I have lived in your wonderful country for some 16 months and have loved (almost) every moment. I have traveled to a dozen or so states and seen beautiful things at every turn. I have enjoyed your friendly and welcoming personalities, your large serving sizes, your penchant for BBQ, your ridiculously cheap gym fees, Snapple, and 24-hour green grocers (because who’s never wanted grapes at 3:30 am?). However, there are some things that continue to baffle and confuse me. And I’m not talking about tipping, your bizarre medical television commercials that tell you that you could die from taking whatever pill or potion they are selling, or your insistence on combining fried chicken with waffles. I suspect those things are just too ingrained in the American way of life to change. These though? These six things we can work on.
Look, it’s nice that you’re concerned for the well-being of my lone single-serving of Greek yogurt and apple, but there is no need to put them in two plastic bags. There is no fair or reasonable rationale that can be used to explain this. Or how about when I go and get a burger and fries from the restaurant across the street and not only do I get two cardboard containers, but they are placed in a paper bag, which in turn is placed in a plastic carry bag. Enough!
Can somebody explain how in today’s technologically-advanced world not everyone has cottoned on to direct debit? Receiving an actual real pay check in the mail is wonderful and all, but it would be a lot more convenient if wages just automatically appeared in my bank account on payday. And why on Earth do I have to pay so many fees just to send my monthly rent? It does not cost $5 in “processing fees.”
Look, there comes a point when you just have to admit that you’re lying to people. That chocolate bar does not cost ninety-nine cents; it costs a dollar and seventeen cents. Don’t bother trying to figure out your spare change before you get to the counter because it will inevitably be more expensive than the sticker actually says and you’ll end up with just more change rustling around the bottom of your jean pockets. Why isn’t this mysterious tax included in the price as it says on the shelf? It’s lunacy!
Fish and Chips
Ask the Brits. Or the Australians. Or basically anyone from the Commonwealth nation because America is not doing them right. There are a handful of shops that do (such as A Salt and Battery in New York’s West Village) and for those my antipodean friends and I thank you. The rest need to get the recipe for batter from somewhere in England and make it pronto.
I can’t make heads or tails or why a country as obsessed with hamburgers as America is (this is indeed a positive; please never change that) hasn’t figured out a way to get In-N-Out Burger beyond the south-western states. It’s a travesty is what it is and is a failure of everything movies and television and scientific research into obesity levels have taught me are the foundations of this great land.
The Oxford Comma
I have accepted most of America’s grammatical and spelling differences (the letters z and u are very popular), but my ability to just drop the oxford comma from anything I write for American publications makes me twitch. Despite making sentences look aesthetically more pleasing, they also save lives. And unless you want your friends to think you’re inviting two strippers named JFK and Stalin, you’d be best to use an oxford comma. But don’t feel compelled to place one in a plastic bag.