Sunday, September 02, 2007

Everyone's a Regular Somewhere

My brother manages a small restaurant in a small town. By far, most of his customers are regulars. It is a beach town, so people pass through from other places too, but this is a popular chain in the small towns of eastern North Carolina. It works because the (apparent) commitment to service. In a small town with few places to eat, so long as you keep the store clean and make everyone happy, you get people coming back on a regular basis. Where else would they go anyway, though?

Either way, the last couple times I've visited him, I get to hear all these neat stories about his regulars. Actually, his fiancée does most of the talking at that point, because she has an outstanding memory. A good quality for a waitress to have, but I think she excels at memorizing things (so long as numbers aren't involved.) She knows the names of the customers, their orders, what businesses they run, the names of their kids, other tidbits from their last conversations... really extraordinary, because of the number of people who she does this for. Thing is, some of her "regulars" don't know who all the other "regulars" are. So while one is teasing her in a non-offensive (because of familiarity) way, another might take off attempting to defend his special waitress... can be amusing.

I used to really hate the idea of being a regular. If I'd gone to one restaurant enough times that I was recognized, I figured it was too many times and I'd stop going! I got over that not long ago, since I'm pretty much recognized very easily nowadays. My "regular" dinnerspot for a while now (in fact, only one because I don't eat out that often anymore, I and my roommate have both been cooking every week which leaves and needs less time for eating out) is a place called Greek Fiesta. (No, I'm not on their mailing list or anything... and I better not find out someone put me on it, either...) It's the Greek salad with feta cheese that keeps me coming back. In fact, although my "order" changes once in a while, seldom do I not get a salad... because for me the salad is the best part.

It's also a nice bonus that they have free wireless internet, so I can blog or whatever (usually whatever). I would've written this nice post there tonight, but their internet was down unfortunately... or fortunately. I read a few pages for my history class out of The Specter of Communism. I had to read about half of it by this weekend so I can write a paper. If you can't read the little print in red, it says: The United States and the Origins of the Cold War 1917-1953. And it started in 1917, Woodrow Wilson, key US-Russian relations from that point on, with Lenin, then with Stalin.

This class is US Foreign Policy, but it's a history not political science class. It's also a piggyback graduate (I'm a senior, btw) class, with 10 different books on the course reading list (which yes, I had to buy.) This is the first, the second I can start on now I've read the first 85 pages of this one. My big question for this class right now is why do Americans feel justified in waging ideological wars, but view it as injustice for anyone else to do the same? If you look at what was going on the Soviet Union, and what was going on in the USA... and ever present in my mind are the current foreign policy decisions. Politics is seeming to me to be nothing more than a stupid game, with different players rising to power and trying to win that game. Not much has changed in 90 years. By post-WW2 it's really obvious... anti-Communism in the late 40's was a political tool used all politicians, no matter what their goal or standpoint (racial segregation, racial integration, pro-union, anti-union, lower taxes, bigger military.) If somehow you (the politician) weren't voted for, or your issue, it was a sign communism was taking over. What a load, huh? Anyway, it's so easy to just put "Islam" in place of "communism."

Next on my list? America, Russia, and the Cold War: 1945-2006. The edition I hold (pictured left) is the 10th. On the back cover, which briefly describes the new edition, I read "Chapters covering the post-1991 era describe what some expert observers see as a new Cold War emerging." (emphasis mine) It then gives a brief list of new additions in the new edition, mentioning the Pope, the Beatles, and one I'd like to mention here: "The Reagan administration's support for Saddam Hussein's dictatorship in Iraq, including tolerating Saddam's use of chemical and biological weapons against Iranians."

When I tell people about this class, like the 10 books, weekly paper, graduate students making up the majority, they want to know why I'd put myself through it. (So I'm responding here in case any of you wonder the same.) For one thing, I think the material is interesting. For another, I think it is incredibly relevant, and I know I for one am horribly informed on the topic, and while I'm eager to debate anyone with what I know already (over eager, probably), I would rather be informed, and I should be. I should be anyway if I want to even open my mouth, and I should be because I am an American and am supposed to participate in this "democracy" we allegedly have going on once a year.

And after just one class (we meet weekly) I understand why it's so relevant, even if we only talk about the Cold War... because what dominates foreign policy for 5 decades (and, I think, beyond) is just this: ideological fear. History has never been my strong point, I do much better in math, but I'm hoping that since I am at least interested in the material that I can keep up and excel in the class, but more importantly gain a better understanding of global affairs, via historical perspective. InshaaAllah. With that in mind, I think everyone should be more informed. And I think the aforementioned books are a great way to start. I would heartily recommend the one which I've read, the Leffler Specter of Communism (even the title hints the ideological basis of the Cold War.)

Someone recently left a comment on my blog about Russian converts to Islam. So I'm going to admit I don't know anything about Russian converts, or Islam in Russia at all today. But I would be interested in learning.

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