Diary of an Ex-Expat, Part 7
Minor gripes
So I'm in the United States for another week longer than I'd planned. Right at this point I was supposed to be on a 747 descending into Heathrow for my transfer to Berlin Tegel Airport. Instead, I'm sitting in a hotel room in California, so I'm going to take the opportunity to muse on things that I am currently missing from Germany, and which I will miss more strongly in the coming days.

For example, I miss the easy, cheap availability of good organic food. The fact that I can walk across the street from my apartment and pick up, say, a half-kilogram of really awesome dates is something I had taken for granted, until I discovered that dates in America are a) not as good and b) more expensive.

Americans are slowly waking up to some aspects of European life, one of which involves increasing the quality of food that is generally available. So it's certainly possible to buy local produce, even in a city like Denver — at least, such produce as is grown in that state. Milk and butter, and eggs, and things like that. Fewer kiwifruit.

I also miss the easy, cheap availability of public transport. I'm staying in a hotel close to my office, which is 30 miles away from the airport. I could either take a cripplingly expensive taxi fare, or for the exact same price as a cab to and from the airport I could rent a car for four days. Alternatively I could take CalTrain, and then even still need to find a way to get between the closest commuter rail stop and the hotel. It's not ideal.

However. The thing that is bothering me most strongly at the moment is the absence of double glazing. Americans, who are used to cheap energy, believe that thermoregulation of their houses should come from heating and air conditioning units. In Europe, where there is no air conditioning, insulation tends to be preferred — my apartment stayed relatively cool even in the summer, courtesy of being coupled to the massive heat sink that is the ground.

Double-glazed windows have a thin layer of inert gas between them, which serves effectively to prevent temperature loss through the windows. Also, you know how when you close your window, you can still hear everything that's going on outside? That's not like a law of nature or anything, it's just because American windows are shit. I can close the windows in my apartment in Germany and the construction noise right outside disappears.

Here, on the 3rd floor of a hotel, I can listen to a couple outside slowly destroy their relationship through an improper understanding of geography. Even though I have no desire to listen to them shouting at 7 in the morning, I can tell that they have sharply misjudged the distance from Santa Clara to San Francisco. They have also misjudged the climate.

Now, these are physical properties of the landscape. That San Francisco is not a tropical paradise is not the fault of Jake/"such an asshole about it"/"always get like this" and that there is no particularly painless way to get to Coit Tower from here is not under the control of "your idea"/"fine, be that way." But I get to listen to them anyway, and that was my alarm clock this morning.

On the other hand, it doesn't really matter how much I like or don't like being in the United States. I have to go back to Germany soon anyway, because I cannot afford to stay. This is because Deutsche Bank has a way of deciding that I no longer need access to any of my money, and then smiles indulgently and does nothing when I ask them to please give it back.

So there is that. At least in the United States I can be reasonably certain that my phone call will be answered by someone in the business of pretending that they care about me, rather than (more honestly) telling me to grow the fuck up and move back to Deutschland if I want to use a Deutsche bank.

Also I'm not entirely thrilled with how San Francisco has implemented their bag law. They charge you for bags, which is cool. But then the only bags they offer are paper ones, which is sorry. Paper bags get soggy and useless when it rains, which only happens all the goddamned time in San Francisco. I would prefer the German system of heavy reusable plastic bags, which then double for garbage bags if you are suitably industrious.

But that's about it. I am looking forward to going back home, though. On reflection, I've been coming to realize that I don't mind not understanding what people are saying nearly as much as I thought I would.
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