After five more days spent outside the office, I have further evidence that the better the break, the tougher the return to work...because Sunday night feels especially bad this evening. It doesn't help that July has traditionally been the slowest month of the year at work, but with all this fantastic corporate restructuring, it appears that I'll be heading into a chaotic mess that may not resolve itself until the fall. Hence the return to Minnesota this afternoon was no picnic.
Work aside, there are certain things about Iowa that you just can't find in Minnesota. For example, as far as I know, you can't find a Fareway store anywhere in this state. After all, it does refer to itself as "Iowa's Most Economical Food Store." It's like a whole new shopping experience in there--look what I saw this week:
It may not be too easy to see in the picture, but those are Larry the Cable Guy-branded potato chips. If you look closely at the sign with the price on it, you'll see the phrase "Get -R- Done!" The classiness knows no bounds. I realize that Iowa is south of here, but I never thought of it as deep south. I haven't seen these chips anywhere before...I'm not sure if they just haven't caught on yet or if someone recently restocked the shelves, but they didn't appear to be flying off the rack.
This particular Fareway location has a trailer park nearby, so if these chips are going to gain a following anywhere in the state, they're set up for success at this exact spot. I can guarantee they have a hard time keeping these on the shelves at the Piggly Wiggly stores in Alabama and Mississippi. The top-selling flavor there is Larry's White (Trash) Corn Tortilla Chips. See what I'm missing by leaving Iowa?!
Every time I go back to Ankeny, I feel a decade older, even if only a few months have passed since my last visit. Every time I return, new buildings are under construction, others have been torn down, and new businesses are popping up everywhere. On this most recent stint in Ankeny, I stumbled across a newcomer in town when I drove to Fareway. And let me tell you, the excitement in town hasn't reached these heights since the Olive Garden opened a few years back. This is the view looking east from Fareway's parking lot:
That may not look like much yet, but let me give you a hint what the future holds for this hallowed ground:
Yes, Ankeny will be home to a Pizza Ranch in the not-too-distant future. It's like the culture of New York, London, Rome, and Paris are all pouring into town at once. On a side note, I'm betting the driver of that rusted out, bumperless truck in the picture above is the one who bought the lone bag of Larry the Cable Guy chips that was missing from the shelf.
It's precisely this type of thing that makes me feel so old. A Pizza Ranch is on the way! Across town, a new frozen yogurt shop called Cherry Berry is days away from a grand opening. A few miles south of that, an old building that's been sitting at the corner of the city's busiest intersection since the dawn of time was torn down since I my visit. Now I feel like one of those seventy-something grandpas who's always saying, "Son, I remember when that building used to be a gas station, and gas cost 89 cents a gallon! And see that over there? That used to be a real estate office. Beyond that, it was corn fields as far as the eye could see!"
These days, everything in town used to be something else, and I have very vivid memories of what those somethings used to be. I fear that recognizing that is one of the first steps toward old age, and I don't like it one bit. The city shouldn't have been allowed to change anything starting the day I moved away. But I suppose I'll allow the Pizza Ranch...
Now it's time to break some pool cues over my head in preparation of a difficult and demoralizing work week. Until next time, Iowa!