Lesson Number 1:
Americans are mainly not American. They’re either Mexican or Chinese, with a few variations on those two themes thrown in. Sure, the majority have stayed long enough to get citizenship or at least a work permit but it’s still bizarre to hear only about 1/3 of the population speaking English.
Lesson Number 2: (Or numero dos for our hispanic bretheren)
Americans will not listen to anybody if they are being told something which they don’t like. Observe the following two case studies:
1. Queueing up to buy tickets for the ferry to Liberty Island and to Ellis Island, there were large signs informing us, the general public, that there were no more tickets available for the tour of Lady Liberty’s crown. Saddened by this, we kept calm and carried on, after all – there was nothing we could do and we could still go and see the statue and observe its glory from the outside. Three or four places in the queue ahead of us, a lady had finally arrived at the cashier’s desk. Blatantly ignoring the A4 piece of paper three inches from her face with clear black 40pt font which vainly attempted to save her breath by telling her that the crown tours were sold out. “Is it true that there are no more tickets to the top of the crown today?” she asked.
No darling, the signs were just for decoration and for a little bit of fun. In fact, the one next to your face doesn’t exist.
2. The same day, mere minutes after the first case study, we were in the queue for the ferry. It was a long queue – there were baggage checks just like at the airport. Scanners, beeps, police, guns and everything. At the start of the queue, there was a big sign showing us what we couldn’t take to the island. The usual suspects were displayed: guns, knives, swords, bombs, small kittens in milk bottles, that sort of thing. Also on the list were “large cases or bags”. I suppose that makes sense – reduce the bomb risk by reducing the size of the objects people can carry near the statue. One couple strolled briskly up to the queue, again ignoring this sign. The security guard next to us (we were near the end – the queue looped round itself) – a big black guy – shouted to them and they stopped. He then proceeded to tell them that they couldn’t take the case on the ferry. They glared at him like he was crazy and began power walking to join the queue regardless.
The security guard got them back though – just as his colleague was going to fetch the offending couple, he told him “Nah, leave them dude – they’ll find out when they get to the end of the queue” (that would take about half an hour) “I told them but they didn’t listen. Screw them.”
Shop attendants actually care about you and make an effort to show it. No matter where we were, upon entrance to any shop we would be greeted with a smile and an inquiry as to how we were. Even in such high establishments as Tiffany’s we were smiled at, greeted and talked to. It was pretty obvious that we couldn’t even afford to lick the carpet in the place yet we were still treated like potential customers with a billion dollar fortune to squander. It made a nice difference from the UK where the general attitude (though by no means the attitude of all) shop attendants is that they can’t be bothered to work for such little pay and they feel as if they might as well just sulk at the world because of it. Or they’re just so dead and hungover it puts quite a damper on any high spirits their clients may possess.
I’m sure I learnt more but it’s all flown from my brain.
This guy is amazing for improvised comedy videos. In this one he makes up a lie about some celebrity knowing him. Awkward hilarity ensues.