Reminders of an Amish road not taken


A short Amish woman, wearing a brownish-gray dress and white prayer cap or covering, was camped outside of my busy work cafeteria in the Philadelphia suburbs on Wednesday selling various jams; large oversized oatmeal cookies; raisin bread smothered in white icing; thick, gooey cinnamon rolls, and, of course, whoopee pies. As soon as the woman had all of her baked goods laid out in the proper order, a large group of my coworkers started lining up at her table to see what she had for sale. More than a few had their wallets already out and ready for action.

I couldn’t help but laugh at the strange site of the plain-dressed, simple-talking Amish woman smack dab in the middle of blue oxford shirt, tan pant, and brown loafer-wearing Corporate America. I’m used to seeing my coworkers rush into the cafeteria to grab a quick coffee or muffin before the next meeting, not running in to buy baked goods, made from scratch, from a Lancaster area Amish woman.

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As I watched the women serve my coworkers, I would’ve killed to be able to read her thoughts. First, I would love to know her impressions on even getting into the building. With no identification badge, she would have needed help from the intercom system and Building Security to even enter the building.

And then, I’m sure she would have had a thought or two on all the people scrolling through their smart phones, reading work emails or whatever else, while they waited in line. Or even her thoughts on the conversation drifting across the cafeteria. Something tells me she’s not up-to-speed on the latest Game of Thrones or Orange Is the New Black story line and would be shocked out of her mind if she was.  

We can guess, but wouldn’t you love to know what she was really thinking? “Yes, it’s a good day, they’re lining up in droves. Come to momma, momma needs a new pair of shoes.” No, no, I can’t imagine that’s what was floating through her mind.

How about? “I saw a TV in the lobby. Do you mind if I turn it on? I really need to catch up on my soaps.” Or what about: “Oh these poor people, do you see the food coming out of that cafeteria? It doesn’t look very appetizing to me.”

No, I suspect her thoughts were elsewhere. She was pleasant and wished everyone who stopped by her table — whether they bought something or not — a good day.

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Who really knows what she was thinking? However, I can tell you my first thoughts seeing the woman and her husband, in their Amish attire, as they unloaded their baked goods: “That could have been me. Thank God it’s not.”

I have a deep love and respect for the Amish, their beliefs, and their simple way of life. I grew up in-and-around lush Amish farmland and am quite familiar with the lifestyle. However, I remain grateful that my mother made a choice as a young teenager decades ago, before I was even a distant thought in her mind, to build a new life for herself and to not join the Amish church.

I love my life. I can’t imagine it any other way.

Plus I’m pretty sure that I wouldn’t look too good wearing the traditional black Amish outfit and straw hat!

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2 thoughts on “Reminders of an Amish road not taken

  1. Barney

    Brian, loved the story, I have visited Amish country several times and now attend a church with strong Mennonite ties. They are good people, salt of the earth

    Liked by 2 people

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