10 things I’ve learned about Americans that I didn’t know before.

I love top ten lists.

I think I’ve read every single one of them online, from the top ten destinations in the world or the top ten things to do in video-games to the top ten ways to kill and dispose of a body.

Pff, like I didn’t already know that.

And the other day I realised I haven’t ever composed my own.  It wasn’t due to an oversight; I simply didn’t have any topic that warranted a top ten list.  I suppose I could’ve done the top ten nicest arses in the gym…but that is a) usually my wife’s, or b) pointed out to me by my wife which means it’s technically her top ten and not mine.

So I thought long and hard (smirk) about it and I discovered I did have something that warranted a top ten list.  This is something that encapsulates a lot of ideas I’ve had recently and pulls them together into one post.

You see, before I moved to the USA, I knew there were certain eccentricities, weird behaviours and foibles the Americans had, like the inability to keep quiet, the lack of portion control or the fact they are easily offended by every single thing ever.

Seriously, you call someone a cunt once…..

But there have been a whole shit-ton of things I didn’t know about until I was actually amongst them. And by ‘shit-ton’, I mean ten.

So here are ten things I’ve learned about Americans that I was blissfully unaware of before I lived here.

 

1 – They’re crackers about soup

I’m being literal here, they can’t comprehend that soup can be eaten without first shoving in fistfuls of crumbled up crackers.  In the UK we have a famous brand of crackers called Jacobs and we put all sorts of things on them like cheese, hams (deli meats), spreads and various types of pâté, but I’ve never ever heard of anyone anywhere…ever…crumbling them up and putting them in their minestrone.

Now I think about it, I haven’t seen pâté since I’ve been here.  Probably because there’s no sugar or caffeine in it.

crackers

They’re crackers about crackers…

Anyway, I’ve asked a few Americans why they put crackers in their soup and I get the same blank look and awkward shrug I always get when I ask them why they do what they do.

They simply have no idea.

It’s just what they do apparently.  Some say it’s due to the crunch, but that has to be utter bollocks because the crunch dissolves in piping hot soup in less time than it takes for a redneck to finger his sister.

Note – I just asked a work colleague (and fellow blogger) if that last sentence could be considered more offensive than funny.

He asked me “Do you find it funny?”

I do.

He then asked, “Is it more funny to you than offensive?

It is.

“Then post it”.

I did.

He then followed up with “Did you know that ‘incest’ is the most searched word on PornHub?”

I didn’t.

So sister-fingering stays.

Worryingly, I wouldn’t have even questioned this a year ago.  I would have just written what I found funny and hoped you lovely readers out there would just ‘get it’ (the humour, not the finger).

My god, am I becoming more American?  Am I worried you’re going to be offended?  Am I going to appear on this list?

Nah.

 

2 – They don’t do rounds in a bar

I realise I’ve already covered this one in a previous post, but it really did catch me by surprise.  Interestingly, one of my friends who reads my blog has actually started to go into rounds with me when we go out drinking (shout out to A.G!).

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I still find it bizarre that everyone buys their own drink and then complains that it takes forever to get served.

 

3 – Energy drinks!

This is another one I’ve already bleated on about, but seriously…what is going on here America?  You guys drink more of this shit in a day than is available anywhere else in the world over the course of an entire year!  It’s got to the point now where fridges in gas stations across the land are awash with hundreds of different brands, flavours, sizes and strengths.  It seems to be the answer to everything here.

Need a pick-me-up? Have a Red Bull.

Hungover?  Have a Monster.

Heart not beating fast enough?  Down a Rockstar (but not in a groupie kind of way).

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Some people imbibe these Taurine infused, over caffeinated silos of flavoured sugar water with the regularity and ferocity of chain smoking vapers, but more twitchy.

 

4 – TMA (Too Many Acronyms)

I already knew about things like the FBI, the CIA, the DMV or the KKK…and there are the obvious ones like FYI, WTF, OMG, ETC…

But I had no idea how much Americans love to acronym everyday shit….every day.

E.g. (see what I did there?)

TMI (Too Much Information – something I was hearing a LOT. I wonder why.)

