So, for background-
I moved to Texas in the United States of America and lived there for 6 months in 2000. I was 10 years old at the time.
Can I let you in on something? Something I find absolutely hilarious?
The first time that our new neighbours came to visit, they drove. They genuinely got into their Chevy and drove the fifty metres to our house to say hello and welcome us to the neighbourhood. They were nice people, don’t get me wrong, but the fact that they burned up fossil fuels to travel a short walking distance made us realise that we were in not just another country, but in another world.
The people were nice, don’t get me wrong. Texans are the most welcoming people I have ever met. They never like to see somebody hungry, and they are very relaxed people who have a mañana attitude most of the time. They just happen to have massive portion sizes. I have since visited the USA and let me tell you, even when compared to other states (I’ve visited New York, Connecticut, Maryland, New Jersey, Florida and California), the portion sizes are huge. What we’d call a large burger in the UK is what Texans would define as small! Well, to be fair, for the most time, this is true. Austin however, seem to worry more about their arteries and general health. Plus, their attitude towards keeping fit is better than it is in most places that I’ve visited in the USA. I unfortunately, spent most of my time in Houston.
Please don’t misunderstand me here. Houston has a brilliant mixing pot of cultures, and if you’ve never been there, I highly recommend you take a trip. Their food is awesome (if not GIGANTIC), the people are lovely (albeit mainly conservative Christian), and it never seems to be cloudy over there, just very hot.
I digress… getting a little off-topic here.
The one thing people had to get used to over there was my walking to and from school. Now the school I went to over there was less than a mile’s walk away from where we resided, but the first day, second, and pretty much every day of the school “semester” (funny word for term) people offered me a lift to school.
By far the funniest experience we had over there in regards to cultural difference had to be going to a cinema. For legal reasons, I shan’t mention which one, as I fear the person involved may still work there, and she turned out all right in the end.
We’d gone to watch a film (I can’t remember which one, due to the sheer hilarity of this event), had popcorn and everything. It was just between Thanksgiving and Christmas, and it was about 25 degrees Celsius. The sun was shining, and the locals were wrapped up in coats and scarves. Overall, the day was a lovely one for anybody British in Houston.
On our way out of the Cinema (what was generally referred to as a Movie Theatre- I don’t know why when Houston ha got a theatre district that rivals Broadway), we cheerily waved at the person behind the ticket counter. Her eyes, normally small, went wide open. To this day, I have never seen somebody jump out of a booth as quickly as this twenty-something did. It was only eclipsed by the following exchange.
“Wow, don’t you have coats for those children, sir? It’s freezing cold outside! Oh, for god’s sake!” (She takes off her work fleece and wraps my little sister in it)
Before any of us could answer and explain that we came from England, and for us, this was a heatwave, she carried on.
“You ought to be ashamed of yourselves! You have come to the movies in the middle of winter and not one of you is wearing a coat! Well, it’s all right for you (gesturing at my father, who was a big man, even by Houston’s standards), but what about the children! The tall one on the crutches (I have Cerebral Palsy, and needed to use crutches for most of my childhood) is so skinny! How on earth is he supposed to keep warm in shorts and T-shirts! Right, that’s it! I’m getting the manager!”
Reflecting on this, it has to be said that the woman had her heart in the right place, and we were grateful that she didn’t call the police, but it was still a stupidly over-the-top reaction for us Brits.
My father, who wasn’t exactly the master of diplomacy, held his hands up to get her attention, and politely explained about our nationality and the heat. For me, it was sweltering hot anyway. The woman, as soon as she’d heard our accents, became incredibly apologetic, and we became good friends for the rest of our stay. I still laugh about it, even today.
This is the end of part one, of which there will be several parts published in the oncoming weeks. I hope you found this as funny as we did.