Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Americans Are Loud

Americans are loud. I’m sitting at Panera Bread in the suburbs of Atlanta, GA. There are currently 4 separate groups sitting around me. Here’s what’s happening in their lives:
 Group A:
The girls across from me are shopping for some baby clothes on the Internet. Target is the best option, because they allow you to make purchases online and pick them up in the store. Girl A also has the Target Debit Card. She does some of her grocery shopping there, but not all of it. She hates Wal-Mart.

Group B: 
There is an older couple to my left that is discussing the neighborhood that one of their children have moved to.

Group C:
A man and a woman with a small baby are talking about the small baby. They’re engaged in a typical mom and dad conversation: how quickly the baby is growing, the percentile of the baby’s head, how so-and-so’s baby is ahead or behind, etc.

Group D:
Three business men are speaking surprisingly softly. They’re probably doing something illegal.


I moved to Spain in 2011 where I first realized how loud Americans are. In all of my travels to the 18 countries that I’ve visited, that stereotype has been proven dependable. These people at Panera are (almost) all speaking loud enough for me, the unassuming bearded guy in the corner, to understand every word. Why? Why do we speak so loudly? Is it because we are so spread out? There is so much space here. I notice that more and more each time I come back. Maybe we speak loudly to fill the space. Maybe there is so much noise everywhere with all of the aggressive advertising that we feel we have to speak more loudly in order to be heard. Maybe no one is listening. Whatever the reason may be, Americans are loud.

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