5 Surprising Things My Country Wouldn't Have Without America
I'm from a place a lot like where they shoot those commercials of starving children that you watch as you toss out half your dinner because you're still a little full from lunch. As such, the tiny actions committed obliviously by American citizens (and people from all over the Western world, really) as they carry on their day-to-day activities have tangible impacts on my day-to-day life. The little choices all of you make trickles down to us, and we reap some rewards from your strange ways. For instance ...
Your Cult-Like Brand Loyalty Means I Can Afford A Decent Phone
When a new Apple product is released, I and the rest of the world watch the hordes of people in line with equal parts fascination, amusement, and abject horror. Why not wait a little bit for when there will be no lines, and no one coughing on the back of your neck meat? Is there nothing else you can do with a thousand dollars? Is your current phone going to self-destruct into a ball of fire and socialism if you don't get the latest version of it on day one?
That old phone is perfectly fine, because the owner will have cherished it until the moment a new version came out. The average iPhone enthusiast is essentially a serial divorcee. That owner will likely sell that old smartphone online or some other place, and in a couple of weeks, it will end up in an online store or an actual store halfway across the world. It will be bought at a fraction of the original cost and made proper use of until the day it absolutely fucking dies.
"Eh, it's still got at least another seven years left in it."
This may horrify many who have never had a phone long enough to notice the battery getting slower or past the fall that cracks the screen. The phone I have now was released 18 months ago and both of those things have happened to it, but the processor is good and at this point I'm pretty attached to it. I don't know who owned it before, but they took excellent care of it -- either that or they did not use it at all, which by serial divorcee standards is entirely possible. I will have it for a couple more years at least, unless my fortunes change dramatically or it spontaneously explodes for no apparent reason.
A lot has been said about the out-of-control Western consumerism that turns phones into trendy, disposable luxury items. I say splurge your fickle little hearts out, America. You don't want that practically brand-new, barely used, overpriced thing? Send it halfway across the globe so those of us who don't have a disposable $900 for a phone that should be transporting people to Hogwarts for that kind of scratch. Afraid of a little spontaneous phone combustion? You and your first-world problems disgust me. But I'm grateful you have them.
Your Undignified Fast Food Chains Make For A Prestigious Dinner For Us
Fast food -- or just any food that is not farm-to-table fresh -- has never been particularly popular in my country. My parents were of the opinion that cookies, soda, and French fries were snacks for children -- a treat for the rare family outing. As far as I know, the vast majority of the meals eaten in the country are made in kitchens in homes. This was how I grew up, and the "chips and chicken" would have remained a rare snack if the Americans had not come.
The key word here is "American." When KFC, Burger King, Subway, and the like announced that they would be opening restaurants here, it made the papers. Almost overnight, what was a greasy second meal option for college kids became a middle-class status symbol. Getting the large bucket of drumsticks is prestigious. Parents would drive by a KFC after picking up their kids from school and order the family-sized portions. This was revolutionary. This was 1950s American housewives getting cake mix instead of doing it themselves. People would post photos of the opened boxes and buckets of their fried chicken to social media as a way of showing off in the same way that we post our out-of-focus tropical vacation photos.
The unbelievable change in perception, ridiculous as it may seem, means that I carry a lot less shame about buying instead of cooking food. You full-blooded, artery-clogged Americans propelled the fast food industry to the heights of low-class, but it still seems posh by everyone else's standards. Say whatever you want about globalization, but God bless Colonel Sanders.
Speaking of food ...
Your High Standard of Grocery Store Food Means We Get The Cheap (And Delicious) Rejects
Looking at American grocery store photos is surreal -- just piles and piles of flawless, gorgeous produce ready to be photographed for a magazine spread. Food just doesn't look like that. I have seen potatoes that would turn your stomach, eggplants the color of healing bruises with patches of green, and blue berries with pits still in them. Pits.
The demand for perfect unblemished food started in America and is infecting the rest of the world. So every morning at the airport, depending on what's in season, cargo planes leave for Europe, North America, and the Middle East laden with the most gorgeous fresh fruit and vegetables on Earth, and leave behind a big pile of deformed unlovable monster produce which we buy for almost nothing.
These high standards are really doing a number on your produce's self-esteem.
