Size Matters

An American welcoming

Yeah, that’s one thing I learnt in the States.

Let’s get through its first week’s lessons.

The pass­port con­trols were noth­ing spe­cial. I mean, I was checked like, one time in Warsaw, three times in Zurich, and noth­ing less than 6 times in Los Angeles (fur­ther on, LA). But all of them were routine. First check in LA was with a machine. «Not accep­ted, please pro­ceed to desk num­ber whatever». All right, but just in case «pro­ceed to desk num­ber whatever». Thank you, «but now go to room whatever»… each one was the same: pass­port, stare at my bearded face with glasses that doesn’t look much like my passport’s pic­ture, “What are you going to do in the US”, “any­thing to declare in your bag­gage”, “are you car­ry­ing any food with you”, and all the ques­tions that has made America pop­u­lar. It was bor­ingly predictable.

Then I go out of the air­port. “Get out, go away!” Some people yell from the back­ground. “Watch out, let’s pass!” Other screams worry me. A big car, as big as a tank, parks a meter ahead of me, dark glasses as dark as the big black jacked guys around, and Rihanna walks out of the air­port and enters the car. The car drives away, jacked army van­ishes, and everything con­tin­ues as it was. Welcome to America.

The land of six lanes per side in a com­mon high­way, where cars as nev­er smal­ler than a two tons tank, or, what they call ton, some 2.2 short tons. The land whose area is just as much as the whole of Europe in its broad­er sense, to the Urals, includ­ing a third of Russia. Where California is big­ger than Poland, and hav­ing a car is not just neces­sary but socially required. I mean, not hav­ing a car makes you look like you fail in life. And there’s almost nowhere you can go without one; twice the area of Europe, with half its pop­u­la­tion, makes it for a very sparsely pop­u­lated coun­try where a per­son can allow him­self much more space. Just Manhattan has a lim­ited space being a tiny island, but the rest of the coun­try can handle one acre per house and fam­ily. Which, one house after the oth­er, and leav­ing some empty space in between, makes LA more than a hun­dred kilo­metre wide in lon­git­ude. And every­body hav­ing a car the size of an European house makes that a no prob­lem.

We all know of the so called medi­um-size coca-cola in the McDonalds: one litre (how­ever not pro­por­tion­ate with just stand­ard size bur­gers). But the worst thing of this over-siz­ing (or am I guilty for European over-tight­en­ing?), is how they meas­ure all of it. I’m OK with the pounds, and to an extent, I got over the miles. But what the hell is an ounce, or a feet, sup­posed to be?! Never got it. Fahrenheit? Who made that up? It’s just caus­ing me so many mis­un­der­stand­ings when try­ing to explain that Spain is a warm place and they were like oh no let’s wear wool and gore­tex all over.

Warsaw Culture Palace Art Sciences Stalin
Bonus, a build­ing I have a ton of pics of.

And the paper. Oh no. Thank you Germans for giv­ing me my DIN sys­tem, where fold­ing one paper by the big­ger half gives you the next paper in the sys­tem, which most import­antly keeps exactly the same pro­por­tions length per width. That let­ter was just 11 inches long just because car­penters used to have an 11 inches long fore­arm back in time. What’s an inch by the way?

Hey, I have to admit it though. That let­ter size sheet did indeed looked very eleg­ant if used for, pre­cisely, writ­ing let­ters. No idea why.

Incise: Leon is telling me that Fahrenheit was a Dutch-German-Polish guy born in Gdańsk, or Danzig as they call it. Well thank you.


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