A Limey in the States

Lee Craven All, Family, Life, Work 0 Comments

Welcome to the USA

I’ll never forget the first time I landed in America, it was in Atlanta, Georgia, although I didn’t have time to sight see, I did have time to pop outside for a smoke. It was no different than what I had seen on TV, the first thing that blew my mind was the big vehicles, it was like every damn family coming to pick up loved ones, drove limousines and tour buses, later I learned that they were merely SUV’s (Sport Utility Vehicle, go figure).

I had a 4 hour layover anyway before my connecting flight to Phoenix, AZ so being a typical Brit, I finished my fag and headed straight to the pub inside the Airport, ordered a beer or two and sat wondering why every single screen in the place had football or basketball or baseball on it, and everyone was glued to the screens, and not really talking.

Then this Hispanic guy rolls up, he’s rocking this 40-gallon capacity cowboy hat, a perfectly trimmed flavor saver, a 7lb medallion around his neck, his shirt is loosely open showing his chest rug and he’s 3 buttons undone rocking a pair of wranglers with a belt buckle that I could serve food off followed by razor blade creases in the front all whilst rocking some snake skin boots with a modest 95 degree curl on the front that looked like some elf status or something. I approached him after I was several beers in, and asked him if he was flying to a party/fancy dress, he showered me with jibberish, but then spoke to me in English and asked what my problem was… I just met a real cowboy. He laughed it off (idiot Limey) and we had many more drinks together discussing culture, we both missed our connecting flights and like catching a bus in England, I was on the next connecting flight within 60 mins, I sat down, put on my seat belt and dozed off, only to be rudely woken by a frowning flight attendant ‘Sir we are in Phoneix’ – NICE!

Let me tell you about Phoenix, Arizona – It’s fucking hot, to the point that your lungs burn when you breathe in, especially for someone not so used to the heat. Having to open your window when driving to ‘warm up’ is just not normal (at least not at first). You think that 10-hour sleep you just got will have you ready for the day? Think again, within just a few hours of being outside, the heat has drained every last drop of energy from your body, nap time, again. Think of being an infant again, napping every 2-3 hours to regain some momentum to run to the shop and grab a 64oz (YES, that big, Murica’) for a buck (around 80p) at 7-11 (the shop as we would call it).

Almost everyone here owns blinding white perfectly straight teeth for the most part and they enjoy showing off their perfect smile.

Food

Food portions at the local pub or restaurant were enough to feed my entire family back home, just one serving, and the crazy part is, the food was cheap, you could find fast food on every corner of every major intersection almost, yes multiple franchises at once all competing with one another.

Tips

You tip for almost everything, (generally staff make very low hourly rates, and their main source of income is from tips) – one thing you will notice is that most of the time, they become super nice when they bring your cheque (Yes I write in American English, but this is the only way I spell a damn paper payment, check… NO!) I also accept PayPal donations for writing this article! In America, you can have just about anything you want providing you pay for it and tip.

 

6 months in

Already pissed off repeating myself to people everywhere I go, simply because they ‘Love how I say things’ – it was fun at first, but shit this became increasingly annoying, I think I developed a stutter from it. I still wasn’t used to the cars, and especially not the 6 lane regular roads, they were like motorways still, and these are the American equivalent of our 2-way roads back home.

Driving to work, going 5-25 miles one way was the norm ( I personally drive 30-80 miles one way now depending on where I’m working any given day), at first it was confusing and worrisome, but to be honest, a few weeks in and I was learning the street names. A crazy statistic for the Valley of the Sun (Phoenix and it’s surrounding metropolitan area) is that it’s a staggering 9,071 mi² – When I first moved here there were roughly 3.2 million people residing here, now in 2017 an estimated 4.7 million, the 5th largest city in the United States.

Entertainment

I noticed just about every TV provider (no license needed for TV) have at least 200 channels for the basic package, get the DVR and you will have 600-800 channels… I also don’t like discussing my internet/cable provider with anyone back home, it’s called Cox Communications.

