America's Quirks
  • I want to talk about America's actual quirks, not using this as an excuse for non-Americans to rip on us about "oh god you're all so fat" etc. So here's a few I found (at this really good forum post here) http://ask.metafilter.com/200224/What-are-Americas-quirks

    Some choice highlights (I like these, because they aren't things Americans generally recognize as quirky but definitely happen:

    My girl friends from Ireland and the UK find it strange that the bathroom stalls have such wide gaps between the wall and door. I never noticed it until they talked about how bizarre it was. To this day, my only guess for why is that maybe it's so that you can tell a stall is occupied. Hmmmm.

    "Uh huh" is an appropriate response to "thank you" (!)
    You can drive your car on the beach (!)
    It's called a restroom here, not a washroom or bathroom.
    Mail is delivered on Saturdays.
    Shops barely close, only on Thanksgiving day and Christmas day does commerce really stop.
    Ice tea is sugarless (an improvement over the Canadian version).
    Candies are full of corn syrup (so a Cadbury or Kit Kat bar in the US will taste significantly worse than the original version from abroad).

    How supermarkets not just let you wander off with carts into the wild blue yonder but will set up displays of firewood, plants, pumpkins, etc., out front with nobody watching and trust you'll bring it indoors to pay for it.


    You can turn right when the light is red
    Price tags in shops don't always include sales tax.
    Coins - quarter is obvious, nickels have 5 written on them but dimes just say One Dime (or they did last time I was there) - as a tourist, how am I supposed to know what that's worth?
    You write your dates differently to everyone else in the world. (instead of dmy or ymd you have mdy). It made filling in our travellers cheques fun!
    Your chocolate is nasty, a lot of people would say the same about your cheese but I happen to like 'cheese food product'
    Too much choice when ordering food - I'm English you get what you're given and you'll like it! Going in to a subway late at night was a bad idea... all I wanted was a cheese sandwich.... so many questions. Same thing at breakfast, I ordered fried eggs and toast... fried eggs have kinds?
    So very many adverts, I don't know how you can even follow your TV programs when there are so many interruptions
    And speaking of TV - 'mid-season' break - wtf is that about? (a lot of shows have started showing here in the same week as they air in the US and they stop halfway through, without explanation for months at a time. Most recently, Glee showed 3 episodes and then stopped for a month)
    The width of roads is just frightening!

    Since NT has a pretty big international userbase, I'd like to know some of your observations. Try to keep it not-shitty, please. This isn't about being a douchebag.
  • I've noticed from being overseas a couple times that EVERYTHING in America is bigger. I'm not just talking about food portions. When I was in Australia, my host family started showing me pictures of 1 million dollar houses, and while they were certainly very nice and all, they weren't anything out of the ordinary from a middle-upper class neighborhood in the states, as long as it's not a big city where everything is expensive. The yards are bigger too, once you get out of the city. Heck, even European and Austrailian suburbs did not have the grass space that US suburbs do. Also, cars. When in the UK and France, I saw probably one SUV or truck for every 100 cars, not exagerrating. Here in the US, I go through trips where I see more SUVs and trucks than cars.

    I'm reading the thread now, and the flag thing is true. You do see a lot more here. Same with support the troops stuff; bumper stickers and the like. Nationalism is viewed very different in the US.

    In the US, swear words on the radio and swear words on TV are largely a no go, I saw/heard them all the time overseas. Same with topless ads, although I only saw a couple overseas.

    TIPPING LOL

    I have not found a single person overseas who has really understood how big intercollegiate sports are here. As in, our college/university team sports are almost as big as pro sports. America is really the only country in the world with such a system.

    Public restrooms are much easier to find in the states than in some countries.

    In Europe, some public restrooms charge you money to use, to keep them clean. In the US, they're either clean and useable or gross and untouchable. But you don't pay for them.

    There are a lot of police about in the US and they rarely observe the rules of the road.

    Queuing culture is different everywhere, but in the US it seems that making customers wait is a much bigger faux pas.

