June 2nd, 2008

In the capacious, perfectly sprung College of Wooster bus on the way from Cleveland Airport, one melted back into miles of smooth pavement stretching out ahead, wide shoulders empty of cyclists, walkers, pedlars, families engaged in construction, and sleepers curled into patches of shade—and with orderly, spaced, manageable traffic. At the airport, one drank from a public water fountain. One did not think to bargain at the trinket booths in the terminal.

What else marks the luxury of being a middle-class citizen of the United States? No need to monitor CNN to learn whether or not the Gujjars have blocked the road to the airport. Elevators are not stopped and darkened between floors by power outages. The homeless are tidied away, and eleven-year-old girls carrying their baby sisters are not allowed to plead that you give them a little money. Nor are parents allowed to send their children to touch your arm and urge you to buy a necklace or a postcard. No one holding up a monkey to the bus window at the traffic light in Burbank (as a subject to be paid for any photographs taken). No need to look to Shila for permission before eating a piece of fruit.

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