The American Way

Otto and Øystein together with hotel manager Jon Handlery at Handlery Union Square Hotel in San Francisco

Two weeks hunt is over. Sally is returned to her rightful owners and we are scanning through the material we have gathered. More than 20 US citizens from various states have been interviewed. We have talked to business people and homeless, police officers and criminals, bus drivers and ranchers, many, many more.

The patriotism is still alive, of rather TOTALLY alive, as the Americans themselves probably would put it. We have heard homeless and disabled people tell us how much they love this country. I guess it could be argued that any citizen from any country would show signs of patriotism when a foreigner asks them to express their inner feelings about their own country. Still the lack of nuance surprises us. How can a person who most definitely has nothing to thank his country for, love that country?

But rather than trying to understand them maybe it is time for us to express some of our fresh impressions of the Americans and their American way.

We still think they are generous, friendly and welcoming. We still lover their cars (!), their Levis’, their hamburgers and their ideal of making it “The American Way”. It’s a nice ideal to have. Unfortunately it’s hardly anything but an ideal. You can make it if your parents already have. If not the chances are slim – very slim.

It also surprises us that most Americans seem to think of their country as incredibly free, compared to other countries, even if they never have set foot outside the States. Their lack of concern for the economic crisis is another strange phenomenon.

We are also sceptical to many sides of the American way of life. We question their super sized portions of food that no one ever can finish. We shake our heads when we see their super sized cars, with super sized engines that seldom transport more than one passenger. We don’t think much of the free capitalism that have paved the way for immense hotel chains, food chains, car rental chains and any other chain you can think of. It’s very hard to find an independent hotel or diner these days. The freedom of commerce actually limits the freedom of the consumer because of the chain dominance.

Sadly we have been caught in the American net ourselves. We have been driving a car far bigger then we need. We have been ordering super sized menus, knowing we will never be able to finish them (and being Norwegian the thought of bringing half cold and half eaten food home in doggy bag disgusts us). We have been staying at the cheap chain hotels, because they are cheap, making life even more difficult for the few independent ones that are still here.

My plane leaves in I minute, so I have to stop here, but I think that we have learned a lesson or two, both about ourselves and about the Americans. Hopefully the material gathered on this trip will be printed in a Norwegian magazine and then we’ll be able to deepen into this. Till then: Have a good one folks! Or as CBS star reporter and anchor Edward R. Murrow ended his reports with in the 50’s: Good Night, and Good Luck

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3 Responses to “The American Way”

  1. ‘You can make it if your parents already have. If not the chances are slim – very slim.” very astute observation. I enjoyed this post z

  2. PS There is a lot here I can agree with you on 🙂 There is another group of Americans here who think more like you. Maybe completely LOL

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