I will always remember my very first day in the US. I arrived in Florida and worked near Miami. I asked where was the closest supermarket and I was told the nearest Wal-Mart was about 30 minutes away by bus. I asked if I could walk there and I was told “nooo, it’s too long a walk”. On my phone it was about 15 minutes away, so I happily put on my brand new little white shoes and went on my shopping trip.
15 minutes it was but there was NOWHERE to walk. Not one sidewalk, not one bicycle lane, nothing. I walked on the side of a road for about 5 minutes and suddenly I was confronted with two massive motorways. I tried walking by the side of it, a little farther away, in the grass. It was uncomfortable and loud and after about 5 minutes I feel into a puddle of mud, up to my knee. So much for the pretty white shoes.
Then I came to the point where I was forced to cross those motorways. I had to run across them, it was highly dangerous and probably incredibly illegal. I arrived at Wal-Mart exhausted, sweaty and disgusting. And that was just one way.
But that’s the way it is in the US. There is just nowhere to walk because, well, let’s face it, no one wants to. I found that the lifestyle was, for the most part, very lazy. Everybody owns a car there, because that’s the only way to get around. And then their whole system is built around that. I went to a burger place one time, and wanted to go to the ice cream place across the road for dessert, and there was LITERALY no way for me to walk there, I had to take the car and DRIVE those 100 meters. And since they are driving everywhere, they are getting pretty reluctant about leaving their cars. That’s probably why they have drive-in for everything. And I do mean everything. Drive-in for MacDonald’s and burger king, ok, fine, we have those in Europe. Drive in for Starbucks, well, why not. I mean, the line was always so long that if you would have just PARKED your car, walked out, ordered your coffee, walked back, you would have been 10 minutes faster than just waiting in the drive-in line, but I guess that’s just too much commitment for coffee.
I saw a drive-in for an electric company, so you can pay your bill from your car. Drive-in for the post office. Drive in for ATMs. So you can get into your car and, without once getting up from it, get cash, spend it at the fast food place, get a coffee for dessert and go home. All of that from the comfort of your leather seats and AC environment. Well. After all. Isn’t that what we are talking about when we are yearning for the American dream ?