    Parallel parking seemed more common in Europe in the cities. A lot of people here are afraid to attempt it.

    Interesting note; when I was at a high school in Australia, I was asked, seriously, if I got shot at on the way to school.

    America is easily where I've routinely seen the most casual and revealing clothing in public places.

    Finally, probably the coolest thing about the states; the diversity. Even small towns have usually a bajillion foreign cuisine based restaurants. I can't even tell you how many we have in my city of 70,000. Tons of Mexican, Italian, Chinese, Irish/UK, Japanese, Indian, Malaysian, Thai, Middle Eastern, Russian, Greek/Mediterranean, Polish, etc., etc. I am sure I am forgetting many. While the European towns I'm in weren't toally devoid of this, the choice wasn't as varied.
  • First one is the same as GEFM's first one but I'm going to expand on it. Everything is bigger in the US. Not talking about food (but that is part of it, food comes in bigger packages), but if you goto a supermarket everything is bigger, you can't even get a small bottle of shampoo, it's either huge or tiny (travel sized). Because the huge one is your normal one, yet everywhere else it's freaking huge! lol

    American company's revolve around getting as much money as possible out of the consumer. Here they focus on giving offers and a better service for the money to get more customers in.

    People are taller in america (and some other country's too) on average. I'm normal height here for a male, over there I'm considered small.

    Theres always a place to eat, theres a fast food place in walking distance of anywhere you go. And your motorways/freeway's even have signs up saying theres xxxx restraunt's at whatever exit.

    You call football soccer instead of football. What you call football is American Football everywhere else in the world.

    Theres a 'World' Series in baseball, but only american teams (and canada...) are in it.

    You have Good Will shops. Most other country's will either just throw shit away or offer it to a friend before throwing it away. We have charity shops too, but no-one uses them really.

    Some of your busses run on tracks, but they aren't trams... WTF is that about?

    People stop and talk to you randomly over there. Other country's, not so much unless you're in a social place (pub/bar or something)
  • Some favorite American moments:

    1. Driving past a big sign on the Wisconsin highway, it stated

    GUNS
    CHEESE
    ANTIQUES
    BEER
    PORN

    2. Walking around the Mall of America and finding stores of impossible specificity, including one that sold only refrigerator magnets, so many that the dog magnets were alphebetized by breed.

    3. Pulling up to a stop sign in Houston, some years ago after mandatory car insurance laws became standard, and seeing my first set of truck nuts, when they were homemade, two tennis balls in a striped tube sock tied to the tow bar. The driver volunteered "We got in-shrance!" (Texans are lovely people who want to make most words have two syllables, so they can be belted out like D-fence.)
  • Hey V you forgot about people coming up to someone they don't know to admire a baby/toddler that they do not know saying oh how cute and talking to the child and sometimes even touching the child to try to tickle them. I know that was one thing that bugged you and you felt was very rude.

    Oh and stop knocking on the street cars... they are not a bus they are a street car or a light rail train.

    We also don't have the double decker buses that you have over there. You also forgot that most Americans would rather drive to a store that is a 5 min walk away even if they are getting just 1 item because its easier.

    From what I understand the States are also the only country that require that our children get several dozen shots before they enter school and the parents don't really have a choice about it because it is considered neglect if you do not get the child the shot unless there is a valid religious reason for not doing so but those people also never take their kids to the doctor for the most part because they believe that God will heal them so if you claim that and then take your kid to the er your in trouble.

    I could be mistaken but I believe that the States has one of the largest homeless problems world wide and we are so busy helping out other country's that we forget that we have people here that need help just as much.
  • jaded_sapphire said:
    I could be mistaken but I believe that the States has one of the largest homeless problems world wide and we are so busy helping out other country's that we forget that we have people here that need help just as much.


