A good Canadian friend of mine, Colum, told me how he would always get the “that’s not typical at all”-reply when wondering about things that had been happening to him in Finland. I’ve learned that it’s actually a global phenomenon. When telling my US friend about the African American lady, who a week ago called me “Hi sweetheart, you look gorgeous today!” when I passed by her bus stop, he told me, “really, that’s not common at all!” And when I admired the American concept of hospitality, as a professor from a collaborating university had invited his kids and a neighbor to have dinner with us, and even offered us to stay at his home if we didn’t want to return to DC for the night, no, that never really happens around here!

Also, there’s a few more other things I’ve been wondering about, but haven’t yet sought for the views of the natives:

I walk past the White House to and from work, and there’s often a police car parked nearby. “Police” it says in huge letters, and in a bit smaller below “Secret Police”. Very secret!

Basically every time I’ve been out, I’ve been asked to show my ID. The drinking age is 21, and after a while I started wondering if I really look so young to the US people. “No”, the bartender told me, “we have to ask ID for everyone who looks under 40”!

In the ladies’ room of my stunning work building, someone has attached ugly signs above each toilet: “Be considerate and remember to flush the toilet”. And this is a toilet where the toilet flushes itself automatically!