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In the U.S. - Part 5: American Impression

Posted by Jingtian , 17 May 2008 · 184 views

Warning: this entry includes extremely disputable issues, such as politics, religion, race, culture, etc. For the same reason, I will add the entry as a comment, so that you will not be able to see it on the main page of my blog.

Comments are welcome.

What aspect of the Americans impresses me most? They are fat. Forget that, I'm just kidding. I guess the reason that the Americans are bigger than they are supposed to be is that they eat very much. Once I went to the Cheese Cake Factory, ordered one appetizer, one specialty and one dissert. On the table, I finished half of the appetizer, and half of the dissert, and did not touch the specialty at all. The waiter put them in a box and I ate that for a whole day! But my American colleagues finished them all there.

Actually, what impresses me most is their friendliness and hospitality. Passers-by say hello to us. Whenever we enter a store, the assistants there say "how are you today". Every morning I get to the office building, the receptionist says "have a nice day". In China, we seldom talk to strangers. On the roads, drivers let pedestrians walk across the road first.

Credit is the basis of business. For reendorsement of my airline ticket, I just called the airline company and told them my credit card number, expiration date and the authorization code, the fee was charged and I did not have to go there in person. In Kroger, I can check out wihout a cashier.

In the office, the Americans talk very loudly. But in fact, most of my colleagues work in the home office. In the project status update meeting, sometimes they tell jokes. I remember that once one of them said: ... so that I will not take too much of your time. And the person replied: No, that's not allowed. Cultural differences do exist, and it is hard for us Chinese to tell such jokes.

Do they have a life? I guess some people don't. Some of my colleagues start to have meetings since 5 am, and works late into the night. Most of my US colleagues are from C&I, which stands for consulting and integration. But sometimes I say that it (the department, not the people) means crazy and insane, or cruel and inhumane. I do have a time when I am talking about all kinds of deliverables that I take charge of, then I would say, I am supposed to do a bit of everything, because I'm C&I: clever and insightful. It means I start to know the US culture, I believe. And I am pretty happy about that.

It is said that US is a society characterized by money worship. Let's take a look at the TV commercials, which are pretty straight-forward. 2 for $5. Buy one, get one free. The slogans of stores/supermarkets: Dress for less. Save money, live better. Right store, right price... Maybe it is a very diversified society and the citizens come from all over the world. There are many low-income families. But anyway, they are lucky. The commodities are very cheap, so cheap that each of us buy more than our credit cards would allow. $700 for a Thinkpad T61, which is beyond imagination in China, even though Thinkpads has been bought a Chinese company.

Is it good to be rich? One of the core developers of our project is called Rich. I guess he is more than 60, and still works with complex scripts 8 hours a day, 5 days a week. Sometimes I say, "It sucks to be rich".

Atlanta is a city in southern US. I don't remember which is correct, 55% of the people in Georgia or Atlanta are the black people. They are hard-working and friendly. Sometimes, our colleagues play basketball with them. But of course, they player than we do. Before we came to the US, we were suggested that we never get involved in racial or religious issues.

One morning, I overslept, and was late for the 8:15 and 8:30 shttle bus. Anyway, the shuttle buses run between 7:15 and 9:00 in the morning. When I got on the bus, there were only five people. Three of them were Indians, the driver, and me. After he dropped off the three Indian, he drove me to the office.

I was looking out of the window when the driver asked me, "What are you doing this Sunday? Going to the church?" "No, I'm going shopping." I answered. "Have you ever heard of Jehovah's Witness"? "No, I'm sorry I haven't." Then I realized that he was talking religion with me. Then he said that a Chinese read a book, and then believed in so and so. After he finished, I said: "Most Chinese are atheists. Some Chinese believe in Buddhism, but I do not believe in after-life." "You will believe it one day." He said. Then I thought I should change the topic: "How long have you been working for this hotel?" ...

Since then I warned my colleagues not to talk about religion with him. One day, in the morning, after he drove us to the office building, he opened the door, and I was the last to get out. He said, "I have a book in Chinese and I don't know what it means. Can you tell me what it is written in it?" Then he handed over the book to me. I took a look, and I realized it was a religious book. "Sorry, I have to go to work. I will talk to you later. Bye and have a nice day." With these words, I walked quickly into the office building.

Since then, he didn't talk about religion with me or my colleagues any more. Maybe he has given up, and I hope so. Anyway, he is a good man, and I will take a picture for him before I leave.

To be continued...
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