Amidst tales of luxury cruises, Instagrams of sexy nightclubs, and trips to foreign beaches, University of Delaware sophomore Annie Mulkins returned to school this fall eager to share stories of her family’s vacation to an exotic out-of-state grocery.
“It’s just such a breath of fresh air to not go to our regular grocery store. Going to Maryland to buy laundry detergent was a vacation that not only helped us grow as a family, but also let us learn a lot about other cultures and produce aisles,” explained Mulkins’ father.
According to Mulkins, her family’s grueling travel from their home in New Jersey lasted two hours through light-to-moderate traffic before they finally pulled into a coveted front row parking spot of a suburban Maryland Safeway.
“Everything just felt so new and different the moment I stepped into that grocery store, or should I say…market, as these people call it,” Mulkins explained, describing the national grocery chain of Safeway supermarket stores.
Mulkins described the trip as “truly inspiring and eye opening” after getting the opportunity to speak with a native she met outside of the store. In the video Mulkins recorded of that encounter, the resident can be heard saying, “Ma’am, I don’t have a Southern accent. We are in the suburbs of Maryland. I’ve never said y’all in my life,” as Mulkins prods the young man to tell her where the nearest farm is.
“It was really eye opening to be down there in the Deep South,” explained Mulkins, whose family has never been further south than the state of Maryland. “There’s so much history, turmoil, and bacon grease down there below the Mason-Dixon line.”
Mulkins says her family was “pleasantly surprised but slightly disappointed” that there wasn’t a Kentucky Fried Chicken aisle in the grocery store. They were equally pleased to try the traditional Southern meal of shrimp and grits, which Mulkins compared to “those little beady things you find in a new box of shoes”.
“People kept boasting about how they have a lot of crabs in Maryland, and I kept telling them that’s something that should be kept between the doctor and the patient. But I guess that’s just what Southern hospitality is all about…” said Mulkins.
Remarking she was surprised a whole section of the country “which is basically in the middle of bumblefuck nowhere” could possibly have cell phone towers or Wi-Fi connections in their grocery stores, Mulkins did her best to contribute to local charities as well.
“This poor little girl was trying to sell us Girl Scout Cookies, which I’m sure had been deep fried before they packaged them,” remarked Mulkins. “Of course I bought some though, because everyone knows all money donated to charity organizations in the South goes to the abolition of segregation, or whatever, right?”
Mulkins’ favorite part of her vacation was her cavalier attempt to keep an eye out for “that Jim Crow guy they kept mentioning in our history books,” during her family’s stay in a Maryland suburb known specifically for its racially diverse residents and low crime rate.
Mulkins said her trip turned out to be everything she had hoped for. “I may have slept through the first part of Gone With The Wind, but once I woke up, I knew I just had to take a vacation down South.”