day 01 - your favorite song day 02 - your least favorite song day 03 - a song that makes you happy day 04 - a song that makes you sad day 05 - a song that reminds you of someone day 06 - a song that reminds you of somewhere day 07 - a song that reminds you of a certain event day 08 - a song that you know all the words to day 09 - a song that you can dance to day 10 - a song that makes you fall asleep day 11 - a song from your favorite band day 12 - a song from a band you hate day 13 - a song that is a guilty pleasure day 14 - a song that no one would expect you to love day 15 - a song that describes you day 16 - a song that you used to love but now hate day 17 - a song that you hear often on the radio day 18 - a song that you wish you heard on the radio day 19 - a song from your favorite album day 20 - a song that you listen to when you’re angry day 21 - a song that you listen to when you’re happy day 22 - a song that you listen to when you’re sad day 23 - a song that you want to play at your wedding day 24 - a song that you want to play at your funeral day 25 - a song that makes you laugh day 26 - a song that you can play on an instrument day 27 - a song that you wish you could play day 28 - a song that makes you feel guilty day 29 - a song from your childhood day 30 - your favorite song at this time last year
So before I even start with this post I will do the necessary pre-amble, just so that the haters understand where I’m coming from. And here goes the preamble:
- I am born and raised in Jamaica
- I think the USA is a beautiful place, especially where opportunities are concerned
Being Jamaican prevents me from appreciating certain things about the USA, simply because I did not grow up doing things that way.
So below is basically a discourse, if you may, on cultural differences, and nothing more. So here are:
10 Things I sometimes dislike About American Culture (and possible solutions)
So I spent 3.5 years in Boston, MA, and so far about 5 months in NY, and I find that these specific things are probably related to either of or both of these cities, but probably happen in many other states as well:
1. TIPPING - In Jamaica we only tip if the service is good. So if you were unfriendly, rude, or just simply absent from the dining experience, then there really is no reason for you to get 15-20% of my bill, part of which pays you. Many of my American friends just thought I was mean and cheap, but I would have to say I prefer our way of doing things. It’s even worse when I’m forced to tip because of my party size or because the restaurant includes it…and ahhm where was the big sign on the front door telling me this. Some menus have it in really tiny print at the bottom of a page, and for that I thank you, but just pay your workers more money and don’t have me calculating anything at the end of my meal.
SOLUTION: When in Rome do as the Romans do, and tip, OR Do like my fellow Jamaicans do and run the risk of cab drivers cursing you out or waiters spitting in your food. You see life is simple, the choice is yours…there is always a solution.
2. COAT CHECKING - Again this one relates to how Uncle Sam finds more ways to take your money. Now why in the hell should I pay someone to put my coat on a hanger. Number 1, I’m coming to your stinky ass restaurant or club to spend my money, so you should damn well offer to take my coat. Then it’s worse when you tell me that I have to do a MANDATORY coat check…oh really. So I don’t even have the option to toss my coat ovwe the back of my chair? But I have to spend $2 (Approx. J$180) to check my coat. Again some of my American friends would say…It’s just $2. Yea, and we just spent $10 on Parking and just $1 in the bathroom…but, it adds up.
SOLUTION: Do as the Romans do, OR Sneak your coat into the restaurant like a real hood baby, and fold it and tuck it somewhere (Ok I’ll admit this is pretty ghetto, but when you are on a college budget or have no budget at all, you gotta make ish happen).
3. PARKING - So if I said we don’t have paid parking in Jamaica I’d be lying. With that said though, we also have numerous side walks all over the place that you can park on without being given a ticket, or without spending $10-15 to park, probably only for a few hours. Better yet, restaurants and clubs tend to have their own parking lots, which are free, or for a reasonable rate.
SOLUTION: Take the subway, so you don’t have to park, and of course run the risk of being jumped and robbed by said hood babies when you are walking home late at night, OR take cabs and spend even more money to get from A to B…and oh, I have to tip again, OR the GRAND SOLUTION (see later).
