Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Where I Live: Baltimore County

There is likely only one reason you've ever heard of Glen Arm, MD, and that is if you know me personally. Furthermore, you have probably only been to Glen Arm, MD if you were coming to visit me at my parents' house.

That's because Glen Arm is not really much of a city. We have our own zip code only because the area once contained a post office. That post office closed a few years ago though, due to lack of business, and it now sits a lonely shack on Manor Road. The Long Green Volunteer Fire Company is still alive and well, and there are a number of fine churches in the area. Long Green Baptist even boasts a baseball diamond out back, where I played softball in my elementary school years. Mostly though, Glen Arm, MD is miles of farmland, interrupted here and there by single-family homes.

The house that will always be my first (and probably most cherished) home sits just up the hill from Kanes Road. It is bordered on two sides by cow pasture (I became all-but immune to the smell of manure years ago and cow tipping is a myth) and on the third by a mid-19th century Mennonite Cemetery. We have one neighbor on the remaining side of our property, but you would never call our street a neighborhood. I have always envied the children who could run up the road to play with their best friends, because my friends were always at least a 10-minute drive away.

There's just not much to do in Glen Arm that doesn't require a heavy dose of imagination. Just about anything that is worth doing near my hometown requires a 20 minute drive, with one exception:

Ah, the memories. After only 8 short minutes (during which time we'd encounter our one stoplight about 2.5 miles into the trip), we'd reach the shopping center commonly known as Four Corners in Phoenix, MD, where my love affair with Safeway Food and Drug first began.

Once a week we'd venture out to civilization to pick up our six gallons of milk and two loaves of bread, stock up on cereal, ice cream, and ground beef, and replenish our lunchmeat supply. The woman working the deli was always so friendly - she'd slice off an extra piece of Yellow American for us to eat as we shopped. We'd weave our way through the bins of colorful produce stacked high in their bins, and if we were lucky, we'd convince Mom to stop in the bakery and pick up a box of Entenmann's Rich Frosted Donuts.

The aisles were always clean and neat at Safeway. Everything was organized and in its proper place. The whole store smelled like fresh bread. It was just as a grocery store should be.

Sometimes when we were out we'd have to stop in to other stores to pick up a few items, but it was never the same. Giant. Mars. Super Fresh. Food Lion. ShopRite. None of them smelled quite right. Or they'd be dirty. Groceries would be strewn all over the floor. Their in-store brand wouldn't taste the same. They were just low-rent excuses trying to be Safeway.

Where I'm from, you shop at Safeway. That's all there was, but it was okay, because it was perfect. And so my love persists. When I moved to Montgomery County, I found an apartment complex about a mile from a Safeway. I love it. It's better than any other grocery store in the area.* And that's where I live.

*Whole Foods and Wegmans are not grocery stores. They're little community centers that also happen to sell groceries, and thus in my mind do not count.


Jstone said...

so you lived in the safeway?

I like my safeway, it make a thunder noise just before watering the tomatos.

PS- if we had cows on the eastern shore, I would've tipped those suckers.

Anna Cyganowski said...

Oh Ali, you're making me super homesick!

They don't have Safeways in Michigan. This was a huge adjustment for me and my brother when our family moved. Even now, I grumble to myself whenever I walk into a Kroger or Meyer. Come on, not even a Klein's? It doesn't help that in Troy, the only grocery in town is a Price Chopper (horrible name for a place to buy food, IMHO).

So whenever I visit Maryland, making a trip to Safeway (and Bagelmeister) is a must. (Just ask Ally...;) )

ali d said...

@Anna That's exactly what I tried to explain to David when we were in Saratoga Springs! It's a fine enough grocery store (the shelf organization is a little wonky) compared to most of the other stores I've been to, but the name is just TERRIBLE. He didn't understand. It just makes it sound so cheap, like they're trying too hard.

Alex said...

@Anna- I grew up going to Meijer, so Safeway and Shoppers and such are all strange to me.

@Ali- your family would need 6 gallons of milk at a time.

Capt. said...

Safeway is pretty great, but it was always way more... well we'll call it entertaining when I went with you guys. :-)

I am pretty partial to Food Lion myself. Not so much for any price, cleanliness, selection or to be honest legitimate reason. It is mostly, well entirely, because there are Food Lions at the beaches where I love to vacation AND they sell beer. There is nothing like picking up everything you need for BBQing and 12 of Guinness.

While we are on the subject of mostly grocery stores. I would like to say out of all the grocery stores I have ever been in Shoppers is by far the least consistent, if you live near College Park MD. you now what I mean. There are 2 Shoppers Food Warehouses within 10 minutes drive of each other. The Shoppers on Rt1 by 495 and the Home Depot is nice, clean and well lit. We call that the "good Shoppers". If you go a few minutes down 193, you get to what is called "sketchy Shoppers". Half the lights are burnt out, the floor is dirty, the staff can't seem to work the registers and you feel like at any moment you may be mug. OOOHH Good.

Alex said...

@Capt.- you're right, the sketchy Shoppers has a terrible selection of products, and I've even seen moldy baked goods in their 'fresh'bakery department, but the staff there has always been incredibly helpful. My roommate and I went shopping in heels once (because we're twits) and one of the stock guys went to find a shopping cart for us so we wouldn't keep wandering around the store with too-heavy baskets.