The other day, opening a bottle of wine with a corkscrew, I wanted to list several bottles of wine from the USA with a screw cap. So simple!
In the US, screw-capped wine bottles still have a stigma and are often seen as cheap and of poor quality (though not as sticky as box wine!). Not surprisingly, only 30 percent of U.S. wine bottles have screw caps, unlike many other wine-producing countries with a higher percentage: New Zealand (95 percent), Australia (80 percent), and South Africa. South (65 percent) and Chile (63 percent). percent).
Here are nine more customs from other countries that I would like the US to adopt.
1. Minimum 4 weeks of vacation per year
The United States is the only developed country in the world without a single day of paid legal leave. By law, every country in the European Union has at least 4 weeks of paid leave. Some countries have even more: Austria, France and Finland have 25 days; Panama and Kuwait, 30.
But the United States is indeed a culture based on Protestant work ethic, and according to a 2018 study, 63% of Americans do not even use all the vacation days they have. I remember when my husband Barry and I lived in Silicon Valley, from time to time we went camping or backpacking in the Sierras. When we returned, people would inevitably ask, “Was your trip for work or play?” If I said “play,” I always felt a little embarrassed, knowing it was the wrong answer!
2. Personalized customer service without scenarios
Many years ago, Barry and I were having dinner on a cool evening at an open-air restaurant in Antalya, a Turkish town on the Mediterranean coast. “It’s so cold,” I told our waiter, trembling. “You have nowhere to eat, do you?”
“Would you like to dine in our kitchen?” he said in strong English. “Let me show you.” The warm and comfortable kitchen was exactly what I wanted - although I wondered where it would have put us, with no table in sight.
Two waiters immediately took our entire table - plates, glasses, silverware, tablecloths, everything - and picked it up in the kitchen next to the old-fashioned steaming and hot stove. The enticing smell of a thick soup in a cauldron floated through us. “Now that’s it customer service! ”I exclaimed to Barry.
Something tells me that OSHA safety regulations would not let customers stay so close to the stove!
3. City squares and pedestrian areas
Almost every city in Mexico and much of Latin America has one zocalo or garden, what we would call a market, with pedestrian areas nearby. People gather, sit on benches talking, listen to music, watch street performers, flirt, walk with their families, and so on.
I’ve seen a few markets in the US, but they’re not nearly as common as they are in Latin America and Europe.
In England and Wales, a public footpath refers to a path on which the public has a legally protected right to walk.. There are about 140,000 miles of public rights of way, often through farms. The law on the right of roaming allows the public to move on land with free access without penalty for violation. It is the complete opposite of the US, where private property rules.
In addition, the UK has 16 national routes and hundreds of other long-distance routes. Almost every county boasts a long-distance walk, from gentle ones like the Cotswolds Way in the south to long and tiring ones like the Pennine Way in the north. And the English Coast Road, when completed, will be the longest coastal road in the world at 2,795 miles.
I would like the US to borrow this custom from the UK, designing local long-distance routes as a way to promote tourism in every state.
Diving in a hot sauna is good for relaxing muscles and cleaning the sinuses, and in Scandinavia, family members are usually naked, as my husband Barry discovered in shock when he left for Finland with a work schedule in the 1960s.
Instead of building a sauna at home, most Americans use it at a gym, which I did when I spent a few months in Amsterdam. I knew it was okay to be naked in the sauna, since everyone was, but I didn’t realize (until reprimanded!) That it was an unwritten rule that you should lie on a towel, I guess for reasons of hygiene.
6. Tangible signs of spirituality
In the house that Barry and I have in Guanajuato, Mexico, we hear church bells ringing several times a day, and similarly in Islamic cultures, we hear the haunting sound of the Call to Worship.
In Cambodia, I admired the houses of the spirits outside the houses. These shrines, usually in the form of small covered structures mounted on a pillar, are meant to protect the house from evil spirits. Cambodians and other Southeast Asians believe that the altar door, which leads to the entrance of the house, brings good luck and wealth to the family.
Tangible spiritual markers do not really fit into our culture, but they yearn for invitations like these that take me out of my daily trance and awaken me to a sense of amazement.
7. Polymer, multicolored coin
The United States, with its universal green paper bills, is in an abnormal situation. Many of the countries I’ve visited use multicolored polymer banknotes, a kind of plastic. The polymer bills were first issued in 1988 by Australia and are now used in Canada, Mexico, the United Kingdom, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Romania, Vietnam, Fiji and Mauritius.
Multicolored polymer bills make so much sense. Not only because the bills of different colors are never confused, but also because the paper ones get dirty, discolor, wrinkle and break much faster than the polymer. Plus all the different colors are so beautiful!
The polymer is also better for the environment. A Canadian study found that a polymer bill reduces global warming potential by 32% and uses 30% less energy than paper. It also lasts more than twice as long.
8. Pop-Top Boxes
In Mexico and most European countries, canned food comes with a pop-top. This is not the case in the USA, where a can opener is needed for almost any box.
While pop-up boxes are a bit more expensive, market research has shown that many consumers would be willing to pay a little more for a pop-top box because of the added convenience.
9. Circles or roundabouts
Studies show that traffic directions are actually safer than stop signs or intersections with traffic signals. According to research by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), traffic circles reduce accidental injuries by 75% at intersections where stop signs or signals were previously used to control traffic. Traffic circles also save time and reduce fuel consumption, as a driver slows down but does not stop and starts.
Some of these changes are already underway, but others would be difficult to implement. So what? The longer we wait, the more complicated the change can become. My vote is about to begin.