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My first visit to the USA

I recently visited the United States of America. For as long as I’ve held opinions on anything, I’ve said that US was somewhere I would be quite happy if I never visit. I now have to amend that statement. The US is somewhere I would be happiest if I never visited again.

I’m not really feeling very literate today, so I’m just going to make an ad-hoc list of points which come into my head:

  • As soon as you make land-fall in the country the state assails you
  • Conspicuous consumption at a scale I’ve never seen before
  • A tendency for large products, made from expensive materials, but made poorly
  • Service staff skitter around like frightened bunnies, keen to help, but completely incapable of doing so
  • For an Englishman, the culture of tipping felt so awkward as to make me reticent
  • The programmes on their TV had me chuckling for hours
  • Their cars aren’t just big, they are designed to look big
  • The stereotypes of the average American have not been washed away
  • Despite being in ‘hippy’ California, and despite assurances from various Americans, it was not easy to find vegetarian food
  • Perhaps related to the last point, at no point did I find good food

I might add to this list as the visit comes back to me.

I should add the caveat that I did meet some wonderful and lovely people. People who were interesting, intelligent, witty and worthy of my admiration and respect. However, the ‘nature’ of these people did not seem to be represented in the media, the culture, the shops or the infrastructure.

Posted on 04 Dec 2008

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