I’m Afraid of Americans: Part 2
(Click here for Part 1)
Bathrooms: +1 Japan, +1 America
What’s the deal with these bathroom stalls? This and American football have got me seriously wondering if this country wasn’t founded as a haven for closet homosexuals. Why does it need to be possible for other guys to see me?
On the other hand, America has hot water and soap and towels, so they get a point. I bet if you were all sciencey and knew what you were talking about unlike me, you could assert that idiot Japanese people who “wash” their hands in the bathroom with cold water, no soap and nothing to dry their hands with might actually be increasing their infectiousness.
But Japan has the occasional washlet, which trumps all.
Service: +1 Japan
The citizens are one thing, but nothing could have prepared me for just how rude people could be even as they took my money. The bus drivers were a parade of disgruntled assholes who talked to us like we were children at best, but more often like we were prisoners. I think the worst was the guy who threatened to kick people off the bus in the middle of the desert if they talked loudly. “And you can stand there and watch which way we go ‘cause I’m not here to put up with that shit,” I think he said.
Then, I go to buy some fast food, and the guy just says the price! No “welcome,” no “please,” no “that will be,” just “$#.##.” And I experienced plenty of similar shit over my 10-day trip. Clerks never greet you in convenience stores, they never smile, and it always makes me feel unwelcome. In fact, the only two times I felt like a customer were when tips were involved, or at some of the more advanced Wal-Marts, which have now implemented a tattle system by which you can rate your checker “Good” or “Bad” as you’re leaving.
Smaller towns: +1 Japan
Have you ever tried to live in a medium-to-small town in America without a car? I did for a week, and it was nearly impossible. Intermittent sidewalks interspersed with soft ditches filled with grass burrs; crosswalks that are just there for decoration; hypothetical buses with no posted schedules; rednecks who will honk, yell, or throw beer cans at you if you are walking…. According to the news, there was even someone stabbed while riding a bike on my first night in town.
For my whole trip I was the ONLY pedestrian I saw, and everyone I knew drove their cars even a few blocks down the street. If you hate driving like I hate driving, life in America is just right out.
In Japan, however, no matter what out-of-the-way place I’ve had to go to, I’ve always been able to find my way there and around while there using public transportation or walking. I’ve never had to choose between walking in the mud or on the same road as traffic, and as shitty as some of the sidewalks are, I’ve always been able to bike where I needed to go. I recently even rode my bike hundreds and hundreds of kilometers halfway across the fucking island on a trip that took me six days, and all I needed was a map.
Food: +1 America for deliciousness, but -1 America for deadliness
Tex-mex, one-pound bacon jalapeno cheeseburgers and a side dish of tater-tots doused with ranch dressing, chicken-fried steak, ice cream players on hot cobbler stages, breakfast burritos, funnel cake, 1.9 liter fountain drinks for $1.39, Americanized Chinese buffets.… These are the only things I missed about the god-forsaken USA. And even still, I don’t regret our time apart, as I’m a good 75 pounds lighter since our last tryst.
Sorry I was too lazy to go take a picture. But I promise this is an authentic e-mail. Not my own, of course.…