New York Times foreign correspondent Thomas Fuller, who's spent the last 27 years living abroad primarily in Asia, has moved back to States, to the San Francisco of 2016 that we inhabit, and his perspective is like that of someone who just stepped out of a time machine.
He penned a piece for this weekend's Sunday Magazine, titled "What San Francisco Says About America," and instead of describing how San Francisco is particularly awful with its "ganja yoga" and Tesla-filled streets and pervasive homelessness, he sees the city as a microcosm of where the country has landed in the middle of this second decade of the new millennium.
A few outtakes:
I spend hours in supermarket aisles. Organic ice cream sandwiches! Vegan shoes! A “Bluetooth compatible” electric toothbrush!
The America of 2016 is so much more specialized than the one I left in 1988. It almost seems that we have created needs so that we can cater to them.
Everyone keeps offering me credit in America. I drove away from a dealer with a brand-new $30,000 car without handing over a penny. It was so thrilling that I keep repeating this routine.
It seems a terrible statement about my home country that my children will encounter homelessness and mental illness much more vividly in the wealthiest nation in the world than they did in Thailand, where we previously lived.
I stood in the checkout line and watched milk-fed Americans unloading their carts onto the conveyor belt. My mind flashed back to the diminutive workers in a factory I visited in Tianjin, China, who for a few hundred dollars a month stitched leather boots and who giggled when they thought about the giant feet that would one day fill them.