Things American movies don’t teach you about life in New York
New York is expensive. Really expensive. This coming from someone who grinned and bore it for three years in London. What gets to me is not that all the food, and the cosmetics, and all other everyday items are at least a third, if not twice as expensive as in Europe. No, what truly gets to me is that once I have reconciled myself to paying an outrageous amount for something I would otherwise starve / die / cry without, I get to the check-out – and they add a sales tax there, too. Anywhere between 4% and 9% as far as I can tell, although it’s a bit of a mystery still. I could weep as I shed the cash, I swear.
Oh and another thing. You get to the US, and decide roaming will cost you an arm and a leg – so you get a local pay-as-you go mobile phone sim. (AT&T, in my case). You insert it, you text your one New York friend, and you get a message from the network provider that it has cost you 20c. All grand so far. But here comes the good part: aforementioned friend texts you back – to congratulate you on getting an American number (!) – and seconds afterwards… you get a message from the network provider that it has cost you 20c. I kid you not. Unlike in Europe, where the sender pays and the recipient doesn’t, in the US you get charged for incoming and outgoing texts. And calls. And for just looking at your phone, I imagine.
And since we’re on the topic of sh**ty things, let me wax lyrical about American toilets. Their bowls are filled with water almost to the brim in readiness for what is to come – which certainly makes things interesting, to say the least. Their toilet paper – why it is as fine as Japanese rice paper, as thin and fragile and see-through as ancient Egyptian papyri. Their two taps for hot and cold water are less extremist than their British counterparts though – which sort of cause either scalding or frostbite on a regular basis – and for this I am mightily thankful.
Last but not least, I’ll try, if not to debunk, then merely to make a humble addition to an old stereotype. People say Americans have a predilection towards being loud. Well, I say, (for a minute ignoring the sweeping nature of that statement) what they also have is exceptional, super-hero type fine hearing. I have so far encountered at least five separate people who heard what I said to them even if it was a) mumbled b) drowned by some other noise c) barely heard by myself. It’s uncanny. And so cool!