My weekly dates with my mother are generally timed to include a visit to the Amish store near her home. Our wish-list shifts into overdrive before we even open the door as beautiful seasonal plants and furniture tempt us from the front porch.
Self-restraint diminishes further once one opens the doors. The aromatic greeting of fresh-baked yeast-bread, succulent fried chicken, steaming fruit pies, and rich chocolate fudge greets you, and you struggle to push away all remembrance of gluttony being one of the seven deadly sins.
Shelves are laden with homemade jams, breads, pies, cakes, cheese, dairy items, salads, candies and meats. Half the store is a showroom for exquisite hand-made furniture, quilts and other handicrafts. The prices are high, but one-time-touristy-types and locals alike fill the large store on the three days a week when it opens and its vendors conduct business.
My particular favorite station is the candy stall, featuring old favorites from potato candy to shoe-string licorice, as well as a dozen flavors of fudge, caramel apples and the suddenly less-interesting commercially-produced treats advertised on TV.
The sales staff is fascinating. Beautiful, fresh-faced, young teen girls dressed in gingham; plump, smiling old women; white-haired old men whose hands and backs are strong from work . . . you'll find them all here. Young bearded men, the artisans responsible for crafting the one-of-a-kind furniture pieces, turn the heads of those dewy-cheeked girls. We catch an occasional glance and giggle, and we are reminded that despite the differences in dress and hair, they are still young girls like any other.
Or are they?
My daughter went to pay for a $3.00 caramel apple with her bank card, drawing a roll of the young sales girls' eyes? Displeasure? Rudeness? From Amish girls? Who'd-a-thunk it? Moments later she saw the cause--a sign specifically stated that there was a $5.00 minimum for such transactions. Still, she was astounded.
And why? Beacuse we set these girl apart from the rest of us, placing them on a pedestal. They were the essence of innocence, kindness patience and virtue, and we expected perfection from them. So much so that a casual roll of an eye had us completely befuddled.
We marvel, even now, at the reputation these good people have earned for industry, charity, and piety. I'd love to be known as so good and temperate a person that a roll of my eye would cause such a stir. Wouldn't we love to have such a reputation as a people? We expect perfection of them. I'd love to know what they expect from most of us.