Every Wednesday I offer tips for adulthood.
Last Wednesday I posted about five things I love about America, gleaned from my recent trip home. As I looked that post over, however, I realized that in my zeal to express my joy over certain features of my home country, I also forgot to frame them as tips. So allow me to quickly rectify that problem ex-post:
Celebrate our superstores!
Take pleasure in your helpful salesperson!
Smile at a stranger!
I got a lot of positive feedback on that post, for which I’m duly grateful. But fair is fair and – as noted last week – all is not rosy back in the US of A. So, as promised, this week I’m going to post about five things that drove me nuts about my visit back to America and which you should try to avoid when/as/if you go there:
1. Fast Food. As last week’s rant over at PoliticsDaily.com suggests, I was overwhelmed – and appalled – by the quality and quantity of fast food I encountered in the States. It’s everywhere. And the more you stay, the harder it is to avoid. I think I knew I’d hit rock bottom when I began to contemplate the Hawaiian pancakes at IHOP in earnest. I mean seriously, folks. Who can honestly stomach caramel sauce and macadamia nuts over breakfast? As my colleagues over at PoliticsDaily remind us, fast food isn’t just bad from a nutritional, environmental and ethical standpoint. It’s directly linked to our current health care crisis.
2. Driving. My goodness, we did a lot of driving while we were in America. Sure, we took a road trip from New Jersey to Cape Cod and that racked up a lot of miles. But what really struck me was how much driving we did even when we weren’t traveling. Trips to the corner store. Trips to get coffee. Trips to the beach. Everything required a car. Granted, I’m a bit out of practice, given that we’ve now lived in London for three years without a car. I’ve grown used to just walking everywhere, or taking a bus or a subway. And those things aren’t always readily available in suburban America (or a rural peninsula!) But all that driving just makes you feel fat and tired. Yuck.
3. Over-abundance. Another thing that hit me back home was the ridiculously over-sized nature of just about everything there. Breakfast buffets. Televisions. Back yards. One friend I visited had – I kid you not – ten different pairs of running shoes. Ten!! What is up with that?
4. Partisanship. I was also taken aback by the gun-toting partisanship that has overtaken my country. I mean sure, I’d seen the town hall coverage on TV and the Internet. But I wasn’t prepared to take it on personally. At one point, my mother and I were having breakfast in a diner and began chatting with our neighbors at the next table. Somehow, the topic of health care reform came up, at which point my mother and I defended the public option as just that: an option. The other couple countered that, in their opinion, the “rest of us” shouldn’t be subsidizing the health care of the poor. Fair enough. But the next thing I knew, the husband of said couple allowed that if he ever saw the President in person, he’d shoot him. Whoops! As my mother and I beat a hasty exit towards the door, the wife ventured that she’d also like to talk about abortion. Um…taxi?
5. Starbucks. Ok, I drank it every single day I was there. Sometimes twice. (Finding good coffee on the Cape is surprisingly difficult. Where are all those shrinks buying their coffee?) And I know the company has fallen on hard times. But if I never hear the words “dopio macchiato” again, I’ll be all the happier. See #1.
Image: Gotta Love Starbucks by She Watched The Sky via Flickr under a Creative Commons license.