Let me begin by saying, I love America. While it’s tough to compete with Thailand (the land of ass hoses and lazy gym goers), I still think America is the best place in the world despite its flaws, of which there are many (FoxNews?). With that being said, when you spend a significant time abroad, you view your home country in a totally new light. The following is a list of things that always annoyed me when I was living in America, but became so much more pronounced when I went home over the holidays.
1. The concept of “Wind Chill Factor”. I actually completely forgot about this weather term while living abroad. When I was in Chicago, there was a day when the high was -15 degrees Farenheit (-26C). That’s pretty f-ing cold to begin with, but when Al tells me that it’s going to be -53 with wind chill…?? WTF. The liquid in my eyeballs was literally freezing so I had to pull my scarf up over my eyes and walk blindly down the street which was covered in ice. Good thing I had health insurance…not.
2. Snow/Cold Hysteria, especially in the city. I think people watch too much apocalyptic, “end of the world” programming these days. The media certainly doesn’t help by naming every snow storm and cold snap something that triggers people to hysterically prepare for the second coming of Christ. I’ve managed to survive Snowpocalypse, Snowmageddon, a Polar Vortex and something in January called “Hercules”. If the end of the world comes in the form of snowflakes rather than fire raining down from the heavens and a bearded, Jewish ghost judging the living and the dead, then I am pretty fucking happy. What ever happened to just: Winter. In winter it’s cold and snowy, that is not news. In the near future when it stops being cold and snowy in January, well then that is news. Also, in the US (not counting Alaska) when has it ever been so cold or so snowy that the average, non-Rascal riding person couldn’t go out to get food? Like once every 15 years. And on those very rare days, do these people really not have ANY food in their houses to sustain them for 24-36 hours?? Then why do all the grocery stores look like they’ve been looted? There can’t possibly be that many handicapped and or elderly people clearing out all the shelves in the grocery store in preparation for a 4 inch snowfall. Worst case scenario Americans, if you don’t have any food and you are too lazy to shovel your front steps to get outside, you can survive off the blubber you’ve been storing up for the last 20 years for this exact situation; God knows you have plenty of it.
3. Celebration of obesity. I am sick of hearing about people who are obese being raised up on a pedestal and regarded as a good example for young people because of their “confident, I don’t care what anyone thinks about me attitude”. I am NOT saying that it is ok to be cruel or mean to someone who is overweight, or to anyone for that matter. But it is even less OK to elevate fat people (yes, fat people, not curvy, not big boned – fat) to a place where they are regarded as “role models”, UNLESS they are making changes to get healthy. To tell children and other people that it is ok to be overweight and it’s the person inside who really matters is exactly the same as telling people it’s ok to smoke 2 packs a day if you are a kind person with a good heart. Health and personality are two totally separate things and someone’s obesity and the dangerous health effects associated with it should not be excused because they are nice and baked you cookies. If your friends smoke, you tell them they gotta quit smoking and it’s totally normal and fine. If your friends are fat, you should be able to tell them they gotta lose some weight and get healthier without looking like a total bitch. This concept is VERY uncomfortable for us, and even as I am writing it, I feel uncomfortable.
4. Public Transportation. The El is so charming. Look at all that charm strewn all over the floor and seats. The NY subway is also so charming, especially when I saw a homeless, black-out drunk man start dancing in front of a guy playing the trumpet at Union Station and then slip in a puddle (of pee?) and break his fall with his forehead, on a vertical I-beam. American individualism and independent attitude is a great thing in many ways. However, the lack of “we’re in this together” mentality that Asian cultures seem to have nailed means that, unlike American public transit, their trains are not covered in garbage, feces and vomit. They don’t smell like urine and they are not a make-shift shelter for homeless people. In fact, the trains in Bangkok, many places in Europe and even in Cameroon (despite being old and life threateningly dangerous) are some of the nicest, most well taken care of places to go in the city. If Thomas the Tank Engine were American, and not British, he’d have a black eye, be covered in gang graffiti and probably be drunk.
So thanks America, it was great to come home and see you, but I am just not that into you right now. I’m going to go back to Bangkok now where it is Tropicpacalypse every day.