4. THE BATHROOM GUY - By this point you definitely think I’m cheap, mean and broke, but seriously though, that guy in the bathroom that turns on the water for you and squeezes the soap in your hand…what is his purpose?? At this point a foreigner gets really perturbed. So you are telling me that I should tip you for helping me wash my hands…oh and I get a mint or stick of gum at the end? Get the hell outta here!! I think this probably pisses me off the most so far of my things I hate. In Jamaica we would say…”Look pon da strong back bwoy a squeeze soap, when him coulda deh somewhere a do someting betta wid himself” = Look at that strong man that could be putting his strength to better use elsewhere. As much as I appreciate the need to make a buck, i’m losing mine, and not for any reason of value.
SOLUTION: Don’t tip the water-soap guy, and he basically hates you when you return to the bathroom to pee again, which could happen again and again if it’s one a those nights (cold and lots of drinks coming in…granted drinks that you are probably paying for) OR Fire that guy in the bathroom, cuz his presence is really annoying me.
5. $10 Drinks - Of course in a couple of years when the economy changes this drink may not be $10, but this is about $860 Jamaican Dollars. There is no way in hell you would pay that much for a mixed drink. Ok so the economies and the cost of living varies from place to place, but that’s more than twice what I would pay back home.
SOLUTION: Drink water, OR hope to get a buzz off of one drink, cuz I for sure can’t afford any more than that.
6. "You’re All Set" - So I’m all set to do what…ok I get it, to leave the store and go home. It kinda makes me think of “Set good like di ice inna freeza” (for the Vybz Kartel fans), but for real, it is one of those things that I just had to get used to. I never thought anyone would tell me I was all set after I purchased something, but hey it’s kinda just one of those things people do here.
SOLUTION: This one I think I could adjust to, and ti complain about this would be uncivilized…so I guess I am uncivilized, but this one I will let slide.
7. Are those Dreads? - So ignorance is allowed, but never is anyone supposed to call Cane/Corn rows dreads…it just doesn’t happen. That’s like calling a blonde a brunette. They’re just different things. Don’t do it.
SOLUTION: Lessons on Afrocentric Hairstyles maybe? So this is a lock, and this is a twist…And right here we have what we call a weave. And this is a wig…they don’t normally sew these in. C’mon, just don’t say things you know nothing about. Just use generic statement like “I like your hair”, which is cool, apart from when it’s followed by “Can I touch it?”. Arrrrrgh. Again I guess you just have to appreciate that this may be new to some.
8. Is Jamaica In Africa? - And yes this happened to me at Berklee College of Music. I probably took some offense but didn’t express it, as I was appalled at the fact that someone could think the country that the fastest man in the world is from, and that reggae music and Bob Marley originated in, was in Africa. Like damn, I’ll admit I didn’t know exactly where Kazakhstan was at 1st, but I think if Bob Marley was from there I would know.
SOLUTION: Tasering anyone else who ever comes up to a Jamaican and says that…really just kidding about that, and I don’t have a taser gun, but this may be worthy of tasering, daz all.
9. How The Date Is Written - So the British system, which is what Jamaica follows, since we were once a British colony, goes from the smallest to the largest, which is DAY then MONTH then YEAR, because a day is shorter than a month, which is shorter than a year. Seems logical. So January 2, 2011 is 2/1/11, but here in the USA the month is written first because it is said first I guess, so that same date is 1/2/11. As you can see this could be the source of some serious confusion, especially on a legal document or a cheque for instance.
SOLUTION: This is one of those situations where you just have to follow the Romans or you gonna have some serious timeline and documentation issues when all your dates are technically wrong.
10. The Grand Solutions - So instead of finding a 10th thing to hate, I figured I would just share my GRAND SOLUTION. Based on all of these it would seem that I should just stay home and not go anywhere. That is my grand conclusions. If I cook at home then I don’t have to eat out and won’t have to tip. If I don’t go out I avoid bathroom help me wash my hand man, and I also don’t have to consider taking a cab. Also if I stay inside, it decreases my chances of people asking stupid questions.
Oh, and of course I could always just go back to Jamaica, the rock that I came from under, where things really aren’t as bad as they seem : )