PHIL LeCHOISE | Overseas | CONTACT
Liam Webb is a proud Canberran. He grew up there, went to school there, and even decided to stay in Canberra for university.
Liam is quick to sing Canberra’s praises, and gets defensive when his out of state friends tease him about Canberra not being a real city. “It’s very easy to rile the little man up”, laughs his Sydney-born mate Daniel. “When he claims you can get anywhere you want in Canberra in 20 mins I tell him ‘I don’t care how long it would take me to get around – there’s nowhere in Canberra I’d want to go.’”
However, a job offer he couldn’t refuse saw Liam recently trade in the smooth-functioning roundabouts of Canberra for the shambolic four-way stop signs of Philadelphia. “ Yeah nah, I was a little apprehensive initially – it’s a bit like leaving the womb. But I started to get more comfortable with the move when I heard Philly has one of the best bike-lane networks in the US.”
Liam’s first six months in Philadelphia have seen him deal with a number of expected challenges – tipping, bad coffee, and avoiding the C-bomb. One challenge he didn’t anticipate though was having to explain the existence of Canberra.
“No-one has heard of the place”, he complained. “Whenever I mention Canberra, I get met with a dumb face and a ‘Is that near Sydney?’ It’s the fuckin’ capital for Christ’s sake, who cares if it’s near Sydney.”
“But, yeah, I’m sick of having to correct people all the time. And then there’s that awkward moment when they realise you’re implying they’re an idiot… I can’t do it anymore.”
We followed Liam around one day to witness his struggle first hand.
“Hey man, love your accent,” commented an Ohio man visiting Philadelphia. He had stopped Liam to ask for directions to the Rocky statue, Philadelphia’s foremost tourist attraction.
“Where are you from? England?” he asked.
“No, Australia” replied Liam.
“From Sydney?” the man continued.
Liam hesitated, “Ah… yeah” he finally managed to mutter, deeply ashamed of himself for betraying his real hometown.
“Wow man that’s awesome. I’ve always wanted to go there. That’s the capital right?”
“Yeah… yep, you’re right, it sure is” Liam mumbled to the ground, figuring it was easier to not correct the big Ohioan.
After listening to the man talk for over 10 minutes about how he would love to visit Sydney, Melbourne, and even Perth, Liam managed to get away and tried to compose himself.
“You don’t understand, it happens everyday. I mean it’s like they’ve never been shown a map with anything other than America on it.”
After a minute of staring at the ground Liam looked up and said, somewhat more cheerily “Oh well, it is what it is, at least I’m doing better than my housemate Nawaaz – he’s from Murrumburah and not even people in Australia have heard of that shithole.”