Wassup in Philadelphia

Tuesday, March 26, 2002

More frequently asked questions about an Australian living in the USA . . .

Have you picked up an American accent yet?
Nope - but I do put one on if it's really crucial that I get any important details across. They simply cannot understand what you are saying. I may as well be speaking French.

Other than the accent, have you gone "native"?
No. I haven't got a car, a therapist or a handgun yet, so I suppose I will remain a conspicuous legal alien for the time being.

What are the main differences between Australia and the US?
The biggest difference is in the taboos of alcohol and religion.

What's different about alchohol?
Unlike Australia where to be referred to as a "drunk" is a goal to aspire to, in the US it is a genuine insult. And it's not made any easier by the fact that anytime you go to a bar and start talking to the bar staff in an Australian accent - they start feeding you free drinks. It's literally: buy one Guiness, get three free. Waddyagunnado? Hey - I've got an Australian image to maintain, so my heart says yes, but my liver says no.

What's different about religion?
People are very open about their religion over here - as opposed to Australia where you are meant to feel sensibly ashamed if you believe in imaginery friends. Folks will spend their lunch hours reading the bible at their desk. I feel like tapping them on the shoulder and saying, "C'mon guys! Are you crazy! You've got free internet here! There's porn to be surfed!!"

How are you liking the local food?
Funnily enough: "oil" and "salt" have their own food group over here.

So are people fat?
Well to give you some indication - I am a size "S" for small in the USA. I know those that saw my Survivor audition tape ("before" vs "after") will find it hard to believe, but it's true. I wouldn't describe myself as a "small". I was one of the front-row forwards in Honeywell's Rugby Sevens team (although admittedly, that says more about the people that work in the computer software industry than my own physique). Yet compared to Americans, aparently I am "small". What-EVER!!

Stay tuned . . .

posted by Phil Willis 8:13 PM

Friday, March 22, 2002

How's Philadelphia?
Just like Goldilocks - Philly is just right. New York would have been too big, and Rumpscratch, Arkansas would have been too small - but Philadelphia is a good mix. Different enough to be interesting, but similar enough to feel like home.

How's Honeywell?
I'm busy. I still don't know what I'm doing yet - but I am busy doing it (whatever it is). You'll be pleased to learn I'm past phase 1 (High enthusiasm - low skills), and now somewhere between phase 2 (low enthusiasm, low skills) and phase 3 (low enthusiasm, high skills). Enough said.

But what's the work environment like?
If you've seen the movie Office Space or read Dilbert - you've seen my workplace. Seriously. Not a spoof of my workplace. My actual workplace. Either could have been a documentary.

If you haven't seen Office Space, do yourself a favour and see it on video - or alternately just picture an office full of one-person cubicles stocked with short, bald, white, fat men called "Bill" in short-sleeved white shirts sporting pocket protectors, suspendors and moustaches. These guys think NASA circa 1960's was the height of engineering chic. Average age: 48

So have you been playing any sport?
Which part of the previous question didn't you read? As a result of the morbid state of fitness of the workplace, I have taken up the only "sport" Honeywell plays as a company: golf. (Hey - it could have been worse: Bowling.)

What's wrong with golf?
Nothing if you're an self-serving, ambitious, upper-middle-class, white-collared, corporate-loving, heterosexual, male approaching middle age. (Oh - but I guess that IS me now. Damn!) Although one advantage is: it's hard to foresee a scenario where I could break my shoulder while taking a twelve foot putt on the ninth green.

What are you missing about Australia?
Believe it or not: television - particularly the ABC. American TV is shite, but I guess you already knew that. But at least in Australia you had the four choices of US, British, Australian or "Other" (SBS). Here it is all-American, all the time.

But there's Survivor right?
Oh yeah - Survivor. US Survivor is good. Really good. Apparently Aussie Survivor is somewhere between "not-as-good" and "dreadful". Well it's channel nine's own stupid fault. I sent them my audition tape, they rejected me, and now they must face the wrath of the viewing public. It's as simple as that.

More to come . . .

posted by Phil Willis 11:09 AM

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What's up with Phil in Philly? An Australian comes to grips with life in the US of A.