I've just returned from London, and as usual, I'm sitting here admiring how good we have it in America.
We really are a "land of plenty," as the cliche goes, so let me share a few of the things that make me admire our super-sized, jumbo-deluxe culture.
If you order a soft drink in America, you're either going to get a massive 32-ounce tub of carbonated sweet water, or you're going to get an all-you-can-drink-free-refills kind of deal. Our soda cravings are well-documented. But, in every European country I've ever visited, if you order a soft drink, you're going to be underwhelmed. I ordered one in a London pub and was given a tiny bottle that barely filled my glass. This expensive drink - no refills, mind you - was just big enough to annoy my taste buds. When you're used to pumping your own soda from the self-service drink machine, a miniature bottle of fizzy water just doesn't cut it.
"Ummm...maybe they have a cola shortage in Europe?" Nice try, but what about ketchup; should that cost more? It does. I was in Italy years ago, before the lira was replaced by the euro. I decided to try one of our American fast food chains to see if it was similar to what we had back home. I ordered my usual burger and fries, and asked for extra packs of ketchup, just like I always do. I'm a ketchup lover, OK? When I examined my receipt, I noticed I'd been charged 200 lira for each of the four additional packs. 800 lira wasn't a lot, but it was just 700 lira short of a nice cappuccino, and I hated to waste money on a condiment that should have been free. The Italian ketchup was good, but not as good as an Italian cappuccino would have been... it wasn't even as good as half an Italian cappuccino.
Sometimes, it's the tiniest things that remind us of how great our country really is. A little extra freedom; the tiniest extra shot at opportunity; that small hint of something special within our borders. America can satisfy many thirsts, thirsts that are literal or figurative. And when you're thirsty for a soft drink, a miniscule bottle of British sweet water - at two pounds sterling a pop - is a tiny reminder that screams "You're not in America anymore, son!"
David McCoy, a notorious storyteller and proud Yellow Jacket, lives in Conyers and can be reached at email@example.com