Reading Alan's description of how things work in Georgia brings me to remember certain quaint customs there. (and elswhere in the USA)
Alan mentioned WalMart (A huge company, nationally spread throughout the USA owned, incidentally, by Bill gates of Microsoft fame) Yes, it's a very useful store. Open in many states 24 hours a day, 365 days a year...so why on earth do they have locks on the doors?
The choice of cashiers during the 'normal' day time hours is not quite (though nearly) as bad as Alan describes, but get to the after midnight shift and things change...the staff consists of teenage pimple carriers (who, as Alan says, are not allowed to sell you the alcoholic refreshment you went in for) who seem to either enthuse ecstatically over any female under the age of 50 who looks like she may wish to 'get it on' with a sixteen year old no-hoper such as themselves. They can be observed packing the bags (Paper or plastic Ma'am?) even rushing to the doors and escorting the unfortunate ladies to their cars (for your safety, ma'am) Most will offer their phone numbers (if their mothers will allow incoming calls) and will refuse (once) any proffered gratuity.
If you happen to be male, however, the story is somewhat different...
...'next aisle, sir' this checkout lane will, of course be empty, as will the one you've just visited...the seat will still be spinning, a trace of shoe rubber smoke will be redolent in the air and you will see no-one for the next fifteen minutes.
Don't even think of walking out, though, with or without your 'purchases'...there will be a plethera of staff and security men (armed with big sticks and a walk that needs double pistols strapped to their sides to be believable) accusingly glaring at you.
The security guards will be just willing you to do something wrong so they can set about you with their sticks, their only regret would be that they are not allowed to carry guns to replace the walkie-talkies, sets of keys and handcuffs that they strap to their sagging belts.
This will coincide with the appearance of at least a dozen customers (who, you'd swear, were never in the store when you got there) who settle down to watch your embarrassment. Your credit card, if foolishly presented, will be subject to more scrutiny than you would ever believe possible...even your cash will be passed unfer a 'forgery detector' several times and will appear, to the waiting crowd, as sure proof of your guilt!
Of course, if you travel a few hundred yards away to the nearest Denny's you will find the pimple king's clone and all his friends, who stay in there all night doing homework and taking advantage of the 'buy one and get refills free' coffee. I think these students don't bother to get rooms for their stay at university, they sleep in the day, during lectures, and work on their classwork in Denny's sustained by the free coffee.
Incidentally in 1997 Walmart opened a new store in Bellingham WA, near where I lived, and wanted a barbershop quartet to sing the American national anthem for the official opening.
As chorus director for Bellingham Blend (the local barbershop chorus) I was asked to form a quartet and so we did the honours. It did seem strange, though, afterwards to think that the anthem for the USA was sung by me (lead), an Englishman, the tenor was Jack Lord (Canadian), the baritone was Chuck (Swedish), the bass was Bill Sorensen (a Norwegian) Not exactly a trend I think the Government of the USA would encourage. I did get to meet Bill Gates, though, and had the first ever coffee from the huge coffee lounge they had built inside! Ah Fame!
Good to hear American customs, especially the beautifully described driving habits, are still adhered to (it would be a shame to lose such a time honoured -honored tradition through carelessness, don't you think?)
Driving habits around the world should produce a good few tales, so how about it, you guys, let's hear 'em...