The pubs here are all the same, I’ll admit, I prefer the dive bars. Most of the time you need to find a designated driver because they are many miles apart, if not, don’t consider drinking and driving, the cops here don’t pull you over just because you have a spoiler on your ride or you look fishy, they pull anyone over that they want, and they carry a pistol and a Taser on their belt along with some cuffs and pepper spray.

They swear on the television no matter the time of day, you can watch an R-rated film/show at any given time, and the commercials literally slander their competition, BY NAME! haha – this always amused me.

Electronics are dirt cheap, and it’s not uncommon to find them in grocery stores and corner shops, and the same goes for clothing.

Sport

American Football, Baseball, Hockey, Basketball, Soccer and even Rugby – you name it, it’s actually fucking amazing to go watch, they really do take their sports seriously, no segregated crowds, very deep patriotism, attention to detail and cleanliness are the things that stood out the most to me, and of course, can’t forget shitty light beers that will run you $8 for a plastic pint worth. On that note, too many people here drink and enjoy ‘Bud Light’ – GROSS!

Work

This one is big, like total life changer in the form of hitting a wall, running. We rarely take time off work! I always see people on Facebook talking about taking time off work, or it’s a holiday etc, I get at the most, 5-6 days a year and even then, they aren’t all paid.

It’s been the norm for me to work 60-100 hours every week for months on end, thankfully that’s not the case for me now, but I have worked several weeks in the past 12 months netting 85-95 hours, there are no shortages of work in the states, that’s for damn sure, even when the economy collapsed, this valley anyhow never sleeps.

Yes we pay for healthcare, and it takes a large chunk of our income (if we actually have insurance: medical, dental, vision are the norm offers) – it’s beyond expensive, but when we need an MRI or want to see a specialist, we don’t need to wait 6 to 18 months, we are normally seen the same week.

If we overpay on taxes we get money back every Feb-March after filing taxes, my normal returns are anywhere from $4000 – $6000 every year, which is nice, especially after Christmas, it allows us to pay down some debt if we have it, or treat ourselves selfishly, or if you’re smart, you invest it.

America really is the land of the free, you can do anything you desire career wise, and if you have half an ounce of drive and commitment, you can literally own your own business and be successful, no matter what it is. ( This has to be the one thing I like more than anything else here).

Arizona is a right to work state, you can be fired at any given moment without reason, and you aren’t legally entitled to a lunch break, although I’m yet to know of a company that doesn’t give you a 30 min lunch break).

Companies are insanely safety conscious, it annoyed me at first, but now I even consider myself a safety nutcase.

Americans

They don’t care if they are 450lbs with a multi-colored mohawk and a pair of spandex pants, and nobody else cares either, I’ve noticed, for the most part, Americans accept their society for who they are.

Here in Arizona, carrying a .40 caliber hand cannon on the belt of your jeans or hidden away in your chest holster is the total norm, nobody takes a second look unless they are from out of state, even the 85-year-old Cowboys still rock the 6 shooters. I love it, and of course, I don’t go anywhere without my pistol. And it’s perfectly normal to own a myriad of firearms, not only for personal protection but because shooting is fucking fun, period and many consider it a serious hobby!They like to brag, and it’s the norm.

They like to brag, and it’s the norm, get used to it, and join in if you feel enthusiastic, also no American I have met to date can correctly say ‘Water, Twat’ to name a few and they spell things incorrectly; ‘Aluminum, Color’ are a few obvious examples – I always throw the usual at them, we invented the English language, you’re doing it wrong and spelling it wrong.

They love flavored coffee, iced tea and they love to dip their chips (fries) in just about anything.

Americans are loud, although I was always mocked for muttering, I’ve now joined the crowd, I speak with at least a little bit of volume.