    I don't know how big it is compared to the rest of the world, but this was certainly one of the things that shocked me most about the US. Aside from the homeless dudes (weirdly, it was Washington where I noticed it most, most of our homeless are probably in our capital as well, but even so), what struck me when I went to Dallas was how...centre-less a lot of US cities are. I guess it comes back to the thing about using cars much more, but Dallas seemed to have a swanky high-rise office block next to a old-fashioned wooden house with a stoop out front, next to a parking lot, next to another office block. UK cities have clearly defined 'areas' - here's where the shops are, here's where the factories are etc etc.

    Politeness - I'm not going to suggest that every American is polite (that would be as crazy as suggesting the whole of Japan is honourable), but the whole world could learn from the US's notion of customer service, and I'm sure Gravy mentioned on a PAX Modcast how weird he found it that strangers would speak to him on the bus. The UK is pretty terrible on both of those fronts - when I was at a conference in New Orleans and one of the reps who was manning a stand said to me 'I love your accent', I honestly thought that he was taking the piss because no-one in the UK would offer a compliment like that to a complete stranger.

    I will say that the first and final impression that people will often get of the US however, is terrible. I'm talking about your airports - I don't think I've once had a positive experience of one. I'm not talking about the stringent and paranoid National Security (although there's a whole other topic there), I'm talking about the fact that I almost constantly find myself in enormous queues, either for security or border control. And almost every time there's half a dozen guys hanging around, directing people in various directions and, without fail, making things worse.

    Hope that doesn't sound negative and dick-y, I do love that America.
  • Its not just in Washington. In 2009 there were over 656,000 people homeless over 243,000 of those were people in family's with young children. According to this in 2010 and 2011 it did nothing but increase by allot.

    America's biggest quirk I would say is that she wants to take care of the rest of the world before she takes care of her self. I understand that it is bad in other parts of the world but I do not see how we can take care of others when we can not even take care of our self first.
  • Littleg said:
    Politeness - I'm not going to suggest that every American is polite (that would be as crazy as suggesting the whole of Japan is honourable), but the whole world could learn from the US's notion of customer service, and I'm sure Gravy mentioned on a PAX Modcast how weird he found it that strangers would speak to him on the bus. The UK is pretty terrible on both of those fronts - when I was at a conference in New Orleans and one of the reps who was manning a stand said to me 'I love your accent', I honestly thought that he was taking the piss because no-one in the UK would offer a compliment like that to a complete stranger.


    Yeah, people have no problems talking to complete strangers over there. But there is a bit on the other side of that scale I forgot to touch on and that is lack of politeness . In the UK at least we generally say thank you to the people that help us even if it is their job to do so. In America theres no need to, at least in this example.. In some supermarkets the people serving you will bag your stuff for you and they look at you funny when you say "thank you" because of it. Politeness in some aspects have gone away to the point you no longer need to say it for the small things that are taken for granted. I personally find it rude not to say thank you, but they seem to find it weird when I say it lol.

    That is another one actually, the supermarket people bag your stuff for you. The normal over here at least is that you do it yourself. The person ringing up your items will offer/ask if you would like help bagging, but it's expected you say no for the most part.

    jaded_sapphire said:
    Oh and stop knocking on the street cars... they are not a bus they are a street car or a light rail train. "

    I wasn't knocking anything, trying to stay on the positive end of the spectrum here :P. I couldn't remember the name of them but a bus on rails that the traffic has to stop for is weird to the rest of the world. I still don't understand the purpose of a bus being on rails tbh though.
  • GoodEnoughForMe said:
    America is really the only country in the world with such a system.

    America is easily where I've routinely seen the most casual and revealing clothing in public places.


    Well here in Japan College baseball is as big as the pro sports.

    and Japanese fashion during the summers can be quite revealing.

    Oh, and in Holland, topples (females :p) on the beach , lake or river is nothing unusual.
  • vowel said:

    I wasn't knocking anything, trying to stay on the positive end of the spectrum here :P. I couldn't remember the name of them but a bus on rails that the traffic has to stop for is weird to the rest of the world. I still don't understand the purpose of a bus being on rails tbh though.


