He Said/She Said: America the Great

He Said/She Said: America the Great

Traveling has taught us that there are many things that America can improve at, but it has also highlighted some things that make America truly great.  The world would be a better place if it became Americanized in these ways.
Many lament the “Americanization” of the world, but in many ways it’s been a great thing.  During the last 150 years the USA has revolutionized the way we live, eat and do business.  While progress has been great, there’s more we can introduce to people’s lives.

  • ICE: safe and readily available. When it’s 90 degrees with 90% humidity, I want a cold drink, not lukewarm, not room temperature, properly cold.  I know there are a lot of cultural and infrastructure challenges that must be overcome, but I believe the availability of ice-cold drinks would make the world a better place.
  • COFFEE: inexpensive coffee, from a known origin, readily available.  This isn’t really an American thing, rather a European taste we’ve maintained.  Sadly Europe, Switzerland no less, owns the world’s coffee tastes with instant Nescafe, which is disgusting.  Instant coffee, from Nestle and other brands is a travesty, yet it’s all too common in Latin America, Asia, Australia and New Zealand.  When it’s not instant it can be even worse, it’s often a coffee-based drink, but not coffee.  Ideas like “iced coffee” being hot coffee poured over ice cream, frappes, and sugar filled drinks are just wrong.  Give me a properly made espresso, cold-press, or French press and hold the milk, sugar and gimmicks.
  • CUSTOMER SERVICE:  People say that service in the USA is better because of tips, I think that’s wrong, it’s that American businesses are better at hiring and firing.  Through careful interviewing and hiring procedures people are better fit for their roles in the service industry.  If people make it through the process that are actually assholes they’d find themselves without a job.  This has created a system that develops those with talents in customer service and pushes those not meant for it (people like me) into other fields.  While the tips are an incentive,  the right people are doing the job, those people with the temperament, smile and patience to handle the masses.  In other countries it seems they don’t consider who they are hiring for what, getting surly, testy, and careless people in customer facing industries, which is a shame.

I will never argue with someone that tells me I’m spoiled or that I take things for granted. Quite honestly if you’ve grown up in upper-middle class America it’s hard not to take clean water, a temperature controlled environment and even fast internet for granted. While that might not be right those things were all a part of my day to day reality back home.

Ice, coffee and customer service are amazing and I’m not one to turn down any of them, but let’s get back to basics- clean drinking water. It truly is nothing short of an engineering marvel that you never have to ask at a hotel in the US if the water is okay to drink. While an entire blog post could be easily dedicated to the topic of clean water and the myriad of issues and barriers that prevent it from being available in many countries. But all that makes me all the more in awe of the safe water plentifully provided coast to coast in the US.

The type of organization, foresight and planning that goes into providing clean water makes life better for people on many different levels. While many Americans complain of the bureaucratic nightmares involved with doing any type of formal transaction, I now say “at least we have a consistent system.” Getting 12 different answers for the same question with no way of determining which one is right always ends in frustration for everyone.

Another thing that makes America great is that if you were to get 12 different answers you would be able to find out which one is right. The availability of information in the US astounding, and not just because I know where to find it. Almost every city in the US has a library, visitor center, internet cafe and probably a coffee shop with wifi. Going back to the customer service issue there’s also almost always a helpful person to ask that will give you a straight answer.

I hope that when I go home I will not only have a new found appreciation for these things that make America great, but that I won’t take them for granted either. Because as I have been reminded all to many times on this trip, I’m pretty damn lucky!

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About the Author

thinkCHUA: Photographing and documenting the world on a 3 year round-the-world trip to help future travelers discover new places, travel longer and enjoy the world's great experiences.

About the Author
thinkCHUA: Photographing and documenting the world on a 3 year round-the-world trip to help future travelers discover new places, travel longer and enjoy the world's great experiences.


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