Thursday, December 18, 2008

Cops, Cars and a Cuppa - my first visit to the US (part 2)

(Continued from previous post)

I'd always known that American cops were armed, but when you're not used to an gun-toting police force, it really seems so "in your face." It's almost like something from a comic-book; the "Utility Belt", complete with packed heat - and testosterone to match. But I noticed the officer standing by the drop-off area outside the terminal building at Newark airport, much more than he noticed me. In fact, I was so invisible to him that he turned and spat right on my shoe. "Welcome to America!"

I dragged myself and my backpack (we like to call them Rucksacks in England) along the sidewalk (Brits call this the pavement) a few feet and anxiously awaited my ride (lift) while I munched on some of the candy (sweets) I'd bought at the store (shop). Would she recognize me? It turned out that this disheveled Brit with the rucksack stood out enough from the besuited dudes with their fancy luggage, that she was soon able to find me.

People sometimes wonder why it took me six years (actually, until my daughter was born) before I agreed to get behind the wheel of a car in the US. Here's why: My friend pulled away from the kerb (and yes, she had allowed me to get in first!) and headed for the highway (motorway). Unfortunately, where the airport exited onto the highway, all I could see were cars coming at us from every direction. I thought for sure that someone was going to crash into us. It was lunacy. I did the only sane thing I could have done. I covered my eyes with my hands and screamed like a girl.

By the time we'd arrived in Edison, New Jersey from Newark airport, I'd finally removed my hands from my eyes. I tumbled out of the car with my stuff and entered my friend's cute little house. We went straight for the kitchen, where she asked me whether I'd like a cup of tea. YES, I thought. She knows me well enough to know that all I want after this stressful transatlantic trip is a cup of tea. Nothing more, until I recover. I like this woman.

Would you like Green Tea, Decaf. Green Tea, Rose-hip, Peppermint, Chamomile, Cranberry Apple Zinger, Orange Spice, Red tea, White tea,Lapsang Souchong......

It was then I first learned about the insane amount of choice that Americans have. Over pretty much everything. you just have some tea?

The amazing thing was she got it. Very quickly. I was beginning to think she might be a keeper.


La Belle Femme said...

Firstly, this is SO funny! I love the British terms for the American..I keep laughing every time I see it (and it's often!). Secondly, the story is good. And thirdly, having lived all over the world myself (including England), it's amusing to see the perspective that I have of America from another ex-pat who still lives here...not many that I've met seem to have the same view point. Good job!! Keep it up. I'm still smiling/laughing. :)

Graham said...

I had no idea you were such a globe-trotter! There's much more to come. I've just got so many of these things that have been piling up in my head, and I felt the need to get them down before I get too old and start forgetting everything.

Anonymous said...

Good story, Graham! Welcome to America, indeed!

Sheila said...

You spell kerb as I like to spell it!! It seems so much more exotic than curb.

Graham said...

As a Brit living in the US, I get the worst of both worlds, as far as spelling and Brit/US equivalent words are concerned. The longer I'm here, the worse it gets too. I slip in and out of UK/US at random, and often forget which is which.

Mouse said...

Loving it G :)

Alison said...

That was even better than the first one. Love the cop who spat on your show. I would say that is a New York thing, not just American, but what do I know?

Looking forward to seeing more!

I must be truly psychic because I know the name of the lady in the story.

Anonymous said...

First of all, he *did* scream when we were leaving Newark airport. The screaming itself almost caused me to crash! In his defense, it was one of those times when two cars come from somewhere behind you, drive on either side of you and then seem to go through your car to merge back into the lane ahead of you at the same time without hitting you or each other. Of course he doesn't mentioned that he then screamed about two cars in another lane nowhere near us he thought might crash into each other. I mean as long as we can get by them, who cares!;-)
Secondly, tea......I bought English Breakfast tea and Earl Grey just for him. How much better can you get than *English* in the name? But did he appreciate that? No. He wanted Lipton.
Thirdly, I take no responsibility either as someone living in New Jersey (not an actual Jersey girl) or as an American for the cop.

Last of all, he skipped that we then stayed up for the next 36 hours or so straight listening to music and talking until we fell asleep exhausted on the couch.