    Light rails are a lot more environmentally sound than buses. They also can ferry a lot more people that most buses so you can transport more people with less harmful emissions.
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    Our Light Rail/Trains. I do not know what one V found to be more weird. He also said that the bus was weird.
  • i have seen pay bathrooms on several occasions. there are 2 that i know of right now in nj. one is collinwoods auction where you have to put a quarter in a slot to open the stall door. and the other is the public style bathroom on the keansburg boardwalk where the owner sits outside and collects before you can go in.

    also its not uncommon to see double decker buses here but i agree it is a lot less common than overseas.
  • another American quirk that I have noticed is that we have authentic ________ food and then when you get someone from the country that the food should be authentic from you find out that its not. I don't get that tbh. Not sure if it is that way in other parts of the world or not though but in my mind if it says authenticit should be that way for more of a reason then someone of that ethnicity prepared it. Its like saying Taco Bell is an authentic Mexican restaurant.
  • ice tea is sugarless? i put at least a cup in mine and so does everyone else around my state
    EDIT: oh yeah states west of texas dont have sugar in their tea pfft... weird
  • really? over here (west cost) everyone put sugar in their ice tea but from what I understand we are one of the few country's that use allot of ice in general. I don't know if it is true or not but I was told once by my ex father in law that when he was in Ireland he asked for a ice tea and they looked at him like he was insane.
  • I was born and raised in Florida and I moved to Canada... here are some of the differences I've noticed.

    Cigarettes, alcohol, and all illicit drugs are ridiculously more expensive.

    Alternatively, all legally acquired drugs are ridiculously overpriced... funny how that works.

    Imperial units.

    Every family doctor visit cost me 25 dollars.

    Cable is heavily censored.

    HBO doesn't have hardcore pornography.

    I could probably go on if I thought about it.

    EDIT: this isn't a quirk but more of a privledge... but no more of that 'this video is only available in the united states. You have no problem finding SNL clips :(
  • I can't stand tea if it doesn't have loads of sugar in it. ;)
  • I can not stand ice tea regardless and few of the hot teas but still needs sugar.
  • same with coffee...I can't drink it unless there's plenty of milk/cream and a cup of sugar. lol
  • Brisby said:
    same with coffee...I can't drink it unless there's plenty of milk/cream and a cup of sugar. lol

    :D Personally I like a little bit of coffee with my sugar and cream how about you? Also I think Americans are the only ones that would say something like... "You know what they say about coffee right? ____wait for answer to be huh or no____ You don't buy it you just rent it".
  • jaded_sapphire said:
    You don't buy it you just rent it".


    If I'm the person you rented it from, you can keep it :P I don't want it back once you've drank it.

    But another american quirk is mail boxes being a box on the outside of the house.. I'm not sure about other country's as I've not been to many but here at least, they are attached to the door for the mail man/woman to slip the mail through so it's securely in our house.
  • vowel said:
    If I'm the person you rented it from, you can keep it :P I don't want it back once you've drank it.

    But another american quirk is mail boxes being a box on the outside of the house.. I'm not sure about other country's as I've not been to many but here at least, they are attached to the door for the mail man/woman to slip the mail through so it's securely in our house.

    while many people have boxes it is also quite common to see those door slots for mail. a majority of businesses have them in all the areas i have seen in the states.

    on that subject though, how many of you all have what they call a rural mailing address. all it is, is a PO box, but it is the only way to get mail (except from ups or fedex) where i live. so every day i have to go across town to the post office and go to my little box to pick up my mail. some people prefer this method...like tobin and yuzo so nobody knows their actual address when we send them stuff but for me i dont get a choice, thats the only way for me to get mail in my town. so in answer to the post above i dont have a mailbox or a door slot.
  • I use to have an rr addr that required a p.o.box when I was a kid... then they named the road that I lived on so it got an addred that could be delivered to instead of RR whatever it was I don't recall

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