Thoughts from the USA

March 25, 2013

I am currently enjoying a vacation in Florida with Management’s brother, celebrating his 50th birthday. The intention is for us to play some golf and to enjoy some American hospitality (and perhaps a little shopping) for a week or so.

We are based in a spacious American style house near Orlando, home to Disney World. The planes are full of families excited to be meeting Mickey and Minnie. The theme parks are known to be the world’s best, and what a draw they are for tourism in south-east USA. There are thousands of places to eat and drink here, and we have sampled a few.

American service is legendary and my take on this is that, if anything, it has improved. On previous visits I have been bombarded with choice: ten different dressings for the salad, six types of bread to choose from, and so on. This time, the servers seem to take a personal interest, to chat along with the diners, and to try to make the whole experience fun. Being a server in the USA is a job with status, everyone respects that they work hard. Tipping is where they make their money, and they offer the best service they can to earn their way. Debbie and Harry in Appleby’s, Melissa in Manny’s (sensational steak, by the way) and the waitresses in Hooters looked after us handsomely: providing extra ice cream, full glasses of beverage, and a laugh and joke. We were happy to tip them well. It is an American tradition to eat out very frequently, and it is no surprise to see the diners full between 4.30 and 9.30pm.

We went to watch some of the world’s best golfers play at Bay Hill in the Arnold Palmer Invitational. Ian Poulter, Justin Rose, and Graeme McDowell from the UK all now live by Lake Nona in Florida and were battling it out with Tiger Woods, Phil Mickleson and the other Americans.
I was pleased to learn that these expats contribute a lot to the society they now live in. The tournament is run so professionally and spectators can get very close to the action. As for our own golf, we certainly picked up some tips, but have a way to go with the quality of execution!
America does seem to be ‘on the way back’. There is more optimism economically than when I last visited in 2011. Some new homes are being constructed around where we are staying, an encouraging sign.

I do admire the willingness to work and the way that many Americans try to offer a service in a friendly manner. There is always someone on hand to help in the supermarket, to carry or clean your golf clubs, or to show you the way. Of course the USA has many social and economic challenges but the over-riding commitment of Americans to do their best for their nation and to benefit from the opportunities it offers is inherent in society. There is much to be admired in such a positive outlook. Most of those I met on my trip seem to believe that ‘my cup is half full’, not ‘half empty’. This is a fine attitude to have.