Sunday, July 3, 2016

"BUT ALASKA IS IN THE UNITED STATES!"

The woman just kept repeating it over and over again into her cell phone, just two days shy of America the Beautiful's birthday. 

I felt her pain.

She was standing in the corner of a supermarket foyer, having what I would describe as an "animated transactional dialogue." I knew from her tone, words, and body language what this call was all about, because I and everyone who lives here has had this same call at one time or another. 

Could be a bank, could be a cell phone company, could be Amazon. Perhaps a courier service, car dealership, or even the United States Postal Service itself. 

We can only hazard a guess at why basic geography and earth science have eluded enough American citizens such that they ask questions in Alaska like: "What elevation is this?" (when AT SEA LEVEL), "Why is the glacier so dirty and why don't they clean it?," "Do they take U.S. dollars here,?" and oh so much more.

So it was with no small degree of empathy that I eavesdropped on this woman's conversation, in which she was clearly trying to convince the person on the other end that Alaska was, indeed, one of the 50 United States of America. 

I knew this script from memory. A merchant tries to tell you they only serve the United States. You ask them if they mean the contiguous states, and they draw a blank at the word. Victorious, at least in theory, you try to reason with them with increasing desperation.

"BUT ALASKA IS IN THE UNITED STATES DAMMIT!! I'M TELLING YOU! ALASKA IS A STATE AND HAS BEEN SINCE 1959!"

Then you throw your phone across the room in a rage, and cut up a waxy $6 tomato for your sandwich.

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