The town that set out to be sincere—2a
There is a popular story that Albeit’s citizens like to tell those around them. It goes something like this. In 2006, according to an observer’s blog, a man from out of town—Chicago, most people say—walked up to an Albeit resident and asked where the nearest McDonald’s was.
“McDonalds,” the man said. “Sir, I’m assuming you’re from out of town?”
“I am,” the Chicago resident said.
“You can eat McDonalds any day that you want. But you’re in Albeit now, and my advice is that you avoid McDonalds like the plague. It’s not the local thing to do.”
He then steered the man towards Kino’s, a popular theatre-and-dinner restaurant in Spengler. Rumor has it that the man enjoyed his meal so much that he moved to Albeit a few years later. At the least, he enjoyed his meal enough to put the restaurant on the map.
“The local thing” is an important part of Albeit’s terminology, right along with “the outside thing.” For most residents, shopping at malls in an outside thing; knocking on a neighbor’s door and offering to sell a potted plant is a local thing. Watching basketball or football on TV is an outside thing; kicking back with a drink to a good game of Alball or Mensch is a local thing. Joining a glass-skyscraper corporation is an outside thing; teaming up with a group of friends to sell romantic paintings in the middle of an intersection… local, to the core.
Every so often, someone criticizes an Albeitian for being elitist and “rejecting” the world that surrounds them. This is rather humorous, as most of Albeit’s residents live rather close to the poverty line and wouldn’t be caught dead at a country club—let alone an IKEA.
To be fair, there are plenty of citizens here that love the selection at McDonalds, follow the NFL as closely as they would their child and have a cubicle for a second home. But just as Bavaria is known for its lederhosen and France for its berets, so Albeit is judged by its honest critique of the mainstream.
With all this in mind, it’s easy to view Albeit as a group of anti-social, oddball inhabitants. It’s a fallacy that most of the city’s critics fall into. Albeit does not “reject” society; it seeks to become a true society, where individuals are interdependent and love one another. This society might have been created in response to the norm, but given time, it became something greater than the negative image of urban America. Those who put up with Albeit for long enough discover a sense of warmth, excitement and mutuality that melts outside allegations of elitism or indifference.