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The America files

Comparative culture

Americans think busy

I lived outside of the United States from May 22nd, 2000, until May 29th, 2011.

My first experience back in the States after a few years away was at O'Hare International, and the behavior of fellow passengers was remarkable.

As soon as the "unfasten seatbelts" chime dinged, everybody stood up. They were ready — even though there was nowhere to go.

And for another ten minutes nobody moved. It was clearly a matter of honor that they not remain seated. This is America; you gotta get out there and... stand for another ten minutes. The cabin crew is going to open those doors when all of the apparati are safely and properly affixed and secured and safety-checked. That's the way they do it. That's the way they always do it.

But nobody was going to let any flies land on them, dammit.