We spent most of Friday with my friend Laura. Chris experienced a series of fairly American firsts. The first of the firsts was a garage sale. Brighton in particular tended to be lacking in garages and therefore in garage sales. We explained how it worked to Chris, who went on to make a small purchase as a gift to my dad of a coffee holder made by his current favorite brand of coffee. Here’s some video:
A smaller first, but first number two, was Chris finally figuring out how to get a non-giant coffee that was more to his taste. If you want coffee of a more English style and strength, just order an small (which comes in 12 oz cup) Americano with half the water. Sorted.
First number three was seeing the inside of a camper. As someone who regularly camps, Laura seemed surprised to learn he’d never been in one. She took us to a dealership in West Salem to have a look. I had been in some, but not in years. There are some truly impressive models, many of which are both bigger and more comfortable than our flat in the UK.
After that, we went to Bangor and Chris’s first small town American bar for lunch. I think it was Laura’s equivalent of a local pub, but given not only is everything bigger in America, it’s usually further apart, it was still about a 20 minute drive to her house from there.
Laura’s house was on a truly massive plot of land which would have fit several dozen English houses. It only contained her house, some sheds and some old farming buildings they don’t use. Chris had a fantastically fun first there. He had his first go on a driving lawn mower. Fortunately on her piles of land, there was lots of space to drive around without any real risk of him running into anything. (That said, he is also a good driver generally, so I wasn’t actually especially worried).
Chris was sufficiently exhausted from all this that he actually took a nap for the first time since I’ve known him where he didn’t have the flu. This was fortunate since we had further social plans much later with my sister when she got off work at 9. Fortunately, by 9 he was more than up for going to one of his favorite chain restaurants in the US, Buffalo Wild Wings. In his still fairly dazed state, he decided to try the hottest wings on the menu, the Blazin’, which the menu recommends that you “keep away from your eyes, pets, children: The hottest sauce we got.” It was indeed. It was barely edible. Chris was sufficiently overpowered by it that he accidentally flung a small tub of ranch sauce on the floor while trying to get a piece of chicken out of it.
The next day, finally being well rested and in no way dentally unwell, we got to do some test driving. My sister kindly let us use her 2013 Dodge Charger while she was at work. We were very impressed. It has a very swish interior:
It was very comfortable and we are seriously considering getting the same thing or something similar but a bit bigger. The seats were comfortable – both fully adjustable with heaters on them, the navigation was very easy to use with its very responsive touch screen and it’s also just generally a good looking car.
We also had some very positive experiences with American customer service and returns. Chris had some shoes that he had bought last Christmas but they went a bit wrong. He had hardly worn them, and the woman had enough experience and thoughtfulness to recognize that. As a result, we got a new pair of shoes to replace them (plus a few more that are pretty flash, I must say).
We also had some shoes to take back to Kohls that I bought in a half asleep state, thinking they were 30% off when they weren’t, and she was so nice about it. I must admit I am enjoying beign back in American customer service. The UK is probably in the middle of the spectrum in that regard, and when it comes to returns like these – an honest mistake and something that went wrong but that couldn’t be returned in time due to living six time zones away – getting someone understanding is very much appreciated.