As I was driving back from Hungry Jack’s (“Burger King” Aussie-ized) the other night, the full enormity of what I’d done really hit me, and I almost yelled at the old woman walking her dog, “Holy Shit! I live in a WHOLE other country! You believe this?!?”
I didn’t voice that thought, but that didn’t stop her from staring at me in wonderment anyway, and I realized that I may not have such a firm grasp of this whole driving-on-the-other-side-of-the-road business. That, or I’m nowhere near Australian Idol worthy with my rendition of “Bob the Builder” despite my intense passion and overwhelming volume.
For as much as it barely phases me that I’m now constantly called “Daddy” and wander the aisles of the liquor store singing, “BOB THE BUILDER, Can he fix it? Yes! He! Can!” it also takes a minute for me to grasp that things are soooooo different here.
I’d love to think that I would ever have the time to catalog and dissect every little amusing difference between the American and Australian cultures, (heh… “fanny”… ha ha… is NOT your “butt”) but it seems every time I’m stationary two little yard apes decide to clamber prehensile-ly across the walking playground that is Me. That or *cough* newlyweddy stuff. For our families sake I won’t elaborate. I stay busy with my new family, ’nuff said.
If I had to sum up the entire culture comparison, from the American’s point-of-view, in one word, I’d say, “informal.” Almost every freakin’ experience I’ve had in this country has been that… informal.
Stuck in traffic and can’t make it to the busyass doctor’s clinicky place on time for your appointment? No Worries Mate, call and they’ll wait for you.
Don’t have all the right forms together for Unemployment Compensation? No Wuckin Forries Mate, we’ll sort you out and give you some cash anyway.
Couple o’ crazies screaming vulgarities at each other through a crowded sidewalk café? Bah, they’ll sort themselves out via more alcohol or edged weapons.
They really don’t sweat much at all here, and it’s Awesome.
If I were given a single sentence to sum up the same cultural comparison, not allowing for my psychotic, it-puts-the-lotion-on-its-skin obsession with the use of the comma, nor for my complete, utter, and obnoxious disrespect of hyphens by creating one word out of twenty three, I’d have to say, “Australians trust you not to be stupid here and, if you are, they trust you to be tits up within 24 hours.”
The decided lack of warning labels on food, on store signage, and especially in the Perth Aquarium, give me a very confident sense that people here really don’t necessarily need to be told that they shouldn’t dump scalding hot coffee directly onto their privates, should watch their step when actually approaching a step, and not to put their hands into the sting-you-so-bad-your-momma-cries-for-a-week jellyfish tank.
Sharks will attack you, snakes will bite you, bluies will sting you, and spiders will spryly jump on your dick during a leisurely evening piss…
All can, and will, kill you very quickly, so just don’t be stupid.
I may be very obviously glorifying this strange land for my own sake, but Accountability for Your Own Actions is a concept I’m absolutely in love with.
Flash back to my trip to the renamed-because-Aussies-apparently-hate-anything-royal-sounding Hungry Jack’s and I realized that I’d driven for about 20 blocks, taken at least 4 turns, crossed two major intersections and had come across only a single “Stop” sign. Just one.
Not only that, but there weren’t any “Yield” signs either (though they say “Give Way” here… no kidding, “GIVE it sucker, DO IT”).
Brilliant. Absolutely Brilliant.
See? Here they trust you to actually LOOK when approaching an intersection and NOT blast out in front of large, metal, traveling-at-high-speeds contraptions creating twisted balls of flaming wreckage oozing human paste.
The only exception to this dearth of warning labels is packages of cigarettes which extremely explicitly enlighten at the top, in quarter-inch bold lettering no less, “SMOKING KILLS” and “YOUR SMOKING CAN HARM OTHERS,” and that’s just funny.
I believe this lack of signs is a sign.
It says, “You’re Home.”
I’d written the above before receiving notification that my visa has been approved! So all the brown-nosing I did above, even if I didn’t post it publicly yet, still paid off. When Jo and I are back in the States for X-mas, I’ll send my passport off to D.C. and they’ll stamp it, “Now an Aussie… sort of.”
It’s all set and we’re so excited that we tend to squeal like our little girl on Red Bull and constantly remind each other of the news, “Hey honey, guess what? MY VISA GOT APPROVED!” She nods, then replies, “That’s awesome baby, and know what else? YOUR VISA GOT APPROVED!”
Shoosh, we’re cute.