Sunday, August 24, 2008

More stateside observations....

Yowsa...I can't believe it's been a whole month since my last entry. We're getting into the swing of things, and just when I think I'm getting used to the whole American thing, something crops up that surprises the Italian in me. Here we go with three more Americanisms:

1. We bought a car--on a Sunday. If you're American, you're probably wondering why this is on my list. If you're Italian, you're thinking that the word "Sunday" must be a typo.

In Italy, you'd be hard-pressed to buy a liter of milk on a Sunday. Well, you could, but you'd have to go out of your way to one of the larger grocery store chains, because everything else is closed.

But a car?? That's right. We saw it on the Internet at a car dealer, called Friday night, went to see it on Saturday, liked it, made a deal, returned on Sunday to sign the paperwork and drive our new car home. Just like that. And did I mention it was a Sunday?

2. Walk-in freezer--I've heard of these things, but had never been in one until I went to Shopper's Food Warehouse the other week. I was stuck in the cereal aisle with my indecisive kids (why can't they make up their minds? There are only 246 kinds to choose from...) while my husband went to pick up some beer. He couldn't find it, so we headed off together. We finally found it--in a walk-in freezer the size of a 7-11 store, I swear. My (Italian) husband opened the door, stuck one foot inside, withdrew his foot, closed the door, and said: "I'm not going in there. It's freezing!"

If you're new to this blog, or Italian culture in general, you might not know that Italians don't like cold (or even cool) breezes blowing on them-especially on their neck. Over the door to this freezer was a machine that was spewing Arctic air on anyone who dared enter this beer tundra. So I left my husband standing there with the kids and braved my way through the doors. Before the door shut, I heard my daughter say, "I want to go with Mommy!" I turned back to see my husband grasp her hand and shake his head, then look at me like I was going off to Siberia. I got the beer, then headed back into the slightly less-frigid air-conditioned store. And I didn't even catch pneumonia.

If the Italian government wants to put an end to alcoholism in Italy, all they have to do is install one of these walk-in-freezers wherever alcohol is sold. No one would enter. I'm not kidding.

3. I know I've spoken of waiting-in-line etiquette before, but I was still surprised the other day when I was in line at the grocery store, and a cashier opened up a new line right next to mine. I was third in line, with two people behind me. I was ready for the mad dash, but when I turned to the newly-opened line, no one was there yet.

"Just my luck!" I thought. "No one else heard the cashier say the line was open!"

As I glanced at the person behind me to size up my competition before sprinting away, the lady behind me said: "Please, go right ahead."

All the sprint wooshed out of me. "Are you sure?" I said.

"Of course," she replied. "You're ahead of me." And she was right. I was ahead of her.

In Italy, I would have had my toes run over by the cart-pushers mowing me over from behind.

Here in America, grocery shoppers' toes are safe. Just watch out for those walk-in-freezers.