I drove to San Antonio this morning to pick up my work permit. Yes, I'm now legally allowed to work in the States. yay! The Department of Homeland Security office that houses immigration issues is about an hour or so away from Austin, which gave me plenty of time to reflect on working again and that's when I started thinking about Vancouver and the ubiquity of Starbucks and language schools downtown.
I used to live in Downtown Vancouver, close enough to work that I could walk every day (about 16 blocks.) It was a perfect diagonal to get there, so some days I would walk up 8 blocks and across 8 blocks, other days I would zigzag my way through the downtown core. No matter what route I took, on average there was a Starbucks every two blocks. I'm not even close to kidding. Every two blocks. There was also a plethora of English language schools. They were a little further apart, but on average, every 3 blocks. I used to joke with my pals that I'd love to see a map of downtown with all the Starbucks and language schools marked out. I really don't think that people realized just how many of each existed.
The drive to San Antonio revealed that Texas has an equal in this respect. The scale is slightly bigger, just less than 70 miles as opposed to 16 blocks, but there are 2 kinds of shops that appear with amazing frequency between the two cities. One kind is the fireworks megaplex with 20 foot signs reading "fireworks! here! now!" The other? The Adult video megaplex. "XXX! Here! Now!" They're both housed in similar buildings, steel warehouses with no windows and they're HUGE. I never knew there was such a need for fireworks and porn on the highway. Go figure.