Nicola Alpe is a Kiwi living in Los Angeles navigating Americans, motherhood and bad traffic.
So many things don't make sense to me living in America. For a start, there is no entrée knife in a cutlery set. When you ask for cutlery you are rewarded with a blank stare until you ask for a knife and fork. An entrée is an appetiser and a main is an entrée.
After decades of looking at a light switch one way, now after seven years I look at a light switch and don't know if it is on or off.
I can't glance at the date and know immediately if it is the 3rd of May or the 5th of March.
The use of ma'am.
I won't scratch gun laws, some of the oppressive beliefs regarding women and minorities or the Electoral College. But Americans do a lot of things very well, including big salads, online shopping and any of Jimmy Fallon's quarantine remixes.
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And after four months being back in New Zealand, I'm really starting to miss them.
I don't know if I should be embarrassed to admit that when people have asked if we will move back to New Zealand I say, "Goodness no - there is no Amazon Prime delivery!". It garners a few laughs and diffuses a potentially long and indecisive answer but there is truth to it. Not limited to Amazon, living in America brings about choice and with it, enviable levels of customer service and expectation.
After having our daughter, the desire to peruse the shops quickly evaporated; I couldn't fit anything anyway, and I became a passionate online shopper. Need something for school in two days' time? Prime delivery. Need shoes but your feet have grown since pregnancy? Order two sizes – everyone offers free returns. In the meantime, I wait here impatiently for our curriculum materials which arrived into Auckland Airport at 7.38am on the 14th of May and still haven't made it to my parents' house two hours south.
Online shopping in this country may finally be fully embraced and I am delighted but sceptical. More people have learned how easy online grocery delivery is and I believe online shopping will grow because, other than a teenager, who wants to drive to the mall in the rain on a precious weekend, get dizzy finding a park, join the crush of humanity inside then leave stores looking like one huge polyester vomit - when they have an alternative? Not me.
The fly in the ointment will of course be getting the actual packages, hence my scepticism. When I place an order online in the US, I am given delivery options and I know immediately which company is used: FedEx is straight away. UPS Ground; that will be delivered within a week. Expedited or express; that means 2-3 days. USPS will be slower, but our postman Arthur will deliver it with a smile. Delivery by the end of the day means 8pm, well past the 4.58pm out of office activation here. If something does go awry the website will work and I can always speak to someone. Who will likely refer to me as ma'am.
If we accept that online is going to gain more traction and change the face of retail we can "pivot", "adapt" and all those other words we've heard lately.
Buying online doesn't mean we lose the impetus to shop local. It does mean that local businesses can no longer be complacent. Retailers, please don't forget that supporting local and smaller businesses applies right throughout the supply chain. Maybe there is a delivery alternative who will do a better job for you and the customer. We can support local, rebuild and embrace change all at the same time.