07 September 2015

A Couple of Little Bones to Pick with the USA

No aspirin is going to help this headache!
Before I embark on a series of diatribes in upcoming months about everything that's gone dreadfully wrong in Brazil in the last year or so, a series of political, economic, and social events that have driven nearly every single person who lives here into the deepest of depressions, I'd like to pick a few little bones with the good old USA, where Mark and I recently spent some quality time. And I'm not talking about the ongoing political campaign nonsense, plenty of people are already analyzing that to death. Nor am I talking about the many social ills still plaguing the US, that's for deeper thinkers than I am to work through. No, I'm talking about the little details of life there, as seen by a couple of visiting citizens just passing through.

My idea of fine dining!
I believe deep in my heart that when Americans travel to Europe or South America they truly enjoy the restaurant experience, it's one of the highlights of any trip abroad. Spending lots of time around a table full of excellent food, staying for as long as you wish, maybe indulging in another drink to enjoy the sunset . . . it's divine, and unforgettable. So why on earth do Americans IN America allow the restaurant experience to, well, to go to pot? The pacing! It's too damn fast! I mean, come on, we're just beginning our meal and the waitress comes up to the table to ask, "Will you be wanting dessert?" And since we just look at her in utter amazement, she takes that for a "no" and plops the bill on the table, "I'll just leave this here." For Mark and me, this table-turnover-gotta- move-it-fast-faster culture was SHOCKING! And not good for digestion.

Let's stay in restaurants for a moment. Restaurant food in the States is waaay too sugared. Everything has sugar in it. Everything. We couldn't believe it. And the portion size? Waaay too big. The food flops over the edge of the plate. So, let's see . . . all that sugar in those enormous portions leads to . . .

Hi! Hello! Hi!

Everyone we met (but for one very prickly, very feisty, cowboy-lovin', New York-hatin' shopowner in Scottsdale, Arizona) was incredibly friendly. And I would like to take that friendliness in the spirit in which it was given, but — how can I say this? People were soooo friendly, and soooo perky, that I began to wonder (worry?) whether they were on something.

I would say that in my experience throughout Brazil, 88% of the public bathrooms are impeccably clean. That goes for the bathrooms in malls, in theaters, in restaurants and yes, even in gas stations! But oh, dear, I sure didn't expect this: in my recent trek through the U.S., I'm sorry to report that 88% of the public bathrooms were f.i.l.t.h.y. Hey, get a broom! And some disinfectant! It's not rocket science — if we can do it in an emerging country, so can you!

Okay, I'm done now.

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