Everybody knows that Brits drive on the left hand side of the road and everybody else drives on the right. Let’s get that one out of the way before we even start. Having said that, not a lot of Americans know that there are many major countries where they also drive on the left, places like, urm, Nepal, Trinidad and Tobago. Okay, I admit it, driving on the left is just plain strange. But regardless, I intend to continue my theme of British and American differences with a blog post about driving in the Land of the Free (aka the USA), specifically, driving in Florida.
Disappointingly, apart from some old people, certain black people, and a few weirdos, nobody drives those enormous American cars that the world became familiar with in tv programmes such as “Starsky and Hutch”, “The Dukes of Hazzard” and “Dallas”, which, if you were a Briton born in the mid sixties like myself, were your main source of information about American culture. Americans generally drive pretty similar cars to the Europeans nowadays (many Japanese models especially), which is kind of a let down. I suspect that one reason is because the American car industry rivaled the British one in terms of producing poor quality vehicles, so most of their cars were in reality more crap than classic, and they fell apart years ago. Plus those American cars needed 10 gallons of fuel just to get started and travel to the end of the driveway, which isn’t much use in the modern world.
Despite all the similarities however, there are a several areas where there are British and American differences, certainly here in Florida. For one thing, Americans are particularly fond of their trucks. Especially their pick ups. Big open backed things. I am not convinced that all their owners need them for work purposes, they seem to be as much an expression of manhood and lifestyle, but you will see many of them on the roads.
Americans are fond of their bumper stickers too, which indicate everything from religious and political affiliations, to places where the car owner likes to eat, their favourite sports teams, and sometimes just jokes or plain silliness.
To be a true Floridian, however, you need to forget four wheels altogether and buy a motorcycle, preferably a Harley with chopper handlebars and a dropped seat. As you’re not legally obliged to wear a helmet down here, you might as well just dispense with long trousers too, and a jacket – heck, I saw a guy riding a motorcycle the other day who wasn’t even wearing shoes! He was barefoot, in his shorts and cut-off t-shirt, cruising beside us on two wheels, indifferent to all the skin and brains that he might lose should he be unlucky enough to be parted from his machine while in motion.
I am still waiting for my first sighting of a start naked motorcycle rider, it is probably only a matter of time…
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