Sunday, 21 August 2016

Observations of America - Part 1

Jude & I have come to the a United States for a few weeks, as part of my Sabbatical. Having been here for a few days now, I thought I'd reflect briefly on things I'd noticed about life here, compared to life in Britain.

1. It's a cliché, but everything seems so much bigger here. The roads are wider, the portions are larger (and, as a consequence, the girths seem to be too), and our hotel room in Washington is HUGE!

2. Life seems geared around cars rather than pedestrians. In the parts of Richmond where we were staying, sidewalks seemed absent, and trying to cross a 6- or 8-lane highway was interesting to say the least!

3. For those without a car, buses are a reasonably cheap way to travel, but as white folk we stood out on the buses.

4. Tipping is expected, and is assumed to be a means of providing a living wage for many in the service sector. 18% seems to be the norm, but part of me wonders why they don't just increase the minimum wage. And if a discretionary payment becomes almost obligatory it loses its meaning.

5. Taxes seem to be added to most things, and at vastly varying rates. Why can't the price shown be the price charged?

6. Contrary to the myth often heard in the UK, I have not seen many weapons on display: in fact the only one I was aware of was carried by a police officer outside the White House. Maybe it's different in 'open carry' states?

7. And finally (for now): it's HOT! Daytime between 28 and 35 C, and night-time not much below 22 C. And it's humid. When we arrived at our first hotel it was the first time my glasses had misted up stepping outside. AC is great, but the rooms can get a little cold because of it!

More later, when I've had time to experience more of this interesting nation.