One of the quickest ways to increase our grocery bill is for me to tag along with my wife to the local Amish bent and dent store. I love finding odd things at cheap prices. Of course, there’s always the off chance that the odd thing will turn out to be stale, full of maggots, or – even worse – gluten free. That’s part of the fun though, you never know what you’ll find!
Last time I was perusing the aisle of the Yoder’s Bent & Dent Emporium, it occurred to me that shopping Amish bent & dent stores is a lot like wandering into the mission field.
First, let’s consider the foreign language. My wife speaks the Michigan version of PA Dutch, the native tongue of Amish folks ’round here. I do not. I struggle with one language, frankly, and prefer to simply use my wife as a translator. This only works when my wife wants me to know what she is discussing with some other person. I suspect the translator isn’t being honest when both she’s pointing at me and laughing and then insisting they are only discussing how handsome I look. Since I don’t understand the official language of Yoder’s Bent & Dent Emporium, I rely on context, sign language, and interpreters, much like the mission field (of course, Amish usually speak English too, but it is a hard to decipher dialect).
Second, let’s consider the goods at Yoder’s Bent & Dent Emporium. They are often in a foreign language, taste funny, and look strange. This is much like shopping while in the foreign field. You pick up a bag of something, look at the expiration date, and try to determine if the packaging is still good enough so that whatever inside is still safe to eat. You never heard of the brand name before but it’s so cheap, that it’s worth a shot. You learn to try new things you never had before, like ham & cheese flavored rice cakes or maybe chocolate granola bars covered in blue cheese. Typically it’s items that the general population soundly rejected and refused to buy, which forces the food distributor to sell the items at rock bottom prices to little bent & dent stores dotting the country side. This ensures that everything at Yoder’s Bent & Dent Emporium is strange, off the wall items. These strange items create a vibe similar to the mission field.
Third, you stick out like a sore thumb. All the other shoppers are typically Amish or varying persuasions of homeless people. If you don’t have a straw hat, wear a bonnet, or if your pants have a zipper, you stick out in the crowd and feel a little sheepish. However, like many cultures, the Amish are quite friendly and happy you are giving them money. They do their best to accommodate your cultural shortcomings.
Fourth, they don’t take your currency. After you’ve spent all that time perusing the haphazard aisles of Yoder’s Bent & Dent Emporium, you get up to that cash register and find that they don’t take credit card, only cash. You turn to your wife and see if she has cash but she’s three dollars too short. You begin bartering items of clothing or hubcaps off of your minivan but as it turns out, Amish don’t have a need for minivan hubcaps. This too, has the vibe of a the mission field.
Fifth, the electric service is unreliable or non-existent.
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