My lovely wife thinks I am being very grumpy.
The good news is that she isn’t saying I am a grumpy OLD man. It would of course be accurate to describe me as old, but, hey, I am not ready to give up yet. I can still use that wonderful line, what is it………yes, perhaps I am as old as the woman I feel?
As I have said, the service in America is fantastic, so long as it is being delivered in the private sector. The US Government, in its many forms, is a bureaucratic nightmare.
Two weeks ago we discovered that I needed a Colorado Driving License. We only found this out when finally getting close to taking out a car lease. We had eventually found a good car broker, and a Japanese car company who would finally take us on. They were all a little bit confused when I agreed to the lease without having driven the car, but, hey, I didn’t have time. And sorry John, I didn’t really care enough.
But then Heather discovered that I needed to have a Colorado driving license in order to register the car. And that anyone moving to Colorado to work needed a local driving license within 30 days……and no-one had told us. I was driving illegally.
At this point, Vrinder from our UK office had arrived to tie up his move to the US, and so off we went to the driving license centre. We needed to take the driving test, first the theory, and then the practical.
At this stage I have to explain that I had a panic attack. We were driving from a conference north of Denver, Vrinder driving, while I looked up the driving test. And then I realised that I couldn’t answer the questions, they had rules, and I didn’t understand them.
So we did the 42 page Colorado driving manual on the I25 freeway from Broomfield to Littleton. It is not ideal reading aloud from an iPhone, but you make the best of these things. But the good news, being old, it is perhaps best to do the learning immediately before the test.
But when did I last do a test? I was terrified.
So we took our “deli queue” ticket, and sat there for an hour. We took the written test, although it nearly went pear shaped when the man asked Vrinder and I to stop comparing answers. We both got 92%……high fives, big smiles. No cheating.
And then the nice lady checked me on the immigration computer, and it all went wrong……again.
Let’s cut it short, skipping rapidly over another 2 hour wait in another US Government office to prove I am who I am (…..a free man….). And now I have my driving test booked, 40 years of driving, but they want to give me a test. The 16 year olds here don’t get a real test, anyone coming in from Spain or Germany don’t get a test…….can I remember how to parallel park? I can tell you that most Americans simply have no idea.
And that is why I am grumpy. Well partially.
The biggest difference in our lives is the lack of friends, and a lack of a centre to the community. We have made some good friends in America, there are some lovely people here, but it isn’t the same. There aren’t any pubs in middle class, middle America, there is no-where to congregate. Life is very family focussed, and in other places, very religion focussed. Not that there is anything wrong with family, or religion, but there are no places where you pop in and happen to meet your mates. Yes, did I say there are no pubs?
We all miss our friends, places to go, rubbish to talk about. Just chatting. Shared experiences.
Yesterday was Thanksgiving, a curious American holiday celebrating the time that the Puritans arrived in the new world, and sat do to eat with the existing residents to celebrate their new life. And then, of course, the immigrants gave the locals diseases that killed them, and then eventually they killed the rest. A lot to be thankful for really.
But we got invited round to our neighbours for dinner, a fantastic meal of turkey and lots of trimmings. And then we went down the road to another house for drinks, and good laughs. Yes, lots of friendly and funny Americans, who made us very welcome.
Not like old friends, but progress in our American Adventure…..apart from terrible queues in government offices.