When we had our guests from New York City recently, they were impressed that even though we live in a “country setting” (with cornfields, cattle and horses around us), yet we are not very far from modern shopping malls and stores. Conveniently located near us is the sprawling 2 million square foot shopping mall, the Jordan Creek Town Center, and the surrounding shops and business institutions that sprouted around it. It is hard to believe, that when we moved to Iowa less than 8 years ago, this current area of premier shopping malls, stores, dining and entertainment complex was all acres upon acres of cornfields.
In a way it is good, as we have all the modern conveniences of city-like living with even upscale stores and restaurants. On the other end, it is sad that we are rapidly losing our prairies and farmlands to shopping malls, stores and business buildings. Is this progress? Or regress?
I wish though that my immediate vicinity, and my front porch view of farm fields, would be preserved for many years (hopefully my lifetime) to come. Anyway, it takes me only several minutes to drive from my house to the shopping complex, that is if I use the main thoroughfare and interstate highway. However, if I use the back roads and shortcuts, then I can even cut my travel time in half, as it is only about 6 miles (9-10 km) away.
Here’s the comparison of my shopping experience through the years and through the different places where I lived:
Let us say I want to buy a trendy shirt from a deluxe shopping mall. How much time would that take me to get there?
If I am still living in our home in Sampaloc, Manila, I could go to SM City in North EDSA (a comparable distance of 9-10 km). I need to ride a tricycle to Sta. Mesa, then catch a jeepney to Cubao, and then ride a bus or jeepney plying EDSA, to SM City. The time it would take me depends on the following: how fast I can walk to the jeepney/bus stop, the availability of tricycle, jeepney or bus, how many passengers would hop in or alight from the public vehicles, how heavy and convoluted the traffic is, how many traffic lights will be on red, how many policemen are hiding behind the light posts, and whether the policemen have their lunch already and their need to make “kotong” on the poor drivers. I would say I am lucky if I get to the mall in an hour or so.
You may argue that it would be faster if I use LRT and MRT (city rail transit system) to get to SM City. However, MRT was still not operational when I first left the Philippines, so I could not vouch for this through my own experience.
If I am still living in New York City, and I am in my apartment in Elmhurst, Queens, I could go to Macy’s Department Store at 34th Street and 7th Avenue (Fashion Avenue) in midtown Manhattan (also a comparable distance of 9-10 km). I need to walk to Roosevelt Avenue and to the subway station. I would catch the Number 7 train, downtown bound, then transfer train at 42nd avenue to the Number 1,2,3 subway line, and get off at 34th Street. The time it would take me depends on the following: how fast I can walk, as well climb up and down the stairs of the subway station and between subway lines, how frequent the intervals of the passing trains, how much passengers that I have to compete with for an available space to hop inside the train, and how many commuters, panhandlers and homeless people who could block my way as I navigate the complicated subway system. I am lucky if I can get there in 30 to 45 minutes.
Would driving by car from Queens to Manhattan be faster? Don’t count on it. You would spend 30 minutes just searching for a parking space!
Now that I am here in my home in Iowa, I would go to Jordan Creek Mall in West Des Moines (a distance of 9.6 km to be exact). The only way to go is to drive, though riding a bike is an option. How much time would it take me depends on the following: how fast I can drive…….in the dirt road. And usually, it takes me 8 minutes.
There’s one downside though – my car gets dirty and it looks like I used it to plow through the cornfields. It gets more obvious when I parked it beside spotless and shiny cars in front of the mall. But who cares? At least the shirt I bought is clean.