself to them as a journalist from Romania. A voice from behind me asked, Where did you say you’re from? Romania, I answered.

“Well, I am from Romania too.” A girl from Romania, studying here, who has lived in the United States for nine years, was standing in the same ice cream line as me, at the same hour, on the same August evening, in St. Paul, Minn.

Small world.

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