Wednesday, September 12, 2007


A casual reader of WWNW may be under the impression that the author is in some way anti-American. If so you're way off the mark. In fact, I have a particular fondness for Americans and many things about that fine country. While the terms "Americans" is a bit of a catch-all given the vast differences between people in say Maine (where I spent many summer vacations) or Biloxi, Mississippi (where we celebrated the stag party for Marty over at What Would Mike Reno Do?) there are some commonalities that I find particularly appealing. Don't get me wrong, I'm a proud Canadian but there are certain things that we could learn from our neighbors to the south, and I'm not referring to "how to build larger theme restaurants".

Through my work (I'm a mystery shopper for Claire's) and my time visiting my parents who have lived in New Jersey and now reside in Jacksonville, Florida I get to spend a lot of time in the States. From these experiences I have compiled an incomplete list of what's great about America. Think of it as a modern version of Tocqueville's seminal work Democracy in America with a little more focus on the beer and professional sports. Here goes, in no particular order:

  1. Americans are friendlier than Canadians. This is probably going to have people north of the border up in arms but it's true. In terms of outward friendliness Americans do a better job than we do. Again I'm speaking in generalities here but you're more liking to have someone come up to you and start a conversation with you in the lower 48 (I've never been to Alaska and was too young when I went to Hawaii) than in Canada. That doesn't mean they're going to like you when they get to know you but they'll at least make an effort at the beginning.

  2. Nobody "circles the wagons" like Americans do. When Americans decide to get behind something there's no half-assing about it. Whether it be decorating the neighborhood for Halloween, supporting the local high school football team or making some nobody into a national celebrity Americans go from zero to fandemonium faster than any other nationality. Now perhaps they don't always channel this energy in the right direction but you have to admire their passion. Our reserved nature often gets in the way of us going "all out". Imagine if Hockey Day in Canada was celebrated by Americans. It would make Thanksgiving day football look like a Division III field hockey tournament rather than the CBC-created non event it is here.

  3. Americans make very good micro-brewed beer. The swill that the masses drink is terrible but I would take quality product like Sierra Nevada, Fat Tire or Goose Island over the Canadian equivalent. That's really going to piss off the overly-defensive amongst us, but it's the truth so deal with it.

  4. The American service industry makes ours look terrible. Actually, correct that, our service industry makes itself look terrible The two countries' industries don't even belong in the same sentence. Here's a reenactment of an average experience with a US restaurant/hotel/golf course: "Sir, we've unfortunately had a problem and you're table/room/tee time isn't fully ready. Why don't you go to the bar and enjoy a drink or two on us and we'll take another 10% off your bill. We're very sorry for your inconvenience. If you'd like to go elsewhere, we'll drive you there". Problems happen, you've dealt with it appropriately, I'm still a happy customer. In fact, I'm happier than I would have been if everything had gone smoothly. Now, here's the Canadian equivalent. "It looks like there's a problem with your reservation. You must have changed it or never made it in the first place. There's nothing I feel like doing about it so you're f-ed. Get out." Admittedly I'm paraphrasing here but these are actual experiences I've dealt with. I was once pulled over for speeding in Mayport, Florida then given directions to a great seafood restaurants and a recommendation as to what I should order by the cop.

So there you go, America. To celebrate I baked you a cake.

These colours don't run...well the strawberries did a little bit.

As you can tell, I believe in America. I've been there, it exists. I suppose by the same token I also believe in the Dominican Republic and Epcot Center, but that's beside the point. If I criticize something about your country in the future it's coming from a friend...a friend who needs your television studios to employ his countrymen and your malls to buy his discount items from.

All together now: U-S-A! U-S-A!

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