The difference between my life in Beverly Hills America & inner City Sydney Australia
The second instalment in my series in the differences between America & Australia (Americans & Australians) was spurred on by a recent end-of-year sleepover. With five teenage boys in the house the breakfast request was for pancakes.
“Damn, I don’t have eggs,” I said.
Enter the concept of the Corner Store or Milk Bars.
In Australia …
I would have sent the boys on their bikes or skateboards down the local corner shop to get said eggs. The boys would have got dressed and practically run out the door.
“Don’t forget to take the dog,” I’d yell at them, at which they’d promptly run back, grab the dog and the lead and continue racing out the door.
Sometime later they’d come home with eggs (and anything else I’d requested) and a treat for themselves. As payment. Works for them, works for me.
In America …
We live in the hills of Beverly Hills—down one hill is Beverly Hills “flats” (think the mansions and palm trees) and down the other hills is the “posh” part of the Valley, Sherman Oaks.
To “rush out” just to get eggs I need to hop in the car. (Yes it’s LA, everyone drives everywhere.) There’s no corner store to walk to. I have to go down one of my two hills to the closest “market” (which makes it sound really glamorous but it’s really just American for supermarket).
It’s not too bad, a drive down the hill to Sherman Oaks is around 10 minutes (out of traffic). Except couple that with the fact that you have to park, go in, get the eggs (it’s a big supermarket and the eggs are in the far back corner—good to know if you’re in Ralph’s Sherman Oaks and all you need is eggs), get back in the car and head back up the hill. That’s 30 minutes of my life I can’t get back all because I don’t have enough eggs. Yes, yes, I know I could have given them something else but it’s the holidays and they worked really hard to stay up all night what’s a sleepover without pancakes for breakfast???
I hate the fact that there is no corner store or local “market”. We had one at our local shopping centre it closed down now long after we got here. And even then I can’t send the kids there to go on their bikes, I still have to drive.
Flashback to Shanghai
In Shanghai our apartment was across the road from the international supermarket, CitiShop. The kids were a little too young to send over at the start but towards the end they could go themselves. Plus I didn’t have to get in my car and they had all the treats (like Tim Tams) I needed if I was feeling homesick. I just couldn’t look at the price.
I may be greeted with a smile and helpful “checkout chicks” here in the US but the kids going to the corner shop for me. Priceless.
Some years later I’m reminded of this post as I stumbled upon an article a friend emailed me. It was from the NY Times where the author gets nostalgic about the long-lost Milk Bar (as it’s known in Melbourne). It makes me so sad to see this “progress”. What cheers me up though is that our friends’ corner shop in Lilyfield is still alive and kicking. It’s one of the first places our kids visit when they go home and my girlfriend is still sending people to “Ramsay’s” to pick up bread, milk, eggs or fresh produce. Long live Ramsay’s!
xx It Started in LA xx
PS: It wouldn’t be fair if I didn’t ‘fess up to the fact that our corner store shut down shop since we left home. BUT there is another shop a little further down the road I can still send the kids to AND there’s a new mini Grocer (IGA) that’s opened close by that I can also send the kids to. Do yourselves a favour and support the local corner store, before you need to hop in the car to get bread and milk. Or eggs, don’t forget the eggs.