USA musings today
I love living in America, but the weather sucks right now. It doesn’t matter what country you are in, if the weather is effing miserable and grey, it’s just plain crappy. Come on East Coast America, find me a glimpse of sunshine – I’m desperate!
Anyway, someone asked me if there are little things that get my goat about ‘America’ (in general). Not really. But there are some little things that I think of now and then, that I’m like: ‘Oh, I don’t get it.’
This is the list of some of those things….
1. Ravens vs Roast. On a Sunday in the UK, we’ll pretty have our entire Sunday afternoon taken up by a roast dinner and walking or drinking in the pub. Here, the Sunday afternoons are taken up by watching American football – especially near Baltimore for the Ravens’ fans. Nothing else matters, and nothing else will do. There must be no other social engagements because the football takes precedence (at least that’s how it appears 😉 ). Sure, in the UK, footie is equally as important (it’s just that the British fan will have his roast on his knee in front of the telly whilst watching the Spurs match 😉 ). American football here still bemuses me.
2. Walking. In the UK we go for walks for pleasure, to see a bit of the countryside or coast in yer wellies. I’m not so sure this is a past-time here. Exercise, yes – I see people walking for exercise, but not necessarily pleasure (although I am sure there are those that do). In the UK we walk and say ‘good morning/afternoon’ and wotnot and nod in a gentlemanly/ladylike way, admiring each other for taking a pleasurable walk. Here, people seem to be checking their heart rate monitors.
3. Healthcare. Sigh. It’s been nearly 18 months and the USA healthcare system still baffles me. When I phone up the docs they seem to want my entire life details: insurance number, mother’s maiden name, blood type, star sign, first pet’s name and if I take cream in my coffee. Well, not quite, but that’s what it feels like. And the constant referrals – Specialist Doc So and So for this that and the other. I just want to speak to one person and have them help me, please. I am so used to the UK system – this private medical stuff confuses my poor British head!
I read a couple of articles about Americans experiencing British healthcare recently, which I think are pretty ace:
a) By Lt. Col. Robert Bateman is an infantryman, historian and prolific writer, who is just finishing up his posting in the UK:
‘Health. They (the UK) have something here called the National Health System (NHS). I can only speak to my own observations. My wife was pregnant, and her first appointment with her midwife was AT OUR HOUSE, for TWO HOURS. Throughout her pregnancy, midwives answered my wife’s questions, soothed her concerns, gave her advice, and medically monitored her general situation. When she went into labor, and we went to bring our daughter into the world, they were there again for a low-risk, natural delivery in the hospital during which we received all-around excellent care. After the birth, my wife’s (by now, very trusted) primary midwife visited our home four times in the first ten days, just to make sure we were getting on alright, breastfeeding was going well, etc. Total cost to us: $0.’
Yes, I remember it well. It was BRILLIANT what the NHS did in the UK when I had Harry. Fact.
b) Shameless actress Emmy Rossum said on U.S. telly this week how she became ill in the UK and was given free healthcare. She said she got ‘amazing’ treatment from the NHS and claimed that ‘the hospitals are amazing there’. Top banana 🙂
My British friend recently told me a very funny story about his experience of American healthcare where he was referred to three doctors who couldn’t diagnose him, then he got a referral via one doctor to her very own husband, whose office he attended for a diagnosis and was made to sit in a chair with wrist restraints attached to it…..Weeks later the diagnosis was revealed to him and his wife on his answering machine message at home. The message stated that he totally and conclusively had a ‘disease of the face’. He didn’t – he had a dry sinus infection. Now, however, we always ask him how his ‘disease of the face’ is 😉
4. Social studies at school. My British friend as a ten-year old who has just arrived in the USA and is taking it all as a newbie in school. He’s a little more advanced in some areas, and, of course, it’s all very, very different – the way things are taught and what’s taught. Especially social studies. He told me that he has to sit through various stories of 1812 and the War of Independence, where the teachers single him out as ‘the Brit’ (baddy). He’s being very positive about learning something new and he’s trying to catch up on American history and the whole culture attached to it, but he’s more au fait (naturally) with Alfred the Great, Henry’s six wives and the poets of WW1. He did get told that he could choose if he wanted to make the Pledge of Allegiance in class. He chose not to.
Three things that made me smile yesterday in America-land
1. 1066. Yesterday when I bought something in a store it came to $10.66.
‘That’ll be $10.66, please,’ said the checkout girl.
‘A very important year!’ I said, then felt a bit embarrassed and passed her my card.
She looked bemused – and rightly so.
2. 24 hour clock. My clocks and phone are on 24 hour time. Or, as my American friend noted: ‘You read the time military style.’ 😉
3. Male role models. I have noticed recently, in all the child care places that I take Harry, what a great bunch of older kids there are looking after them – especially the young, black, male kids. What a fantastic bunch they are – inspiring, polite, talented, friendly. Such great role models. Respect to them 🙂