Tales of Re-entry

Everything had changed very quickly. Many years ago, I told my parents after a gap year and a half that I was staying in the UK and might live overseas forever so “grieve now.”

Eh, what can I say? I play hard.

I found myself this summer, in a check out queue at a local grocery store in my home town in Ohio buying $80 worth of food, all the basics, because I was moving back for awhile.

Moving back. To the US. To Ohio. The idea was crazy to me.

I was still trying to process how many things had changed in such a short amount of time to bring me back when I was putting my groceries on the belt to check out. When the lady finished ringing them up and quoted me the price, I whipped out my debit card. She said: “We don’t take debit cards.”

What!??! You don’t take debit cards?!

I pulled out my credit card in a half hearted attempt to fix the problem.

“We only take Discovery.”

Who the heck uses Discovery? Most other countries haven’t heard of Discovery. What about a debit or a Visa?

“We only will take cash or check ma’am”


Cash or CHEQUE?! Trying to remember the last time I had ever used a cheque. What was this?! The dark ages?! 1995?! Did people carry a hundred dollars cash or more on them to go grocery shopping?! This was crazy talk to me.

I felt this discomfort in my chest. I wanted to yell and shout. I wanted to find the manager and tell him what I thought of their system and to hold my well used debit card in front of him and say “THIS has been used in obscure villages in Europe and many developing countries. What is your excuse?!”

I was.. culture shocking. Big time. Only this time. I knew it was worse. It was reverse culture shocking. Re-entry. I had $80 worth of stuff on a conveyor belt that I could not pay for because one of the biggest grocery stores in my home town* was living in another century. I asked where I could get cash and then nearly had another melt down because I had no idea what they were talking about. The name of the business had no category for me. It turns out it was a petrol station chain, let’s call it a gas station chain, I had never heard of.

I left my food. Went to my car. Drove three minutes away. Got out cash. Came back and paid up.

I have not been back to that grocery store. On principle, I cannot bring myself to do it. Get a debit card machine guys.

All of reentry has not been that way. But there have been many moments. I am back but I am a foreigner in my own country. It is a weird feeling. Even with all the going and coming, it has changed and I have changed, a lot.

Or rather, maybe some things it has not changed and that is what drives me crazy. 21st century people!

Today I had to order a new cheque book. All this bill paying by cheque. I ran out. I have not had a new cheque book since high school if that tells you how few cheques I have ever had to write.

Ah reentry. Here we go.

*Note, I would not consider myself having grown up in a small town. Suburb of a city. We should have amenities.


You feel more foreign in the country you hold a passport from than anywhere else in the world .

2 thoughts on “Tales of Re-entry

  1. On our way to Philly last week, my friends and I stopped to get groceries in Northeastern Ohio and probably stopped at the very grocery store you mention here. I went to pay with a credit card also to be told they only take cash, check, or Discover. It was so weird. I think they should have a warning sign outside. Fortunately, one of my party had a Discover card. I remember in college all of my Northeast Ohio friends would talk about how much they missed this grocery store. I have to admit, I don’t understand. I don’t think that it is a recently-moved-back-to-the-US thing, I just think the store is weird.


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