Bloke Who Brunches, Installment #2

It is literally DRIVING me mad. Or at least it was.

No, not the half hearted “Have a nice day” messages I get from the over worked and underpaid supermarket staff so drilled in “customer service” they sound like a monotone robot.

Nope, not even the size of printing paper over here. Printing paper? – I hear you ask. Yes, printing paper. Why can’t we have a universal size the entire world uses? Oh we do. Just everybody in the entire world except the USA. What is this 8.5″ x 11″ you talk of? You’re telling me I can’t even print out my CV (no, not a Resume) onto a glorious bit of A4? I seriously long for a bit of A4, no really, I do. I repeat, A4 paper size is the standard letter format of all countries in the entire world except the USA!!! Mr America, I know you like to be bigger, but come on, its f***ing paper.

(Although I do like the thought of Obama, at a United Nations conference, handing out the US update on the Iraq situation using his silly sized paper and Mr Cameron chuckling to himself thinking “…..even their paper is fatter than ours….!!”

Nope, not any of the above, quite simply, what is driving me mad is the actual driving out here. Not the fact you drive on the wrong side (before you kids start I am aware that 78% of the world drives on the so-called RIGHT side!) I can handle that, it’s fine, its just as a Brit I like some rules on a road.

I like to cruise along at a reasonable speed in my flat cap, listening to the Beatles, having a spiffing time, and when I see a light turn to red I slow down, apply my handbrake, and wish all the crossing pedestrians a jolly good morning. Chicagoans prefer to charge along at 50mph in a 30 mph zone, swerve across 3 lanes just to get one car ahead and upon seeing the light change red accelerate to get through it for fear the burger joint might shut (it won’t, it’s open 24 hours, everything is open 24 hours here), all the while continuously honking their horns at anyone who slightly breathes in their direction.

What’s with the horn honking over here?

I like rules. In the UK you sound your horn to warn other road users of your presence, or, just to be crazy, as an unwritten rule, sounding it to get someone’s attention. Here I just don’t get it.

My first day: Honk Honk, “Meagan, what is it, what’s he honking for? What have I missed?”

“No idea, dear”. Honk Honk.

“What now babe? Is there a ridiculously over-sized petrol guzzling vehicle trying to get past?”

“No idea, dear”. Honk Honk.

“Seriously what now?”

Meagan calmly, “Maybe they are just warning you they are there?”

Warning me?? I have got eyes and can see they are all the way over there in Lane 8 of this super highway, I’m in Lane 1, nearly 20 miles away. This is ridiculous. Honk Honk.

“OK now I’m pissed,” (sounding more American!). So I swerve across 3 lanes to give him something to really Honk Honk about, see the light has just turned red and accelerate to 50mph. “Damn I need a burger.”

My rage has past. I now drive like an American, fast, across lanes and aggressive. (OK I was a little like that before). I’ve settled into the mayhem, I no longer thank people for letting me out in traffic because no-one lets you out, you push in, with aggression. I don’t apologize for cutting people up or blocking an intersection because nobody does in Chicago. It’s just the way. Its what you do. Followed by a Honk Honk.

I no longer hear the Honk Honk’s. I join in now and again, just for fun. I pretend that each Honk Honk is the drivers way of telling the world he needs a shit, and he needs one quick so get out of his way. It makes me laugh to think that.

I have an excellent resume on crisp 8.5″ x 11″ paper. God bless America.

~Bloke who Brunches

P.S. – For all you A4 paper fans, I am aware Canada too does not use A4 paper – no surprise, they always copy the USA

P.P.S. – for my good American friend Marc over in LA, Meagan presented a Gorilla in her post, I gave you Jock the Gorilla from Bristol, now I give you Jock with a Gorilla in Uganda.

P.P.P.S. – I promise no more Gorilla’s


Add yours →

  1. Lol.. love your post Jock.. best thing is to be as crazy as the others on the road.. x


  2. Smittenbybritain October 13, 2010 — 5:33 pm

    The two of you should write a book together. Seriously. Very good writers, both of you. All I can do is apologize (I mean apologise) for our atrocious behavior (behaviour) Jock. I've been told that not all cities (Seattle for one) behave in such a way but sadly we do around DC, as you probably know.


    • Funny that – I guess one could say my book is kind of written by the two of us :) I think his head is getting even bigger (and I didn't think that was possible – he does have a big head – circumference-wise)


  3. Oh my God, I love seeing us Americans through the fresh eyes of a Brit!! Hysterical and sobering at the same time. . . .don't stop writing . . . . . this is some good stuff!!


  4. Hi Meagan,

    Hilarious! Let me invite you to Mexico and let you drive, you will be praying to be back in Chicago. But, I do understand, I was raised in NYC. Best regards,

    Father (not the priest)


  5. Now THAT'S a Jock the Gorilla picture. Nice work, Jocko. Keep it up…


  6. Don't you love Chicago drivers eh? You forgot about teeny tiny mom in large gas guzzler, on the phone, who is so oblivious to all around her (or entitled perhaps) that she sails straight through the STOP signs despite pedestrians and drivers whose turn it is.


  7. Don't fret. Chicago is known for their crazy drivers! Head out of the city and hopefully you can revert to your English driving.


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