Some observations I would like to share with you, I thought that drivers in Australia were bad, with their fast-lane hogging and tailgating etc, but America is worse. It took me a few days to get used to driving on the other side, many people I know are scared to just start driving on the other side, but I figured if a 100 million Americans can do it, how hard can it be.
Coming back to the driver behavior, in America they hog the fast lane while on their cell phones, tail gate and change lanes by cutting you off without signaling. It’s a bit hair-raising driving there, I am told the driving tests are not as difficult, so I guess that’s what you get when you train the drivers to a low standard. On the plus side they are bit lax with the speed limits over there, there aren’t many police out and about raising revenue like here so I got to enjoy a bit of freedom on the roads.
America is a funny place, when we were in New York we stopped for a bite at Grand Central Station, I observed a couple of bums walking around the place. At first I felt sorry for them and made a mental note to give one of them a few dollars, after we finished our meals we had some left over Mexican something or other so we offered it to one of the passing bums. To my surprise the fellow asked what it was before taking it, he then opened it up and ate a bit of it before discarding it and moving on to the next table. Wow, in America beggars can be choosers. Needless to say I chose not to part with my hard-earned dollars.
Another observation I made was the availability of work, perhaps it was just in Dallas and Kansas City, but almost every store that we went to had a “Help Wanted” sign out the front. I’ve always had the impression that life in America can be very hard, that jobs are not easy to come by and you are pretty much tossed out on the scrap heap if you lose your job. From what I saw, if you want to work and are not picky about the job, there is work there, maybe it’s my overly optimistic outlook. To me if your current location doesn’t have any jobs then pick your ass up and move to where there are jobs.
Cars, food and clothes are also a lot cheaper in America, even housing. I have often heard that Americans can be ignorant of other parts of the world, heard the story about a store owner asking a passing Aussie which state is Australia? That’s understandable as did you know there is a Sidney in New York State? Until you go there, you don’t realize how big the place really is, America is so big you can literally disappear there. You have no need to leave the country, you can spend all your holidays traveling around the country if you like.
The food, the serving portions are much bigger in America, I remember one day when we were at a mall we went to the food court to get a bite. As we were walking around, there was a fellow handing out samples of different flavored grilled chicken on toothpicks. Two pieces of meat stuck to each toothpick and I’m not talking the sugar-cube size we get down under (ok slightly bigger than that), you can measure this in centimeters, at least an inch all round. Perhaps the fellow had poor observation skills or he was being politically correct, but by the time I finished the sampling, I didn’t really have to eat anymore. The pizzas are really nice there and the burgers, oh man I think I should share a picture. Needless to say I couldn’t quite muster the will to take this bad-boy on.
Did I mention the trucks, no not the horse and trailer types, I’m talking about trucks like the Ford F550. Until you see an American truck in person, you don’t know how big they are, the hoods of some trucks are chest-high. I almost fell off the chair when I heard some of them have a 25000 pound towing capacity. Our SUVs like the Toyota Landcruiser are dwarfed by these American trucks, I don’t understand why the eco-tossers are always banging on about the Humvee, that’s just an average sized SUV there.
What I got from America, to sum it up in one word, is that it’s YOU. Make of America what you will, you can make something of yourself or you can stuff it all up. No one is going to come running after you to wipe your ass and hold your hand, you are responsible for you. The working life in America seems a bit harsh to me who gets a certain amount of annual leave and entitlements, but then America didn’t get to Number One by piggy backing off someone else and whinging and carping about what my country owes me.
I think because of this, Americans are very assertive, some mistake this for arrogance but I find it refreshing. If you are in a queue with Americans and someone tries to cut in front, I know us Aussies will say a word or two but because of our laid-back nature we’ll probably let em’ get away with it. Not the Yanks, they will pull you up and tell you to get your ass to the back of the line. Overall the Americans we came across are friendly and helpful people and their patriotism is admirable.
I like Texas, Mark Steyn wrote in his book, something to the effect that if you run into the streets of Texas screaming at motorists “Death to Satan, infidel whores”, chances are, you’ll get your head blown off. He was comparing this to a town in the UK where this actually happened, certain jihadist types were celebrating on the night of 9/11 the victory over the Great Satan, and by the way it was a CIA-Mossad-Jewish conspiracy in the greater crusade against Muslims. We infidels are really stupid aren’t we; we fight a war against our enemies by blowing ourselves to smithereens.
I just can’t get over everything is bigger in Texas, don't mess with Texas and the President George Bush turnpike. I will share one particular bumper sticker I saw, while browsing through a souvenir shop in Dallas, with you, USMC – heaven won’t take us and hell is scared we’ll take over.
America, I hope to return again one day.