More America

Back a couple of days now and some random thoughts/observations from our trip have surfaced.

Doggie bags are still alive and well in New York. Well in the restaurants we visited they are. Restaurants do indeed serve ‘American portions’ which meant that I always stuck to just an entree (confused a few waiters!) however it seems that even some Americans can’t manage them and on several occasions saw people getting their uneaten dinner in a tin foil packet to take home.

The weather forecast is always right. Even the one looking 4 days ahead. I guess the big landmass and big ocean mean that they can see the weather coming and it doesn’t change by bumping into something like the Cook Straight or Southern Alps. And there doesn’t seem to be awful wind there which around here seems to change the weather from what was forecast. So whatever rain and for however long, and the temperature is always spot on.

TV ads – cars, drugs (as in medication) and insurance seem to be predominant, unless it was the time we were watching TV or the channels we were watching … Drug ads are scary! Lots of ads for things we skirt around carefully on our television … depression, anxiety, weight loss, ‘waterworks’ issues and practically no ads for headaches or hay fever. And where as our ads are all ‘oooohhhh look how sporty I can be when I use this headache pill/sanitary product’, their ads are all about how crippling depression/extra weight/hose problems are then spend three quarters of the ad listing all the things that could go wrong if you take the medication being advertised … fever, weight gain, bleeding, rash, mood swings etc etc etc “please consult your doctor” – it really is quite horrifying! On the other hand there are some lovely heartfelt ads on for the holidays. One that got me every time was a guy who was taking his girlfriend on a bit of a memory tour: when they got to each place she said “Oh yes. I remember this place. This is where we first met when we were both ordering the same coffee” and “I remember this restaurant. It’s where you brought me on our first date.” And so on. Until they get to a little park somewhere and they stop at a park bench. “I don’t remember this place” she says, and he says “You will” and gets down on one knee and says “Because this is the place where I asked you to marry me” and produces a huge diamond. Zales – give the gift of diamonds this Christmas.

On United Airlines you can listen to pilot/tower communication on channel 9. It’s cool. You can hear the tower talking to all the planes currently being directed, both on the ground and in the air. “United 53 proceed to runway 25 left and hold.” And once in the air occasionally you can hear pilots talking to each other, asking if there’s any turbulence in a particular area – ‘light chop’ is often referred to. It’s a great way to pass the time especially after take off or during descent.

After we got home we found a lock missing off one of our suitcases. It’s been searched in America by TSA – there was a notice inside stating so. What pissed me off is that we spent about $20 per lock to get the ones that the TSA have a master key for – yet their note said that “if your suitcase is locked and TSA officers cannot get access your lock will be destroyed” – so did they destroy our lock? Obviously, because it wasn’t back in our suitcase. Grrrrrr – it seems we were sucked into false advertising because either the TSA don’t know about how to open their own locks or it’s all a lie. Which is utterly ludicrous because on their own government website they encourage the use of these locks and even show a picture of them! I’m going to write to them and see if I get an apology – way to take on scary corporate/national security giants!

Going to the movies in New York is great! Well, around Times Square it is anyway. You can rock on up to a theatre where there are 10 or so movies playing and all on very frequent cycles. So even if you have a particular movie in mind to go see, you can just go to the theatre about the time you want to see it and you can almost guarantee that in the next half an hour a session will start. We were only interested in new releases which is why they were on frequently, I’m sure the times get more sporadic the older the movie gets but it was great to have such choice. In Wellington we know to only go to the theatre around 3 or 6 or 8.30. And one strange thing … we saw Four Christmases while we were there (Reese Witherspoon and Vince Vaughan) – feel good movie about a couple avoiding spending Christmas with both of their broken families by taking a trip overseas and when bad weather forces them to stay in town on Christmas Day they spend the day going to each of the 4 parent’s houses. The thing is, it’s advertised here in New Zealand and it’s called Four Holidays. The movie is obviously set on Christmas Day so it’s definitely about Christmas. I guess the ‘holiday’ title is to make it more PC for the non-Christmas cultures in New Zealand. However, given the large Jewish population in New York and the many many other cultures in America I would’ve thought that the ‘holiday’ title would’ve been way more appropriate over there. New Zealand is so ‘aware’ … everything we say or do nowadays, even in the privacy of our own homes is so controlled and respectful.

Oh, and here’s one last picture from the trip. The hotel arranged a car to take us to the airport  – it’s a budget hotel, and we’ve used this service of theirs before … their ‘mate’ from somewhere comes along in his loved Lincoln Town Car and lifts bags and opens doors and drives you to the airport. It’s all in the family and I have to admit, the first time around there was a slight doubt that it was all above board. However it was, so we accepted their offer of a car again this time. Except it was a ridiculous white stretch limo! Struth. Very garish! And I felt more embarrassed in it’s lurid neon interior than I did a movie star. However, bags were lifted, doors were opened and we were delivered safely to the airport at the price quoted.

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