“Why don’t we just ban earthquakes while we’re at it? They kill people, too”
– A reply by some gun-nut to an article about gun control.
We’ve now been staying in New York for three months, the same duration as the total amount of time we spent living in Bonn, Germany. We love it here, but there are just so many things we’ll never understand. When we had been here for a month I wrote part one of this post, a post consisting of a bunch questions we had and things we were curious about here. Although I received no actual answers to those questions, I did receive some pretty threatening replies from some crazy Christian guy in Texas. Go on, click that link and scroll down to his comments, they’re insane.
But, in reality, I still haven’t really found answers, just more questions, however, let’s just get one thing clear; This is not a list of hates, dislikes, etc. It is a list of observations that we don’t understand and to which we are trying to adapt, observations such as:
- Why is it that shops that market themselves as selling “Wine and Spirits” aren’t allowed to sell beer?
We’ve been told that it is just state law, but nobody has been able to give us any real reason behind it. They are both alcohol, albeit beer much lower in content, it just doesn’t make any sense for a place that can sell wine and liquor to not be able to stock beer.
- Why does almost everybody pronounce the word “Ask” as “Aks”?
Education here definitely isn’t that bad and this isn’t a racial or minority thing, almost everybody does it. You could be the most intelligent person in the world, but if you can’t pronounce a simple three-letter word correctly, even if out of habit, then it will take a lot longer for people to see that brilliance in you. You might as well put “DJ” in front of your name.
Why are main courses on menus referred to as “Entrées”?
I understand that it is yet another differentiation between British and American English, but how did this one come about if they are using the same loanword from French? According to Dictionary.com:
1. a dish served before a main course
2. (mainly US) the main course of a meal
3. the power or right of entry
Word Origin C18: from French, from entrer to enter ; in cookery, so called because formerly the course was served after an intermediate course called the relevé (remove)
- Why does it cost the same price on the subway if you’re traveling one stop or to the end of the line?
“Bargain”, you are probably thinking, but US$2.70 is a bit rich if you’re only going a short distance. In the area we live, the stations are a lot closer together, in some cases about 300m (984′), but the temptation is there if it is cold or raining, as it has been recently. Yet, for the same price, you can catch the subway from here to Coney Island, 29kms (18mi) away.
- Why does the weather report have both the actual current temperature and the “real feel”?
I generally don’t watch the news because it is just depressing, but I’ve caught the weather a few times, particularly in summer, and on nice days they like to give you the “Real Feel”; How warm it feels compared to how warm it actually is. This is not a science, it is an educated guess.
This is an actual example, I remembered it because it was the first time I had heard of it and it was such a minute difference:
“The current temperature is 92°F [33.3C°], but the “Real Feel” is 94°F [34.4°C]”
That to me is the meteorological equivalent of Anna saying, “Hmm, I thought it was a bit warmer than that.” Well it’s not.
Will washed up celebrities plug absolutely anything here?
There’s Jennifer Aniston shilling water, Alan Thicke hawking insurance, Jeff Foxworthy telling us to eat at Golden Corral and my personal favourite, pictured to the left. I guess I already know the answer to this one and it is a resounding “Yes!!!”
- Why don’t the rear wheels on shopping trollies/carts turn?
When you are steering one down a narrow supermarket aisle, manoeuvring it around other shoppers or trying to move out of their way gets a little difficult, especially when it is busy.
- How can stores selling 99c pizza afford to stay open?
Pizza is everywhere here, they are quite large and rent in New York City is very expensive. There are many stores that sell pizza for 99c per slice, but even if you cut corners and used the shittiest ingredients, you wouldn’t make much profit on a huge pizza worth less than US$8:00, yet theses stores somehow manage to pull it off.
- Why can’t you move furniture into an apartment on a weekend?
This was one I forgot to add to part one of this post, but mentioned here. When we were all set to move into our apartment, we were informed that it had to be done on a weekday between the hours of 9:00am and 5:00pm. That means that, not only do you have to take a day off work, but if a delivery is late and comes after 5:00pm, they aren’t covered by the building’s insurance, so they have to come back another day and you have to take another day off work.
- How can microwavable, frozen ready-meals be labeled as “Fresh” or “Homemade”?
Maybe this just happens everywhere and I haven’t noticed because I eat actual food, but at the supermarket we go to the freezer aisle is en route to the cashier, so I really only noticed them yesterday while we were waiting in quite a long line.
How can magazines that are just blatantly making things up continue to do so without repercussion?
I may not be a lawyer, but I’ve watched more than enough Judge Judy in my time to know what ‘defamation’ means. In my high school’s art room we had a bunch of old copies of the National Enquirer, The Globe and other such publications. Why? I have no idea, but even then, as teenagers, we would look through them, screeching in our crackling, pubescent male voices, “They’re just making this shit up!” I graduated high school 18 years go and it’s still happening as you can see (right).
- Is marketing power saws to children for cutting pumpkins really a good idea?
I know it’s Halloween and people here really get in the spirit, but I can’t think of another situation where a parent could justify giving a serrated, electric saw to their six-year-old. That’s how old the kids on the packaging look, but even with adult supervision, the likelihood of an accident is extremely high.
These are all that come to mind at the moment, but, as was the case last time I made a similar post, I’m sure there will be more questions to come over our remaining nine months in New York. Again, these aren’t complaints or a list of dislikes, but just a table of objects and situations we are both still trying to wrap our heads around