NAIROBI, KENYA—I recently was in the United States for a business plan competition (in which we placed second! Whoop Whoop!). And it was the first time that I experienced culture shock in the United States. I felt so out of place. I kept thinking “I must be doing something wrong, I must be breaking some rule.”
First of all, everyone drives on the wrong side of the street in the US. Second, when I get to a cross walk there are literally, tons of signs. Walk. Don’t Walk. No U Turns. Stop on Red. School Zone. One Way. Then there are zebra crossings on the road and the people around me seem to know that there are certain times when one should be on the zebra crossings and when not to.
Then there are things called speed limits in the US. And my passengers would tell me things like, “Kyle you know it is a 65 MPH zone, don’t you?” Yes, but what does that mean? Should I go 65? Or 105? And what is a mile anyways?
See in Kenya it is much easier and I hope that the US might one-day advance to the level of Kenya. If the policeman says “Go” you go. If the policeman says “Stop” you go. Easy, see? If there are no cars coming you walk across the street. If there are cars coming, you walk across the street. See how beautiful that is? I was in DC and I put one toe on the street when a car was coming and nearly caused an accident the way the driver hit the brakes. Ridiculous.
And when I go to Famous Footwear and want to buy a pair of shoes can I negotiate for better deal? Can I get it for half price if I trade in the ones I am wearing? And if the clerk behind the counter looks nice and a little hungry, will he take offense if I offer him half of my banana? Do you see how complicated the US is? Do you see how COM PLI CA TED it is! When I wanted new curtains for my apartment, I took the old ones down and traded them in for a better price than I bought them for.
Simple is beautiful.
Now let me quiz you so you can see how complicated you are:
Question 1: If you are stuck in traffic and the lane going the other way is largely clear you should
- Wait all day in your lane behind a bunch of other cars that aren’t moving or
- Drive down the lane that people in the US would term the “wrong way”
The right answer is b. Duh!
Question 2: If you park your car outside of a club at night and the boy on the street implies that he will key your car if you don’t pay him 50 cents you should
- Take him to the police station, wait for 2 hours for the policeman to finish his beer and pay 2 dollars for a police abstract and 1 dollar for submission fee or
- Give the boy 50 cents.
The US is so complicated. People in the US are more “free” and yet they can do less. Let me say this: I am glad I am back in Kenya. At least I can be sure that when a taxi driver says the fare is $6, I know it is $3. It’s soooo simple! Do you see what I mean yet?