While at the local convenience store/deli in the tiny, tiny town of Cashton on Friday night a few weeks back, I noted a sight that gave me some pause. I live in a part of Western Wisconsin that happens to have a large Amish community, and I’ve grown up seeing them all around. I’ve seen them walking along the side of the road as my loud, yellow bus flies by; I’ve met them coming into or out of town in their buggies in the rain, snow, sleet, and shine; I’ve gone with Dad on countless trips to Amish homes, and have been stared at by the younger children, wide eyes and little pink mouths slightly ajar. For me, the Amish are a part of life in Western Wisconsin, but I know this is not the case in most of the rest of the country.
This is why I was suddenly struck by the rarity of what happened on that Friday night. It was around 9 o’clock at night when a group of three or four Amish walked in, a woman and a couple of men. Dressed in their somber grays, blacks, and navy blues, they made quite a contrast against the shelves of snack foods which blared gold, blue, purple, and green loudly off their plastic covered wrappings. They went about their business, speaking in quiet tones, and ordered a round of sub sandwiches from the deli section. Then, they stood back to wait, leaning a little awkwardly against the wall. The woman sipped a container of Pepsi, and glanced around nonchalantly. Perhaps they were on their way back from an Amish wedding or church service. They looked like any travel-weary person, just waiting for a bite to eat and then back to the open road. The main difference: these travelers wouldn’t be hopping into a Buick or a Honda-they got to look forward to a bumpy buggy ride home, with a tired horse to take them there.
What I loved most about this simple occurrence was how my friends handled it. They’ve both grown up in the area and did not even blink when the Amish came in. In fact, I was the only one who noted these quiet folk as they went about their simple way of living, sipping soda under the fluorescent lights.