Five American Goods… I don’t mean American goods as in American products that you could buy online or in a store. I am referring to five good American things, to contrast the five bad American things I talked about in my recent 5-4-Friday following my holiday in Orlando. I realise that, in this context, “five American goods” is not proper England, but it seems wholly appropriate, while we are talking about America, with its tendency to borrow, and then butcher, our language.
That said, even though they may struggle to master the tongue we loaned them, and despite the mild and good-natured criticism I levelled at them in that recent blog, there are, in my opinion, certain things that we Brits could learn from our colonial cousins.
Theme parks – Anybody who has been to Blackpool Pleasure Beach or Alton Towers or, God forbid, Gulliver’s World and has also been to Disneyland or Universal Studios or Busch Gardens in The States will know that the Yanks beat us hands down at theme parks. Everything about American theme parks is a thousand per cent better than those in the UK. Even the car parks are miles better. Talking of which…
Car parking – … ah, American car parks! This concept is so simple it is pure genius. Every big car park in America has its car park spaces painted out at a seventy degree angle so that even the most incompetent driver can easily drive in and reverse out without pranging the car next door. The alleys (as they call the bits in between the rows of bays) are all designated one-way, aligned to the angle of the parking bays. All well and good, but it doesn’t prevent some half-witted tool from driving the wrong way along the alley. In my defence, however, it was very dark and I was a bit tired after a day in Wet n Wild.
Take-away – Imagine going in to a normal restaurant in the UK (not a fast-food job like Maccy Ds or Kentucky, or a Chinese or an Indian) and asking to look at their take away menu. They would assume you were talking about a doggie-bag for the bits you couldn’t eat. I received similar strange when I asked the question in a couple of restaurants in Orlando because they don’t have a take-away menu; it’s exactly the same as the main one, they just warp stuff up in tin-foil and away you go. There’s no finer feeling after a busy day in the parks to get the I-Ride bus home with a portion of Chilli’s breaded mushrooms, a ten ounce rib-eye, and a chocolate fudge fountain to tuck into.
Paper money – I have no real issue with the one pound coin that we introduced to replace the paper one pound note some years ago. The Yanks have stuck with the dollar bill, though, and I have to say there is something strangely satisfying about spending a good ten minutes rolling enough of them off a wad of bills to have enough to buy a hot dog in Islands of Adventure. I didn’t find them quite as useful in Walmart as no matter how much I scrunched one up and prodded and poked, I simply could not fit one of those dollar bills in the slot to hire a shopping trolley.
Paper towels – Talking of paper. Have you ever struggled in vain to tease a couple of paper towels out of a wall-mounted holders in an English bog because someone hasn’t loaded it properly? Well move to America and you’ll think you’ve died and gone to, well, America. The cheaper establishments have lever-operated dispensers while the posher places, like Hooters, have motion-controlled ones. And if on the very rare occasions that these might fail, the air hand dryers work with the force of Hurricane Katrina. It’s enough to make a bloke start to wash his hands after having a pee.
See you in the gents – Griff