Don’t park on the wrong side of the road
Oooh, us Brits do get in wrong in America-land sometimes.
Like parking. In the UK, if you spot a cheeky parking space on the opposite side of the road, there ain’t nothing wrong with crossing over and nipping into that spot.
Not so where I live, and I’m guessing this might be an unspoken rule across the USA. Basically, don’t park facing oncoming traffic. No, really don’t. Cos you get a lot of funny looks.
Public transport where I live
In Columbia a while back this dude James Rouse, who invented the place, made lots of ‘villages’ and parks and wot not, and very super it is too. BUT, my BIG gripe about living in Columbia is that the public transport completely and utterly sucks.
Oh, there are buses apparently from the Mall to the other shopping centres and the supermarket, but they are infrequent and under utilised. When this place is so very good at doing school buses (and we’re defo not in the UK), how can it have such a shocking lack of public transport when it seeks to encourage community and connection?
If I was 15 and lived here, I’d be on my bike all the blimmin’ time pedalling about from place to place, but that would take effing forever. So, here teenagers rely on their parents to ferry them about. No thank you. And older folks? I know they have Neighbor Ride and stuff, but what about bus stops and getting on the bus? When did that cease to be something that people did, or has it just never been a thing here? I don’t think I’ve ever seen a bus stop here in Columbia, now I think about it….
When I was 15 and living in Bath, UK, I could pop on the bus or train and go into town, to another town or village or to the city with ease, or go to the docs, or to my friend’s house (this is actually a lie, because it was usually to my boyfriend’s house 😉 ). I had freedom and independence.
When we have visitors there is no way of saying ‘Oh hop on the bus whilst I’m at work, and we’ll meet for coffee in Ellicott City.’ Nope, cos they have to get a hire car and a sat nav (GPS) and drive everywhere. I once tried to work out a route for my mother, who was staying, to meet me after work and it was so flipping complicate and inconvenient for her to get on the bus, we thought ‘sod that for a game of soldiers’ and that was that little expedition thwarted. It’s totes frustrating. Everyone has to drive everywhere here. Sigh.
Someone recently said to me that they didn’t want public transport in Columbia, or to or from Columbia to either Baltimore or Washington, because it would encourage the riff-raff to travel and cause problems…..
P.S. I was going to add in a picture of a bus in Columbia, but fittingly, I couldn’t find one 😉
So here is a picture of a British bus and bus stop.
Maternity and paternity stuff
The other bit of thingymabob that’s bothering me in the USA this week is maternity and paternity leave and how bleedin’ tight the American system is for new mothers and fathers.
My preggers American friend was telling me she only gets 12 weeks. I wasn’t even ready to get out my PJs after 12 weeks, let alone go back to work (though by 8 months I was pretty desperate to get back to work, have a wee by myself in peace and embark on grown up conversations again).
I was a bit embarrassed to tell her that I had 8 to 9 months leave, and that I could have had a year if I had chosen to….. and let’s not get started on paternity leave in the UK, which is infinitely better than what’s on offer in the USA, nor reflect on how amazeballs they are in Scandinavia with their whole combined parental leave oojamaflip.
In the USA, which benefits are available depends very much on which state you live in. A parenting site I found says that: ‘Actual paid “maternity leave” — while the norm in almost all countries — is unusual in the United States, although some enlightened companies do offer new parents paid time off, up to six weeks in some cases. Most likely, you’ll use a combination of short-term disability (STD), sick leave, vacation, personal days, and unpaid family leave during your time away from work.’
And yes, you read that correctly. Once you’ve had your baby you can get an STD 😉
(However, not all European countries get it right – in Austria they make you stop work at 7 months pregnant and one blogging chums tells me that her poor pregnant neighbour is bored witless and can’t understand why she has to stop working.)
Anyhow, that one thing I will say is that I am v v v v v glad that I am not going to get preggers here in America, because I think the maternity situation is archaic and pretty shocking. I’m sure it’s all about money etc, but for a country that places a great deal of emphasis on family values, I think the maternity leave sucks. Fact.
Sort it out, America-land.