5 Differences between Chicago and Brum

5 things about our new home that have left me baffled, laughing, and entertained:

  1. Chicagoans walk purposefully and often briskly, adhering to The Sidewalk Code of Etiquette: stay to the right, pass on the left; don’t clog up the curb area, stop suddenly, or make unnecessary eye contact; respect personal space when at all possible. As far as I can tell, Brummies do not have a code. They tend to stroll like a man with his hands behind his back, whistling, staring at the sky. I am constantly jumping out of the way, being walked into, zig-zagging all over the sidewalk… I considered staying to the left – they drive on the left after all – but this wasn’t the solution. For a paranoid minute I thought people could tell I was American and they were veering into me on purpose.
  2. There are very few dogs in Birmingham. Maybe this will change when we move into an actual neighborhood.
  3. While generally very friendly, Chicagoans rarely strike up conversation with strangers. If someone spoke to me on the red line about anything other than a shared train experience, I was immediately suspicious and considered changing cars. Walking around with Penny in Birmingham has brought out the chatty in the Brummies. I think I’ve had conversations with 20 people already, which far surpasses the number of times I’ve spoken with strangers in Chicago.  Two little ten year old boys kept coming over to see the dog when I was reading in a park and after drilling me with questions, asked for a hug. I told them they could hug the dog. (WHAT? I’m still a little disturbed). Another guy thought we cared to hear his thoughts on American politics. The pleasant experiences are never as fun to talk about as the weird ones, but Chatty Kathys abound.
  4. Brummies use the word beware instead of caution. “BEWARE: Construction Zone.” The kitchen knives in our hotel room are labeled “BEWARE: Sharp Knives.” It sounds overly dramatic.
  5. In Brum, “orange squash” is a drink, not a vegetable. Connor politely fetched beverages for some of his colleagues and didn’t know that the orange juice lookalike was a highly concentrated concoction of God-knows-what. Innocently, he filled a glass, topped it off with a splash of water, and presented it to his colleague. Who did not drink any of it.

Happy Friday everyone! It’s raining here today for the first time since we arrived, so I’m having a mini staycation. I’m sort of relieved to have an excuse to stay put.

5 Differences between Chicago and Brum

One thought on “5 Differences between Chicago and Brum

  1. Nora Kantwill says:

    My guess is that the Brummies also walk WITHOUT their noses in their cell phones, something Americans are unable to do. Enjoy that!!


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