Saturday, May 4, 2002

San Francisco to Sydney - Day 21

Day 21 : Palm Springs to San Diego

There are no photos today. We spent most of the day, again, on buses - one from Palm Springs to San Bernardino and another from San Bernardino to San Diego. Greyhound buses are clean and reliable, but if I don't see the inside of one for a while, I won't miss the experience.

San Bernardino - our one stop today - sticks in my mind as the city with the third or fourth worst air of any city in the US. As I recall it from a recent newspaper story, in the last year San Bernardino had 50 days when its air was deemed 'unhealthy' and 55 when it was deemed 'very unhealthy'. In other words, breathing was recommended only about 2 days in 3. Personally, I like to grab a breath at least once or twice every day. I'm glad we were only there for an hour or so.

Our bus journey today was the third successive journey in which passengers made it obvious that we were travelling with cons or ex-cons. Maybe Greyhound should be renamed Con-Bus. I won't recount some of the stories we overheard today, but I will say that, were it not painful to staple our luggage, say, to my leg, I would have done so today.

So, we've arrived in San Diego, the second last stop on our journey home. Our hotel room - well, actually, it's a suite - is, by some considerable margin, the largest and most comfortable we've stayed in. It has a lounge suite, a desk, a TV and a video separate from the bedroom, and it has two telephones. Compared to our San Francisco hotel, it's almost a whole floor.

The lady on the front desk who checked us in was so cheery, she bordered on painful. Even though Debs and I have lived in the US for a while now, we're still not used to the force-10 enthusiasm we sometimes encounter from service providers. I'm in two minds as to whether the lady's name tag simply recorded her name or instead described her disposition : it was Merry. My guess is that her surname is Christmas.

There's no doubt that the level of service here in the US far exceeds that we endure in Australia. Waiters, hotel staff and supermarket checkout people here genuinely seem to care about their customer's welfare and about the service that they're providing. The prevalence of tipping no doubt contributes to this concern for customers, but I believe there's more to it than that : I think that Americans demand a higher level of service, and so they get it.

Only in America

Television advertisements here in the US carry some amusing disclaimers, fuelled, no doubt, by the fear of crippling litigation.

For example, we saw an ad tonight in which the submerged roof of a 4WD vehicle is used as a means for some female hikers to cross a stream. The disclaimer (in tiny print) : "This vehicle is not designed for underwater driving". Really? Damn!

Another ad shows a woman with her hand out the window of a moving car, showing the difference between fighting the wind (hand and palm upright) and making it your friend (hand aerodynamically shaped, fingers pointing in the direction of the car's motion). And the disclaimer for this advertisement : "Do not put your hands outside a moving vehicle". Oh ... OK.

They're also running Foster's ads here that suggest that Aussies actually drink the stuff. Indeed, the ads suggest that Aussies revere the stuff. Really, someone should tell the advertisers here the truth ...

Originally posted by TC

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