So yesterday I spent the better part of a freezing Chicago day waiting for my train to New Orleans at Union Station. As I sat around I noticed several groups of Amish folks milling around. There was a couple with a young baby girl. The parents looked about 15. It was kind of scary to think about.
So I’m watching these strange people with their beards and their funny hats and I’m reflecting on the oddness of seeing a people who churn their own butter standing in a concourse with LCD screens and motorized machinery, when I notice one of them is carrying a thermos. A thermos?! Are they allowed to have a thermos? Or do the rules change when they’re outside their normal commune?
This was disturbing me. I went for a walk, came back and went into McDonalds. The Amish were there. In McDonalds. Eating their Happy Meals and their McCafe coffees.
I’m thinking: ‘this is insane.’ I think about going over there and striking up a conversation, but then a group of black guys sit at the table next to them. These guys are wearing some bling and have cool hoodies. The Amish, as one, turn and angle their bodies away from these newcomers. After a few awkward moments they rise and move steadily away.
This is the only moment of my Amish experience that doesn’t surprise me.