As many of you may know, I travel a lot.  At least one of my major trips each year takes me to the USA.  One of my favourite places to visit is San Francisco (I am there now).

I will blog more about some of the ideas I mention below, but wanted to make a quick post about my observations about America (and by that I mean USA), Americans.

My observations (in no particular order) are:  

  • They sure do say “You’re welcome” a lot.
  • The alternative less formal thing to say to replace the above is “a ha”.
  • Service is often plastic and nice, but plastic and nice beats real and rude any day
  • Service levels vary HEAPS.
  • I don’t get the tipping thing.  No wait, I DO get it, I just think it’s not balanced right.  A doorman at a good hotel is paid $US 100,000+ a year.  That just doesn’t sit right with me.  On a lesser level the barman in a busy bar earns more on most Saturday nights than I do in a week!
  • Most things are about on par with prices in NZ EXCEPT label clothing (much cheaper in the US).
  • Pre-pay mobile sim cards are hard to fine (try t-mobile) and pre-pay data even harder (but lots of free wi-fi).  Try verzon wireless – but be prepared to pay, and also buy a new data device.
  • Serving sizes are just silly (you know, only three sizes in the US: huge, large and enormous).
  • It’s near impossible to find good coffee.  Finding OK coffee is now possible though (that’s an improvement).
  • In San Francisco there is dog shit EVERYWHERE on the pavement even in nice suburbs.
  • People take dogs into shops in California a lot (esp San Diego).
  • Even drunk people are polite (well most of them) far more so than NZ/OZ.
  • American’s LOVE accents.  I only clicked to this in the last few years.
  • The cities on both coasts (east and west) have more “normal” people than the middle does (huge generalisation but true!).
  • Even in the big cities there are still people that just don’t get stuff.  They are not red necks, but don’t understand for example why someone would travel to another country.  These people are (generally) not dumb, just ignorant of the world me thinks.
  • Getting food that’s gluten/lactose/caffeine or nut free is easy.  Getting a plate of food that isn’t fives times the size it needs to be, and laden with 2 pounds of extra dressing is hard (but the size thing varies massively too)
  • Less people in San Fran are fat that you would think (based on observation of down town San Francisco and downtown Auckland, I would say less in San Fran).  But the fatties in San Fran are WAY fat.  And generally from a lower socio demographic
  • Something about the water REALLY aggravates my skin here, but only at night.  Well I think it’s the water (either than or it’s the air).  Someone suggested it might be what the washing powder they use to wash sheets in.  Either way my skin doesn’t like it!  I thought I was crazy until another kiwi said they had the same thing.  Now I know I am not crazy, but I am still itchy!
  • Lots of ads on TV are based on fear (health, debt, insurance, food).  And infomercials here are even worse or funnier, depending on how you view things.
  • On the San Fran cable car, it’s worth letting people go ahead of you in the queue so you can get the best seats (well best standing up position).  IMHO this is the right hand side, at the very front.
  • US airlines have a funny view of what “first class” is (let’s just say it’s not!).
  • It’s fun to watch a shoplifter get caught, they are sure rough with them!

I will add to this list over the next week or so, as well as blog further about a couple of the ideas mentioned above (like tips, and also what items are cheap to show for in the USA).

Black and White Version: While the USA has more in common with NZ than differences, the differences can be both amusing, and at times, scary.

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