Thursday, July 23, 2015

10 more random observations on life in the US

1. Every time you say thank you for something, it has to be acknowledged with an overly enthusiastic "you're welcome!" or a non-committal "mmhmm".  It makes me overly conscious of how often I say thank you. 

And they really do say "have a nice day" - there's even a whole Wikipedia page on how this developed!.

It's chocolate-dipped bacon, before you ask...

2.  Chocolate-dipped bacon is a thing here.  It's kind of nice, in a weirdly crispy salty bacon-y sweet soft chocolate-y way...

3.  You can't buy alcohol in supermarkets.  Which means you have to make a separate visit first to the state-owned wine / spirits shop and then to the beer shop (where you can only buy the minimum of a case of beer).  Sometimes I miss the convenience of Tesco!  PA apparently has some of the strictest alcohol rules in the USA.  This seems to have changed very recently, and suddenly "beer cafes" are cropping up in supermarkets where you can buy small amounts of alcohol.   

4.  What the heck's a "biscuit"?  Still can't get a straight answer on this one.  Not a biscuit as the British know it (obviously that's a cookie), but seems to be somewhere between a bread roll and a (savoury?) scone.  Regularly served with fried chicken meal deals, along with gravy. 
No idea why.

5. True story - me, in [popular sandwich franchise], having ordered my chicken & bacon flatbread:  "And could I have some ranch sauce with that, please?"
Blank look from server: "Ranch?"
Me:  "yes please"
Server:  "Ranch?  I don't know what you mean - what is that?"
Me:  "the green one" (helpfully pointing)
Server (loudly):  "oh, you mean raaaayyyyanch!  Didn't understand your accent there!"

6.  Yard work is a full-time, year-round activity.  At any given point during the day, at least one of our neighbours (or their designated gardening contractor) is out doing "yard work".  If they're not mowing the grass in the spring / summer, then they're hovering up the leaves with their leaf vacuum / blower in the autumn, or they're clearing snow with their snow blower in the winter.  (Hubby is desperate to buy a sit-on mower, but luckily the landlord is responsible for cutting the grass...)  Lawns are closely manicured, beds are deeply mulched, shrubbery is trimmed and paths are swept to within an inch of their lives - sometimes it reminds me of the "Mr Fussy" Mr Men book where he combs the grass straight!

7.  Yard sales are big here - the US equivalent of boot sales, but where you sell your stuff from your own front garden.  Devoted yard sales fans are known to get up at the crack of dawn and scour local neighbourhoods for good sales, often diving into people's garages as they're trying to set up (much like they dive into your car in the UK when you're trying to set up at a boot sale).

8.  Drug adverts prevail here - and they're quite different from the UK.  They often openly compare their drug's benefits against named competitors, and they all advocate that you take their wonder drug but to be aware of...  (cue long list of random possible side effects, including death).  In magazines, they're often 2-3 pages long.  Oh - and they usually include a reminder not to take the drug if you're allergic to it... (but how do you know?)

9.  "Slated" in newspaper headlines means "scheduled" - this confused me at first, and I thought the reporters were being a little harsh...

* plus 6c
10.  VAT is added at the till - which means the ticket price isn't the final price you'll pay.  This caught me out a few times at the beginning (especially in the dollar store), but now you just get used to the fact that 6% is added on to your final bill.  (And you get better at your six times tables).

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