Monday, February 19, 2007

Ten Unexpectely Defective Things in America

(Note: I've been adding to this since I first arrived, so a few things are out of date).

When planning to come to America, there were many things I expected would be defective or otherwise difficult (at least from the point of view of a foreigner). I anticipated that many of my electrical devices wouldn't take the correct voltage. I understood that the measurement system would befuddle me. I had been told that all the money is the same colour, making it impossible to tell the values of notes at a glance.

But there are also a few things I didn't expect (although in some cases should have). So here are my Top 10 Unexpected Defective things in America:
  1. My nice black folder, which bends everything I put into it because the paper is a different size.
  2. My cellphone, which accepts the correct voltage and has all the correct bands, but refuses to roam on the Cingular network (happily, we have them connected now).
  3. Trolleys ("carts") which are often impossible to drive straight because they frequently have all the wheels unfixed/turnable or, perplexingly, only the back wheels (as I discovered while attempting to transport two hefty CRT monitors from the storage room to my office).
  4. My credit rating, which isn't accessible here. Hence no financial institutions trust us, and we get charged exorbitant deposits (such as for our rent, where the deposit went from $100 to $1300).
  5. My Razor, which was the one piece of electronics I assumed probably would take the right voltage. I was wrong.
  6. All my warm clothes. Cheers to Tina for her predictions of icy doom. I have likened the daytime outside temperature (many times) to that of a nicely air-conditioned room.
  7. Our computers. You all know why... Sobs quietly.
  8. The water. Ok so this is probably just San Jose, but the water is so full of calcium (or what I assume is calcium) that even I (who roundly mocked Tina and Mealz for their reliance on a water filter) don't drink tap water. All our pots and pans, are already covered in white calcium deposits.
  9. Deodorant. Oddly enough, the spray cans are very hard to find here. Deodorant "sticks" seem to be all the rage. Of course if you want pheromone sprays ("Sleep Less - Score More"), then you're in luck.
  10. Pennies. Coming from a country that just recently ditched it's 5c coin, pennies are an absolute pain. You accumulate these little copper buggers at a phenomenal rate, and they are impossible to get rid of unless you want to stand there counting them out when you pay for something. We are taking our revenge by turning many of them into souvenirs in the numerous penny-squashing machines scattered around tourist destinations.
Also, as an aside, a link for the day. You'll realize why I like it when you get there :)


Lina said...

Lol, nice link!

We have the same kind of water here. The region I come from actually has the water containing most calcium in Germany. Isn't that something to be proud of?

Oh, and the coins... I hate that! I got so used to how they just round up or down to the next 10 cents in New Zealand, that was great. And here they calculatle everything on the exact cent and hand you back a handful of coins, what's up with that? Ack.

Anonymous said...

Dont worry about the cool weather... I was there in May 2005 for a week, and the weather was beautiful. If you get a chance to drive south, check out "Big Sur" it will remind you of the Wellington coast.

Wal said...

Opps that last comment was supposed to have my name on it! Wal