Returning to the U.S. I become, in the name of "stocking up," a crazed consumer. Things are so cheap here! I spend a lot of time in Target, Safeway, Starbucks, Whole Foods, the toy store, etc. And as I eavesdrop on conversations in the name of research, I hear a lot of status anxiety. No one NEEDS to talk loudly about their new car or vacation in Cabo while in line at the register. Coming from a place where status anxiety is all out in the open, displayed through designer handbags and Prada loafers, I was surprised to find status anxiety all over the place here, in every casual conversation. People don’t seem to know how to behave towards others, especially towards clerks and salespeople. My knee jerk theory is that in Korea, status is all out in the open, and interactions are guided by status designations -- titles, verb endings, gestures, even the display of emotion. But in the U.S. everybody is suppoedly equal, and we're not used to dealing with strangers, and no one gives you props for being ... whatever you are. So I go to Target and see people (especially women) fighting over the crumbs of status, trying to get some recognition, trying to subtely and perhaps subconciously one-up the poor woman at the cash register and the other standing in line.