Born and raised in Sweden, I am used to certain conventions. One of them is that no one should ever have to wait for you (or behind you). This is why I was momentarily uncomfortable when a woman stopped her car in the middle of the road and yelled at me that my dog—who I was walking at the time—was so good looking.
I quickly overcame the baggage of my youth and remembered why I am so happy in the United States: at its best, there are such moments of pure, spontaneous joy that pass among strangers.
Another example: as I was taking a break from a much too long and frustrating business meeting, I walked past the office’s receptionist, whom I have only met a few times. She probably realized, perhaps intuitively, that I was in a funk, because she yelled after me, “Hey, you’re funky!”
I turned around. She had a big, contagious smile on her face. I instantly felt better.
In Sweden, people tend to keep their friends for life and they don’t make much room for new ones. Here, strangers often interact with abandon, which leaves room for me to have amazing positive interactions with people I don’t even know.
That’s still one of the best things about the USA.