Thursday, November 4, 2010

Cultural differences exist in the same country

Mom was with me as we road tripped across country to Orlando, Florida. A two day drive, but it was good time to spend together. I think my favorite seen was when we finally got to Florida, we stopped at the Florida Welcome Center for a couple maps and our free glass of orange juice. But as we pulled up, it was me, mom, and everyone else over the age of 65. My favorite sight: Grandma driving, Grandpa riding shotgun with a flat-brimmed baseball cap on, handicapped sticker hanging on the rearview mirror, and a bird in the birdcage in the backseat. Oh, God bless the Snowbirds!

I’ve noticed a lot of differences in the last month that I’ve been here compared to my Midwest upbringing:

  • The grass is different. I don’t know how to describe it. It’s so full and thick, the blades are wider but not as soft.
  • There’re palm trees- you just don’t see those in the Midwest.
  • Town houses (like what I live in) are everywhere. It must be the way to go in Orlando.
  • Alligators are supposedly the deer of the south- but I still haven’t seen one yet =(
  • An armadillo is the raccoon roadkill of the south. I saw one the other day when I was with my co-worker. I got a little excited- yes, I’m new. She told me to make sure not to hit them with your car, though, because if you’re going fast, they can overturn your car because of their rock-hard shell.
  • Okay, then there’s the road rules. Driving in a city has its own set of rules. On more than one occasion, I’ve come home and drawn out a scenario for my roommate and asked her how you’re really supposed to handle such a situation. For example, if you’re turning right on red, there’s usually a sign posted to say if it’s not allowed. But if there’s no sign, and it’s a red arrow, then doesn’t that imply you shouldn’t turn? I’d think so, but not here. If it’s a red arrow and you yield to oncoming traffic, then go ahead and turn on right…I guess. And if you’re in a turn lane, what’s the point of using your turn signal? Nobody does here, not even the cop I saw yesterday. And U-turns: they are everywhere and are legal; that also requires a learning curve.
  • Along with driving, when mom and I were coming down here driving through some of the major cities, we came across those wacko drivers who are speeding 20+ miles over the limit and weaving in and out between vehicles across multiple lanes. I would see someone make such a move, and say, “Oh my gosh! What an idiot! What’s he doing?!” Well, after only a couple weeks in Orlando, I’ll be driving and when I see such a situation, I’ve noticed my attitude has changed slightly. Instead of being ticked by someone’s stupidity, I find myself in admiration, with a slight chuckle to myself saying, “Hey, nice move man. Impressive.”
  • I’ve also noticed them temptation to fall into the sin of road-rage. I haven’t cursed anyone out yet, and I’m pretty sure that’s not really part of my nature, but I’ve noticed a slight increase in irritation.

Well, more differences and observations to come I’m sure.

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