Winding my way through the narrow, up-and-down streets of Highgate Hill in Brisbane, I finally admitted to myself that I was lost, really lost. It turned out that I had missed the turnoff for my destination by one street, which left me flying around the local streets at a speed way above that which was sensible, manically shuffling a couple of sheets of paper with the googlemaps directions on them desperate to return to a street I could recognize. Half of the streets had no sign at all and others were so sneakily hidden by overhanging foliage or the (presumed) misdeeds of the city’s youth that I was going to have a hard time getting anywhere near a recognizable landmark.
No big deal, I found my way to my destination eventually… right? Well, kind of. For years I’ve been complaining incessantly to anyone who’ll listen about the woeful street signs in the US and how misleading they can be. The truth is that although they can be confusing, the numbered street system in the US is very practical, if unimaginative; you’d have to be numerically and logically challenged to get lost there. My years of whining and moaning had no basis in reality, my memory of easily navigating around Brisbane from friends place to friends place achieved through familiarity, with precious little help from the available signage.
Well thats all very well, but inadequate road signage wasn’t my only complaint, far from it… “it’s too cold and wet, American Football is boring and a made-for-television sport… and when are they going to take all of those bloody pads off? Why can’t that game be played with one team? Do they have to have a specialist bloke for everything? Why can’t I take my kids to a family area in my local pub? Any pub? And when I’m having a few too many with friends the pub closes waaaaaaay too early. I wouldn’t think of going out to a club in Australia before 10pm, in the US its closing before I get started. Why does everyone check my ID when entering any liquor licensed venue? I’m 44, they even ID my Dad. My DAD for God’s sake. Do we have to have a local election for everything? to approve an increase in funding for schools? Really? Public transport sucks. How could you prefer Oreos over Tim Tams? Are you lot alright? And Hershey’s is glorified cocoa. Why don’t you try some real chocolate? Why are parents so overbearingly protective of their kids? They’ll be ok going down to the local park (three blocks away) by themselves ya know, they’ll survive. Oh and while you’re at it… don’t tell me how to parent… it won’t go down too well. I’m allowed to because… ummm because ummm I’m Australian. What is it with the gun thing? What is it with the hunting thing? What is it with pronouncing ‘herb’ ‘erb’? Why can I not get anything in a restaurant that isn’t smothered in cream, butter or cheese? Does anyone actually own a restaurant around here, or are they all franchises? How much is the minimum working wage??? You’re kidding. IN AUSTRALIA, I was earning that when I was sixteen! What is it with the insurance industry? You call that a beach, no,no,no… that’s brown saltwater fringed by rocks. Ummm its 10 degrees celsius, why are you wearing a t-shirt,shorts and sandals/flip flops? Is there a decent-sized park anywhere near here? Why don’t you guys travel?
On and on and on I’d go.
Whether my complaints, and this is by no means all of them, were based on fact or personal bias, I whined. I whined a lot… I had become that which I despise… a complaining, whining, miserable WHINGING POM. Ohhh the shame.
At least, at the very end I managed to do what is the standard recommended advice to all whining bastards… I went home, somewhere I’d clearly prefer to live. Which is something the vast majority of American’s (as much as I like them, and I do like them) could simply not understand.