I now live in Las frickin’ Vegas!
What a massive cow shit of a difference from Crawley in England.
We arrived on Tuesday and it’s now Thursday, so I’ve had a little time to get my bearings. I know I have a lot left to experience, but even in this short time I have some early observations that I want to share.These observations will be separated into three headings; Driving, Shopping and “Oh, you’re From England?”
It all looks so easy. The roads are about three times as wide as those in England, most of the cars are automatic and the speed limits are lower…so by rights it should all be smooth and easy.
There are no road markings! Ok, I exaggerate, there are a FEW road markings, but only a fraction of what I’m used to in England. This makes junctions mildly terrifying.
Also, they don’t really make it clear that a lane is ending on the three lane road you’re on, despite the fact that the road doesn’t actually narrow in width. For a guy like me who is used to specific lanes (WITH road markings), it gets a little unnerving that you’re now effectively driving on a lane and a half.
Then, out of nowhere, the lane you’re in suddenly becomes a mandatory left or right turn with minimal warning and you’re somehow expected to deal with it without impaling yourself on the massive 18 wheeler in the correct lane!
Over here it’s all about signage. Small postage stamp sized signs with full sentences to read, positioned in obscure places tucked away out of your field of vision. Well, except for ‘STOP’ signs; they’re EVERYWHERE! In addition, they require a mandatory stop, even if you can see that there aren’t any cars coming for miles around.
These octagonal bastards are used a lot at four-way junctions (or ‘intersections’) where the rule is: ‘The first person who gets to the junction and stops is the first person who gets to go’. I suppose it makes some kind of vague sense until you arrive at an intersection the exact same time as someone else; then it becomes some kind of weird Mexican stand off.
I miss simple ‘Give Way’ road markings.
Then there are the traffic lights. Where do I start?
In the UK they play a simple role; red for ‘Stop’ and green for ‘Go’ (with amber as the transition between them). In Las Vegas they seem to have different rules depending on which junction you’re at, whether it’s a Thursday or if your star sign has the moon rising in Aquarius.
For example, you should stop at a red light if you’re turning right, right? Nope, you CAN turn right at a red light, that is UNLESS the microscopic sign fifteen feet above you tells you ‘No turn on red’; that’s nearly caught me a few times.
Then if you’re turning left, you can obviously do so if the left arrow is green, and you can’t if it’s red….but if it’s flashing amber you can turn left providing the lofty sign says ‘Yield to Traffic’. Surely that means you have to stay still and let traffic pass? Nope, it means you can turn left providing it’s safe to do so.
Then there are flashing red lights that sometimes mean stop and sometimes mean there are lights ahead….or is that flashing amber?
Did I mention that if you’re in a lane designated for turning left or right, you STILL have to ensure your indicators are on.
Plus, the speed limits are laughable. Near our house it’s a 35mph limit on a road the size of a UK dual carriageway, which is 60mph. These are long, wide roads with plenty of room, so why so slow?
With the speed limits, Stop signs, unmarked roads and traffic lights from hell….it takes forever to get anywhere.
All this in a country where 32% of citizens own guns.
Still, one thing that the USA does do right with regards to motoring is the price of fuel and the fuel pumps that lock into place.
Although, if I hear Wiz Khalifa and Charlie Puth’s “When I See You Again” on the radio one more time, I’m going to make it 33%.
One of the things I wasn’t looking forward to in the USA was the sheer magnitude of adverts (or ‘commercials’) on the TV. Every 10 minutes, for 10 minutes.
I have to say the frequency of these interruptions is a bit annoying, but at least the adverts are better than those in the UK. American commercials tend to be funnier and more upbeat. Plus, hearing all the side effects of some miracle drug or another is just laughable.
‘Want to reduce your blood sugar? Ask your doctor about Fuckitol. Side effects may include dizziness, high blood pressure, impaired vision, rectal bleeding, the loss of one or more limbs, nasal collapse and excess navel hair. So ask your doctor about Fuckitol today”
Now, I know this next thing has been covered a million times on a million blogs, but adding tax to your purchase at the cash register sucks!
This is mildly annoying when buying clothes and stuff, but we bought a laptop at Best Buy and I got stung for $26 extra when I came to pay for it. At least in the UK you paid what it said on the label. I miss that already!
Today we went to Barnes and Noble, which is America’s answer to Waterstones. But that’s where the similarity ends. This ‘bookshop’ had (in addition to books) Movies, toys, movie merchandise, a café and restrooms. Yes, this bookshop had toilets! It seems that almost every shop (or ‘store’) in Las Vegas has toilets. This is where England gets it wrong.
No-one likes to shop on a full bladder (or bowel). Well done America, you win with regards to retail.
“Oh, you’re From England?”
No matter where we’ve gone over the last 3 days, as soon as someone hears my accent I get asked where I’m from.
Most correctly guess England; some still think it’s Australia.
As soon as they learn that I’m from England, they tell me they have a cousin/uncle/sister in law that either lives in England/Wales/Ireland (pick one), or originally comes from there.
I don’t care. Just give me my laptop.
My favourite (I can’t bring myself to use ‘favorite’ yet) encounter, however, was in Trader Joe’s; an organic and vastly overpriced supermarket. The cashier was loving my “British accent” and asked me “Is it always foggy in England?”
Yes, and Jack The Ripper still roams the streets of London.
Now, this is only after three days of being here. God only knows what experiences I’ll have going forward.
I can’t wait to find out.