They don’t do things half-assed, if you or a friend are hosting a BBQ, then it’s gonna get loud, music will jam and by fuck, there will be a lot of drinks consumed. In England, we used to start drinking often at noon, in the states, it’s common to start around 1630-1800 normally and rock out until 0330, bars close at 0200…

Most Americans love to work out, regardless of their weight, they just love fitness, and the bigger folk still rock the same clothing as the toned and muscular crowd, I’ll discuss no more on that.

Going grocery shopping, there are those that create a list and buy nothing more, and there are those that just walk isle to isle making shit up as they throw shit in their trolleys and then there are those that ‘only buy what they can carry without a trolley or basket’ – true story, no in-betweeners.

As patriotic as America is as a whole, I was shocked by how much people feel stay connected with their home state specifically—and how much they like to shit on other parts of the country, regardless of where they reside, I’ve never experienced pride quite like this, and nobody takes offence to it.

Americans also consider a building that’s say 50 years old to be a very old, needs to be knocked down and replaced type of building haha.

Racism is unfortunately still huge, everyone blames a different race for different problems.

Religion is the norm, I’m atheist myself, but most people talks about church on Sunday, their religion, and faith etc, it doesn’t bother or offend me, but Americans are the proud religious type.

They drive everywhere, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve said ‘Let’s walk here’ – and they will respond with ‘fuck that, let’s take my car’ – they really are lazy with such things, compared to Europeans anyhow. Not to mention a taxi ride is costly, public transport is available but a royal pain in the ass. I can’t tell you the last time I rode a bus, not since 2012 when I visited home.

They like to freeze bread, and it’s expensive, as is fruit and veg, but pop you can buy for dirt cheap, same as everything else that’s unhealthy.

Americans, for the most part, do not get British Humor or sarcasm, you always find someone staring with a straight face or you need to explain it to them until they get to know you, then they fail to try to return the humor, which in itself can be funny. They always suck at trying to imitate your accent and will ALWAYS ask you to do your best American accent for them, then ask you ‘Do you think I have an accent’ – and unless they are from the south or back east or California, the answer is mostly alway no.

They have major respect for veterans and service members, period. Schools are a serious gig too, as are the athletic side of school, completely different than back home, this is a post in and of itself to write about. If you ever visit the states, try going and checking out a high school and the sports after schools out, it’s not uncommon for the kids to be at school by 0600 and getting home at 1800-2000 because of sports, they have long days!

They are happy to tell you that you fucked up, or anyone for that fact. They are happy to sue people when they feel it’s justified or not. And most of all, they are proud to be American, and the flags on the homes, businesses etc is totally normal! And their is no shame in that, whatsoever.

Finally, let’s wrap this up

Do I miss home? I do miss certain aspects of it, I miss my family immensely, I miss certain cultural things, but I will admit, I love this country too, many Americans bitch and complain about the states, and how shitty it is, but I honestly think it’s still a very free country, you can do anything you put your heart to, you can own a nice home and car for little money, you don’t have to hide all your favorite ornaments and best plants in the back garden, shit – most American homes don’t even have a wall/fence or bush around the front of the house, people just simply respect others property, and most of all, everywhere is clean and well kept, graffiti is a rare sight and if you see it today, chances are it will be gone in a month. People are friendly and kind and very supportive of one another, regardless of how well they know one another, I do consider this my home for the foreseeable future.

I could probably write about the states as a weekly blog post, but there’s no need, you need to visit to experience it, and I don’t mean the popular tourist places, I mean the non-tourist places, Vegas is only 5 hours away, as is California, but in all fairness I can only handle Vegas for a few days at the most, it’s a filthy place full of shady folk on the strip, California is expensive and will make you soft over time, but I could happily move there if I could afford to, it’s just too expensive and has way too many restrictions compared to the rest of the USA.

Lee Craven – clearly a tormented man, born and raised in Leeds, England blindly chasing the American dream. Attempting to keep up with technology and gadgets. A commercial demolition operator by day, professional procrastinator by night although when able dabbles in a little programming, web design and photography.

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