Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Days 27-29 of 90: Express America

It's been a slow past few days for me. I've been sending out my resume and filling out online applications so I thought I'd compile a shortlist of some of the things that I just can't get enough of from my almost 30 days here into my new life.

Drive-Thru Whatever

Janet and I had to deposit checks recently and as I computed our travel time and parking time and lining up at a teller time, I was shocked when she drove us through the side of our bank to a four-lane covered drive-thru. At the touch of her finger tips (on the driver's side of a vehicle), a vacuum tube spit out a plastic canister for us to place our deposit slips. The tube then shot back inside and returned to us in three minutes, received and stamped and ready to be credited the following day.

As we drove away, I couldn't help but be amazed at how efficient the whole thing was! My mind had been set on taking at least forty-five minutes.

Another day, we paid for the electricity the same way. One of my friends on Twitter sent me a message asking me if I had seen any drive-thru liquor stores! Apparently, you drive up, place your order, show your ID and voila, you drive home with your six-pack.

Self-Check Out Counters

You know how there are express lanes at the supermarket for baskets with twenty items or less? Here in the US, Americans have taken this express-ness even further with the Self-Check Out Counters for ten items or less.

After watching Janet do it at Wal-Mart one day, I was brave enough to try it out myself at our nearby Winn-Dixie. You simply swipe the bar code and the amount will appear on a touchscreen monitor while a voice will instruct you on what to do. You then place the item inside a bag. When you finish, you simply touch "Finished" on the monitor and the amount you owe will then be totaled. Payments can be in cash, credit or debit card.

Because I'm new at the whole thing, I tried removing a head of lettuce that I had just swiped on the bar code. The monitor said there was an error so naturally, I tried removing and re-doing what I had just done. As I reached inside the bag, the voice told me, "Do Not Remove Item". Whoa. How did it know?! It detected a shift in the bag's weight?! Or it saw me with its own eyes?!

A real person then came to my rescue and explained that it was just an error and to ignore it and then proceeded to swipe a card to correct the machine.

Bottom's Up

So the concept of fast food refillable drinks was something that I had missed at Burger King in the Philippines. I remember when the Galleria branch had just opened how one could go back as many times as they wanted for refills. That soon changed and the only place I remember getting refillable drinks was at a restaurant. Here though, almost every place I've been to so far has refillable drinks. It's almost been a month and yet I still find myself asking Janet if it's okay!

Have Internet, Will Do Almost Anything

It seems that almost everything here is or can be done online. I've walked into stores to ask about job openings only to be told to fill out an application on their websites. Borrowing books, magazines or videos from the public library? Do it online. Ordering a pizza? Do it online. Renting a car? Do it online. Paying for a magazine subscription? Do it online. I now understand the movie Die Hard 4.0 and why the US seemed doomed without John McClane's help. America does everything online!

Let Me Do the Dishes, Please

My favorite thing to do now in the US is anything that lets me play with the appliances. Dishwashers and washing machines and dryers are my new toys. I think it's because once upon a time, many, many years ago, I was a young wife who had to do chores with my hands every single day. But now that I have machines to do them for me, I love that all I need to do is throw stuff inside the said machines for them to do all the hard work!

Then again, the novelty could wear off.

Life in America for the most part has been mind-boggling, humbling. And I don't know if or when I'll get used to it. I can't wait to see how amazed Kyera will be.

I pray that it be soon. I miss her.

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