Tons of fruits and veggies that were the wrong size, shape, color, or sweetness, or had blemishes, bruises, sunburns, or bugs, make up that big pile that we gladly devour. The pile that, apparently, would make everyone else on Earth vomit violently. The rejected food comes back to the local market at much cheaper prices, where I can get off-color but still delicious strawberries once a week and baby corn for a stir-fry. Your unjustifiable aesthetic standards ensure that I have decent meals. The produce will still be export-grade food, which means that there will likely be lower chemical content in it from pesticides and such. A lot more care will have been taken by the farmer, so it'll taste good. And there will be all kinds of exotic shit white people like to eat, like peaches or arugula, which while normal for you is exotic for us.
Your Fear of Terrorism Makes Traveling Cheap
Tourism contributes up to about 10 percent of my country's GDP. Another little factoid about my country: It shares a really long (not Mexico-long) and very porous (maybe Mexico-porous) border with Somalia.
Traditionally, the majority of foreign visitors are from Europe and North America, splitting their time between the game parks and the coast. But tourists, with the exception of those who climb Everest and spring breakers, only go to places they think are safe. And terrorists see an opportunity in the gathering of Westerners. Extremism has cost my country countless lives and billions in an expensive war across the border. There have been terrorist attacks close to popular tourist haunts and in the capital city in the last few years. The tourism industry took a big hit from the plethora of travel advisories and a mass exodus by foreign visitors.
But wow does terrorism lower my travel expenses.
Look, I know how bad that sounds. But when terrorist attacks slow tourism, hoteliers and airlines bring rates way down due to the crisis, in hopes of attracting a bargain hunter who can risk a little shrapnel. I am happy to oblige. See, despite employing thousands and making up a sizable chunk of the economy, vacations are not meant for people like me, who pull their pockets inside-out when we're asked to pay for those glorious aforementioned peaches. The normally unforgiving rates make it impossible for me to see the wonders of my own country. So while the threat of attack is just short of inevitable and advisories are entirely justified, seeing as the danger of actual death is very real, I will pretty much only budget for a holiday when the threat level is deemed high.
I'm basically jumping in the water after someone yells "Shark!"
When Americans scamper away, choosing to stay home or go someplace else, they leave a gaping hole that the hoteliers must reluctantly fill with me. The horrific acts of murderers have unintentionally given me amazing experiences I could never have had otherwise. And I only have to worry about dying most of the time.
Lazy Western College Kids Pay My Bills
If you are or were an American college student who was too busy with hazing, contouring (applies to both cars and faces), spring break, or protesting Donald Trump to bother with that paper that you should have been writing, and instead paid someone online to write it for you, there is a real chance that I or one of my friends wrote that paper. We are Kenyan freelancers, and we're the reason a lot of you aren't getting kicked out of college. If this comes as a surprise to some of you and you feel shortchanged in any way, I'd like you to take a moment and ask yourself what person with an advanced degree is writing undergraduate papers at five bucks a pop.
All of these are technically mine.
Still, everyone I know who does this is in the middle of completing their degree, and genuine care is taken in the writing of that paper. Really, as ethically questionable uses for the internet in Africa go, this is degrees of magnitude better than Nigerian prince email scams. It is honest work paid for by American students who pay the approximate black market value of a kidney for college textbooks that they don't read, for classes they don't attend, to complete assignments that unemployed strangers do for them. Is it difficult to write papers for students who are intentionally missing out on receiving a a full, world-class college education that I would kill to experience myself? No, not at all. And that says a lot about them, none of which is good.
We probably wrote a paper turned in by one of your future presidents. So yay, globalism!
A writer who averages eight papers a week earns a living wage, which is more than most first jobs are willing to pay. Five bucks is not a fortune anywhere, but in my current situation, it pays for a meal and half a pound of weed. So keep asking us to do your homework for you. My pipe's looking a little empty.
Be sure to check out our new Cracked Podcast miniseries, "Looking The Part," in which Soren Bowie and Daniel O'Brien are dissecting pop-culture's greatest beards, scars and tattoos. Listen to part one HERE and catch parts two and three in the Cracked Podcast feed on Apple Podcasts or wherever you get your podcasts.
Also follow us on Facebook. Or don't, it's a free country.