Since I lived in the USA, I have been observant to try to understand this host country so different from mine.The longer time I spend here, the more I can tell you about its qualities and flaws more accurately. Some things surprise me, in a positive way or not. Some have me confused. I would like to share my observations with you about the latest.
1) PHARMACIES : As you may know, the number of people who are overweight is very high in the United States. For this reason, I absolutely do not understand why bad things for your health are sold in pharmacies here like sodas or snacks of all kinds (especially when they are near the cash register where you are the most tempted to take some and that you think “just for the road”). Admittedly, everybody can show some self control and nobody is forcing you to buy such products. Though, I do not find it right to be called a “pharmacy” when you promote them, it seems contradictory. It is as if I would go to an anti-tobacco organization and I would be welcomed there with Marlboro cigarettes ! Same thing for creams, shampoos.. I was expecting a pharmacy that would sort out products to only offer quality one so that I can trust it. But that is not the case. I am also not faithful to an American pharmacy the way I was with a French one. For example, I go to a CVS pharmacy because this must be the most well-known pharmacy here and that I know I can find what I need there. I do not go there because the pharmacist has good advice or that they carry products I could not find anywhere else.
2) COMMERCIALS : During the day, they look like they are right from the 80’s. When you think about the USA, you think about technology and then, you find yourself watching a commercial straight out of Paint (I exagerrate a bit so you can have an idea of the situation here) and very bad effects added to it (as if it was not bad enough). Commercials are not on TV every hour but every 5 MINUTES (I am thankful for Netflix and the person who came with this idea). You thought you could watch a show? Ouuuuuch I have bad news for you.
Once again, they could totally promote healthy food but you know, the chain Applebee’s offered them a big fat check so how could they resist? Restaurant chains are on TV, one after the other, like they are on highways (the road sign “FOOD” here actually means that you can find a fast food place nearby). There are also commercials for lawyers, just in case you break your legs and you want to sue your family doctor that you have know for many years because it happened in his office… (but no hard feelings !). I wonder what happened the day you break your arm in a lawyer’s office.. who knows? Maybe it would turn into auctions to know who you are going to consult to sue this lawyer’s office !
3) CHAOS WHEN IT COMES TO HEALTH INSURANCE : I already hate dealing with American services on the phone, they do not make it easy on me either though ! Most of the time, I end up handing the phone to my husband. I think I called at least five times about the health insurance and each time, it was a defeat. I think I must just be unlucky.. It is difficult to get anyone on the phone who actually knows anything about health insurance when I talk to them about it in details. And mostly, it is difficult to get someone on the phone who can give me useful information. Several times, I was on the phone, trying to explain my situation the best I could and I would have no answer in return. Read and you will understand :
- the woman on the phone spoke so low that I was thinking that my home phone had a problem when I realize that her lack of efforts was the problem. This conversation led to a form being filled for an insurance I already had. (At some point, you just get tired and answer yes again and again).
- the woman on the phone who gives me everything but the pieces of information I am asking for. After a moment, I ask myself if I am speaking another language than English for her to not understand what I want at all. As they love to transfer you wherever they can, I always hang up. After all, what else was I planning to do besides spending hours on the phone to talk about health insurance right?
- Another time, I have been told to fill a form for something that I am not allowed to get knowing that the main purpose of my phone call was to know how I could change the address for my insurance. Humm are you planning on listening to me at some point or..?
4) AT THE SUPERMARKET : I think I now get a grasp of why we use token or coins for the trolley/cart in France. Here, it is total anarchy. People throw their trolleys/carts all over the place in the parking lot and it can be very dangerous. It drives me crazy ! Yes, there are people working at the store in charge of that but if you are a bit respectful, you put the trolley/cart where it belongs. It takes two minutes and everybody wins. I like that the client is king here but it is a little too much sometimes. I do not complain about the cashier who bags your groceries but I am not used to being assisted, I have two arms and I can do it ! I bought a electric razor one time and there were still hairs in the blades. Yep, people can return anything at the store and the supermarket staff sometimes does not take the time to check that nothing is damaged etc. I was disgusted.
The list is not exhaustive, maybe there are other things which did not come to mind that I will add.
Are there things which drive you crazy in the US? Or elsewhere? Either you are an expat or just visiting. What was your biggest cultural shock? Share your experience !