Views from the 51st State
Published on September 10, 2003 By _Martin_ In Blogging
My recent trip to the US and subsequent return home has given me reason to reflect on the contrasts between the two.

In summary, I love the US. Sure it has it's faults, but where doesn't. It's not the rose-tinted vacation view that causes this, but interaction with real people. Caveat - I was in Florida so 'real people' is a loose term.

Lets start with the first obvious thing for any Brit abroad - the weather. Whilst there we had sun and rain. When it was nice it was about 90° and when it rained we knew it was coming. In the UK we can't tell from one day to the next what will happen so our plans are screwed. OK, so you say "that's Florida - it ain't so good here!", but wait, you have a choice, you can move to Florida. You may have no desire to move elsewhere in the country and have good reasons for staying and that's great but the choice is yours. In the UK what choice do we have? Well, you can move around to places that suck slightly more or slightly less, but when it comes down to it, the weather is unpredicatable which still sucks!

One thing to comment on is that weather forecasters are still crap in the US. "Aaargh, panic, tropical storm" - translation - "bit more rain that you'd expect, and you may actually perceive that the wind exists" - get a grip guys - try our weather!

Next is the standard of living. Whilst I do not doubt that there is a percentage of US citizens that struggle when comparing like for like, the standard of living in the US in much better. Simply going to the supermarket for groceries will tell you that much (though I really don't see the need for 48 types of milk!) as prices and choice are far better than anything we have over here. Eating out is better too. Not only is everything typically higher quality, you get more and pay less for it. Once I get into the habit of 'boxing' meals it'll be even better value with two meals for one!

What really prompted the title of this Blog is the petrol (gas) prices in the US, or more to the point how the press were whining about how high they were. Gas cost $1.63 / gallon when we were there. In the UK, we pay £0.75 / litre. This equates to £3.41 / gallon which is $5.42. This means that in the US you pay 1/3 of the price we pay for the same gas! Just imagine how much cheaper if your vehicles ran at 30mpg like ours unlike your hulking monstrosities at 15mpg!

Service is something I really appreciate in the US. In the US, people actually care about the service they give. OK, so sometimes it's due to a fact that much of their income is 'tip' based, but I really don't care - it's results that count. Service is good, I tip well, everyone is happy! I'm not just talking about restaurants here, stores are the same. In every store I visited, the staff were genuininely caring and knowledgable about the products they sold. Good service sells!

Actually, where service is concerned I think it's more or a case of how the UK really sucks in terms of service. I often vacation in Thailand. This is definitely the most beutiful country in the world with the most kindly people I have ever met. For all I'd love to speak Thai well, everyone speaks great English which helps and they are most polite when doing so. Every time I return to England I am disgusted at the comparison. I arrive at Heathrow airport and get a coffee. I'm served by someone that barely speaks english, it tastes like muck and I'm charged a fortune for it.

That's it, I've had enough - when's the next plane to the US leave?
on Sep 10, 2003
Martin, one day I will take you on a tour of New York City where English is a foreign language!

Actually your comments made me very appreciative of the U.S. Interesting to see it through your eyes.

Let me offer this perspective. I only know a few Englishmen well and those few through skinning. Bryan Cook, Phillip Powell, Neil Banfield, Kevin Purcell and Tim Dagger and of course you are collectively some of the nicest "blokes" that I have ever had the privilege to meet. Whether this speaks well for the skinning community or for our brethern from "across the pond" is unclear. Regardless, you are all great folks and are welcome to come to the States anytime.

Also, regarding the weather here, please do visit Michigan where it is always sunny and 72 degrees! Except when it snows or is cold as... well, you gt my drift!
on Sep 11, 2003
Or you could try us here in the San Francisco Bay area where we have more micro-climates than people running for replacement governor!