Diary of an Ex-Expat, Part 6
Shopping, San Francisco, etc.
Americans are loud.

First off, I kind of forgot about writing an update this week. I have been in the United States, so I haven't really had anything new to say about Germany. As before, I am going to focus instead on the differences I experience when I land and confront this new strange "America" place.

So let's see.

I went on a walk early in the morning in San Francisco — 4AM or so, down around Powell Street. I had just finished crossing the street when a man ran up to me, screamed "DON'T PUSH ME! DON'T PUSH ME! STOP PUSHING ME!" and then began kicking the everloving shit out of a mailbox.

This doesn't happen in Germany, because we have a functioning social safety net through which people like that don't fall through the cracks. Similarly there are far fewer people sleeping in doorways or on grates in Berlin, and fewer people panhandling. So there's that.

On the plus side, I had forgotten how much I do, on occasion, enjoy driving. I got to drive a ridiculously gorgeous car:

This is the way to drive San Francisco, btw


From Noe Valley down to South Beach and then back — lovely, ridiculously fun way to see the city. I got there from the airport by train, naturally, but the rest of it was walking or driving that damned car, and that was a blast. So there's that.

Americans are loud. That's another difference. Not just crazy people on the street; Americans don't think anything of shouting across a gondola in the supermarket, either. Or of striking up a conversation in any given random line — which actually, I have to admit, I did kind of miss. It's not the sort of thing I had thought that I would miss? But Germans keep to themselves so often it can be a bit... jarring.

They are also loud with their automobiles or motorcycles.

German supermarkets are so, so much better. The variety of food is better and the quality-per-price is better, even shopping at a place like Trader Joe's or Sprouts. I picked up some dates, because I love dates, but it turns out that being close to the Mediterranean has its advantages, datewise.

Um.

Oh! Amazon isn't quite as useful over here, which is a bit saddening. Two-day shipping is a little less conducive to the impulse buy than next-day or same-day shipping. Maybe that's because Americans still like going out to shop, and I'm not clear exactly that Germans really do. Berliners certainly like owning things, and they like shopping as a concept, but I gather that they'd be just as happy ordering everything for delivery and getting on with their lives.

Here, the shopping mall is still practically a temple, and you can go to find yourself ensconced in the warmth of consumerism, and the quiet, cheery beckoning of shiny objects. And Cinnabon, because Americans are still rather prudish and don't allow you to putter around with a glass of mulled wine.

What you cannot do in Germany, however, is thrift store hopping like is possible here. The first place I went in San Francisco was Out of the Closet. Four very lovely shirts and three pairs of pants: $46. How can you beat that?

I do see that San Francisco (and Boulder) have started charging people for grocery bags. Good. Hoping to see this come to the rest of the country soon, because that's a damned good idea. Even if they do go ahead and still bag your groceries, because they are trained professionals.

You may have noticed that this is disjointed and rambling, and that is because I'm on vacation, so my brain is turned off. I'm going to go back and be on vacation now, because America is a lovely place to visit :3
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