Having visited my old stomping grounds for the second time in three months (Orlando, Florida), what I thought I knew about the people I saw I now know. Though we are constantly reminded not to put people in stereotypes it simply cannot be helped. This is because there is often a lot of truth to them which is the reason that they are crafted in the first place.
Observation number one: Americans in Orlando have nearly non-existent taste when it comes to shoes. Flip-flops and bright neon green or orange trainers seem to be the footwear of choice. Sometimes the women wear matching fingernail polish or T-shirts to go with their trainers. It can hurt the eyes. But even more painful for the sense of sight are the toenails that often peek out through the open-toed shoes which scream of bright colors. Why in the fuck would anyone want to draw attention to their feet unless they are 50 lb. (23 kg) overweight? Thank God that the Germans have enough sense to wear socks with their Birkenstocks® .
Two: Americans in Orlando will wait hours, perhaps days, to get a parking space close to the establishment that they intend on patronizing. Traffic jams occur regularly in parking lots as some driver inevitably waits for somebody to pack up their groceries, get in their vehicle and slowly back out. Nobody ever puts their shopping carts in the designated areas because this would mean a walk of about 20 steps there and 20 steps back-and somebody’s waiting for my parking space! Much too far for the average Floridian to walk. Hell, it’s even tiring just to think about walking that far.
Because gas is so cheap, relatively speaking, nobody walks anywhere. Nobody. Anywhere.
3: The rules of the road are mere suggestions. No cop, no stop. No turn signals. Wide turns-really wide turns. Slow cars are in the left lane. Speed limit signs seem to mean minimum recommended, not maximum permissible. Many of the cars in Florida wouldn’t be allowed on the roads in Germany due to their condition, and even more thankfully, neither would the drivers. Driving is an inconvenience that gets in the way of texting, updating Facebook® pages or even watching films. Yes, I’ve seen someone watching a film on their laptop as they were barreling down the freeway.
iv: Most foods in any restaurant are soft. This is because they are either overcooked, or designed that way. This is counterbalanced by the copious amounts of hard ice which is prevalent in any drink that you order. The only place I can buy muesli in Orlando is at IKEA® , the Swedish furniture store. The coffee is also weak. I need about 5 extra espresso shots (at $2 a piece) to bring my latte macchiato from Starbucks® up to a drinkable level. But the service is a helluva lot better in Florida, for sure. Food in supermarkets is about double the cost it is in Germany, excepting bananas, avocados and steak. Oh, and Coca-Cola® . Even the oranges are more expensive. Go figure.
Last but not least #5: The music on the radio, or radio in general is infinitely better than here in Germany. Bryan Adams or Tina Turner are not to be found anywhere unless you really go searching for them. Rock, R&B, Country and Christian music are all well represented. There are also plenty of chances to listen to Rush Limbaugh or any other right-wing nutjobs, as well as other talk radio programs. This is good because so much time is spent in traffic at the supermarket or shopping malls. It’s important to listen to quality music while you are waiting for the next available parking space.