More Observations on America

Further ramblings as they come to mind…

  • Continuing on the restroom/toilet theme touched on in my last post, all home and many public bathrooms/restrooms have a plunger sitting by their toilet–which just goes to show that the Australian design is much more efficient because plungers are almost non-existent over here. If I built a house over there, I’d be trying to import an Aussie toilet! 😀
  • Public hand sanitiser units are everywhere you turn but sanitary disposal in female restrooms consists of a small rectangle metal container attached to the cubicle wall and lined with a paper or plastic bag…go figure!!! (I thought that was disgusting.)
  • Their big Christian bookstore is like a Christian store with a book section while ours is a Christian bookstore with additional stock on the side. However, “book” isn’t in their title while the slogan for ours makes it clear that books are the focus. I like Mardel to visit (and for their awesome sale racks–I got heaps of books for $1 and $2.50) but I like Koorong for ‘home’. Plus, ours has a built-in cafe–great to use as a meeting point to catch up with friends. 🙂

  • Speaking of cafes, visiting America has made me realise how much of a “cafe culture” Australia has. It’s really hard to put the difference into words but my sister noticed it too. A lot of socialising centres around meeting for coffee (or more broadly, “a cuppa”). While this does happen in America, in comparison, it takes a huge backseat to just eating out.This is true inside the home and outside the home. I wasn’t ever offered a coffee (forget “cuppa” since the word’s not in their vocabulary–or tea, seeing as they don’t drink it hot, particularly in the South) upon arriving at somebody’s house. They just don’t do that. Whereas in Australia, everything occurs over or around a cuppa and it’s one of the first things that’s done in most homes when somebody comes to visit.
  • Further on the cafe/coffee theme, you pretty much have to go to the likes of Starbucks to get anything other than what we would call a long black or flat white. They do have McCafe but it pretty much amounts to an extra menu board or two with half the selection we Australians think is standard–and forget the bakery options!!! Over here, almost anywhere that sells coffee (restaurants, coffee shops, cafes, you name it) will offer you at least half a dozen options, including cappucinos and lattes. Over there, restaurants etc have percolated coffee and that’s it. Some places (eg, Mardel and motels) offer free percolated coffee (even flavoured) which is cool–until you realise there’s no milk!!!!!! They’re big into either creamer (often powdered, gag) or nothing.

A Slew of Observations

This is a random set of observations about America. Some are from this trip; some are from my last. They may not all be true outside Texas or in the northern states.

Things I Like:

  • In-Sink Disposal
  • Peanut Butter-filled pretzels
  • Cheap food prices and all the bonuses like free refills and extra bread/rolls on demand
  • Insanely-low-priced clearance racks of clothes (think $1 or $3 or $7)
  • Dark Chocolate M&Ms
  • Starbucks Java Chip Frappucino ice cream (in the supermarket!)
  • Most motels seem to include a free full breakfast and free wireless internet is very common

Things I Dislike:

  • Public restroom cubicles–often the doors are high off the ground and there's huge gaps between the door and the frame…might as well leave them off altogether!
  • Toilets–imagine sitting on a full bucket of water and you've got the idea.
  • A lot of American chocolate
  • Most of their bread–it's nearly all sweet and they have no idea what multi-grain bread is!!
  • Everything is really spread out over town. Wal*Mart, Target, K-Mart, etc, are not part of the mall–they're individual buildings in totally different areas of town. It takes a lot more running around to get things done.

Just Different:

  • At a supermarket the other night, some guy left his 'truck' running with nobody in it while he went inside!!
  • Aerosol deodorants are close to non-existent here, particularly for women. There was maybe 2 brands with 1-2 scents and that's it. You're left with stick or roll-on. Oh, and the cans were the huge size, too. Weird.
  • If you use your credit card, they don't even check your signature (you usually sign on an electronic pad that they can't even see). One time out of fifty, they might ask to see ID. At Starbucks, you don't even sign at the drive-thru–they just swipe your card and that's it!! It would be soooo simple to use a total stranger's card…no wonder identity fraud is such a big deal!!
  • They have drive-thru banks, pharmacies and Starbucks.
  • America is definitely better in customer service (other than airlines) but Australia is definitely more professional when it comes to point-of-sale–the two countries should share ideas. 🙂

Anyway, that's all for now. I know there's more but I keep forgetting them so I'll start another running list!