We all know it’s true. But sometimes it’s good to be reminded that it can be worse. And not in a there-are-so-many-starving-people-in-Africa abstract kind of way. But through the experiences of people you know, who are just like you.

My friend and former Daily Texan colleague, S.S., works in Kabul. A former Army officer, he now works in a civilian capacity trying to get Afghanistan on its feet. It’s not easy work and it’s not an easy place in which to live.  On his leaves, he usually flies through Dubai, which has been great. I’ve enjoyed reconnecting with an old college friend from (cough, cough) years ago. With both of us living sort of itinerant lives, it’s a bit like college again, coming and going, and talking about what we’re going to do with our careers when we grow up and move back to the United States.

He’s visiting again today and we decided to cook at home and just kind of hang out before his cross-global flight. So we went to the grocery store. Pretty boring stuff. But the look on his face said a lot. He literally marveled at the selection: fresh produce, an entire aisle of cereal, caffeine-free Diet Coke. “You might be able to get Diet Coke, but never ‘Caffeine-free’ Diet Coke,” he said.

In Kabul, there is no Waitrose. You eat what you can get. And I’m sure that he and his colleagues eat better than Afghanis do. I’ll have to keep his excitement in mind the next time I bite into a tasteless tomato or have to pay twice as much for pasta as I would in the West.

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