Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Things I Won't Miss About the USA, By A British Expat

Disclaimer: article contains wild generalisations and stereotypes.

As I have stated on numerous occasions, I love living in the United States. However, sometimes - and I'm going to be honest here - there are things that, should I ever leave, I won't miss in the least.

Firstly, in the already problematic world of fast food, the idea of free re-fills is one I would happily consign to the list of forgotten memories. It is my viewpoint that they are an incredibly irresponsible part of American consumption, encouraging people of all ages to double - perhaps triple - the already unhealthy amount of pop that is infesting their throats and stomachs.

Come to that, large food portions in general are something I would happily leave behind. Until I moved to this country, I never believed I could eat in greater quantities than I did in the UK. But the admittedly sizable portions of my home country were nothing compared to those on offer at Applebee's or Red Lobster, where you are expected to order salad, in addition to extra bread, a main course, a potential appetizer and a dessert.

I won't miss the needlessly fast pace of life, in which people have to buy the new iPhone this very second, or in which micromanaged deadlines must always be adhered to with the utmost urgency. We are not a nation of robots and sometimes it is well to remember there are stars in the night sky or birds in the trees that require your gaze once in a while.

But on the topic of deadlines, and more specifically jobs, I won't miss living in a so-called "right-to-work state" - in other words, a state where your employer can fire you at will, with no explanation whatsoever. I strongly believe that workers' rights should be exactly that; rights. No person in a country as economically prosperous as the United States should have to worry where his or her next cheque is coming from.

I won't miss the intolerant minority, who vehemently oppose same-sex marriage, women's rights and the idea of an Indian-American woman winning Miss America. While these types certainly exist in, well, any country on the planet, the American version is so vocal.

I won't miss Miss America.

I won't miss ridiculously big pickup trucks and the sight of beaten up cars that still somehow take to the road. Nor will I miss the roads, many of them filled with potholes, mangled tyres and dead raccoon.

I'm going to get killed for this one, but - and I'm sorry - I won't miss contemporary Country music. It seems as if every male singer from this genre bears the same exact voice - the voice of a singer twice his own age, whose lyrics involve said man getting into a fight in some bar to impress some chick whose daddy just died in a truck accident along Route 66.

I won't miss Route 66, because it technically no longer exists.

I won't miss this nation's advertising culture, with corporate billboards along every stretch of road and televised ads appearing every 7 minutes. I won't miss that 25% of these ads are for a different healthcare facility, each one claiming to be the best.

I won't miss money talk. Whatever the occasion, Americans will find a way to talk about money: do you have enough? Why aren't you working a second job? We really need to talk about your student loans. I refer you once more to the stars and the birds.

Did I mention I love living in the United States?

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11 comments:

Anonymous said...

OK the money one was dead on, only culture I know where it is polite to first and foremost ask someone what they do for a living followed by how much do they make, OR when one hears about a new person for the first time their name is generally followed by a laundry list of their, impressive, possessions. I've always found that just a little inappropriate.

Expat mum said...

Do you know, in the 23 years I've lived here I've never heard anyone ask another person how much they make.

Kaley [Y Mucho Más] said...

Actually, as an American, I find it VERY rude to talk about money, so I've never heard it discussed ... in Spain, it's way different, so your experience seems odd to me.

Anonymous said...

OK, on the note of listing money and possessions I have to mention "It's my sister Violet, the one that married the turf accountant, swimming pool, room for a pony". :) And for those that might not know, that's from "Keeping Up Appearances", my most favorite show from across the pond.

Anonymous said...

I agree with all of these points, and would add The Politics and intolerance therein.

Anonymous said...

From Laura: I think that, unless you are a business tycoon, most people (in the US) ask what you do for a living to see if you have any common ground...something to talk about. Or, they might ask, hoping that maybe you are a plumber, and you can give them a great deal on repairing their leaky faucet...haha Maybe the younger generation is different, but I was raised NOT to EVER ask someone how much they make! That is none of my business (pun intended).

Anonymous said...

As an American, and a fellow Hoosier for the record, I can agree with a great many of these observations. Being raised in a state in which country music is, at least in the Anderson/Muncie area (in which I live), seen as a sort of sacred form of expression, I have had more than my fair share of people get downright enraged that I don't share their love of the latest country music star.

Oh, and to the most recent comment above me, all I could think when you mentioned plumbers is a line from Eddie Izzard (the greatest comedian of all time, in my opinion). When imagining the likes of Prince Charles speaking to a working man, "You're a plumber? What on Earth is that?"

Melissa S. said...

I'm with Simon Cowell. I don't understand country music.

Joe Cool said...

The American fast pace culture is changing for the young and really evaporates after the age of 30 because it starts to conflict with quality of life.

Anonymous said...

"All America is an insane asylum." -- Ezra Pound

Anonymous said...

I don't really think that there is a "vocal minority" that is anti-gay marriage, anti-women's rights and anti-Indian American. The only groups that fit that bill would be despised hate groups such as the KKK, neo-Nazi or skinhead groups. If you were referring to the conservative right, well then, welcome to America, where we DO have the right to each vote the way our own conscience leads---you can vote your way, I can vote my way. It is NOT the same as belonging to a hate group. Get educated, and stay that way.

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