BRB (Be Right Back – although why people don’t just say “Be Right Back”; it takes the same amount of time to say….and in the time it took to explain that to me, they could’ve been right back)

CPA (Certified Public Accountant – How the fuck (or HTF) was I supposed to know that?)

FSA (Flexible Savings Account, and NOT the Financial Services Authority!)

FMLA (The Family and Medical Leave Act – It’s a thing out here related to being off sick from work, or something.  Personally I thought it was something to do with a vagina)

TFTI (Thanks For The Invite – This is really a thing.  I’ve heard it used in conversations.  I tend to reply with ‘NP’ which doesn’t go down too well)

PSA (Public Service Announcement. It’s not a service if I don’t know what it means)

CPS (Child Protection Services – something children actually use to threaten parents with; those precious little fucking snowflakes)

OAB (Over Active Bladder, and not Old Aged Bastard as I first thought….although they are closely linked)

HOA (Home Owner’s Association – A governing body that tells you what you can or can’t do with your home, maintains the upkeep of the lawns and parks that you never visit and charges you a fee for that.  Doesn’t that sound like fun?)

HOV (High Occupancy Vehicle – This is a lane on the Freeway (motorway) for cars with more than one person. That’s right, in America, TWO passengers is considered high occupancy)

SOP (Standard Operating Procedures – and NOT something you use in the shower)

EO (Early Out – This is when you leave early from work…because simply saying you’re leaving early is too much, apparently)

QBR (Quarterly Business Report – It makes sense now that I’ve written it, but try being in a conversation when it’s being used every other word and you can’t understand why they keep talking about a UK football club).

It’s a little OTT, TBH.

FFS.

picard-acronym

 

5 – Their jokes are just awful.

Americans can’t tell jokes.  I mean, they can TELL a joke, but the jokes aren’t funny.  Back home we have things called Christmas Crackers which two people pull apart and they make a loud ‘snap’ noise (the crackers, not the people).

cracker-pits

These dogs are about to snap (groan)

Inside these noisy little bastards is a crap little toy, a flimsy tissue paper crown and a joke; a tame, vanilla joke intended to not cause offence in any way.  It’s simple humour to appeal to adults and kids alike.

That’s the sort of jokes I get told here.  Things like, “Where do you take a sick bee?  To a waspital”. Seriously, it’s like that.

I once tested the water with a Jimmy Carr classic; “What do you get if you put a baby in a blender?  An erection.”

The water was cold.  Very, very cold.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve been told some genuinely funny jokes in the US, and my new and awesome American friends are some of the funniest people I know, but overall I’ve noticed an innocence in the joke telling here.

This from a country that brought us Family Guy.

Weird.

 

6 – They subscribe to foreign stereotypes.

I knew America had a warped view or the world – if Epcot is anything to go by – but they REALLY believe the stereotypes of the world.

For example, they genuinely believe that the English (or ‘British’ as they call us, which I’ve given up trying to explain) drink high tea every day from small porcelain cups and saucers with our pinkies firmly sticking out.  They also believe that we accompany this tea with either scones or crumpets.

They also find it hard to believe that English muffins aren’t English, French toast isn’t French, and German chocolate cake isn’t German. The irony here is the fact they call Belgian waffles, ‘waffles’….and those genuinely ARE Belgian.

stereotyped-world

When you tell them this, they look at you with the tilted head of a puppy and simply don’t believe you.

Minds, blown.

 

7 – They are the centre of the world, literally.

I was shown this.

usa-centre-map

America, the centre of the world

And apparently, so are children.

Yes, that’s right, schools are apparently teaching this version of the map of the world.  I asked my wife about this and her face dropped before then bursting into laughter saying it was true and she had forgotten that schools actually teach this!

As much as I try and keep my blog light and funny, it does sadden me that so many people I’ve met here are truly clueless about anything outside the US borders.  One woman my wife worked with thought Europe was a country and didn’t know Britain was an island.  I’ve even spoken to people who didn’t know there was a difference between Austria and Australia.

I’m not going to say anymore about this because I’m sure this will be the basis of a future post.

 

8 – Can’t recycle.

I know there is a huge drive to recycle in America nowadays – and so many people are doing it – but that’s not what I’ve experienced. It warms my heart that my employer has recycling bins everywhere, on every floor, and I love opening those bins up and seeing paper, soda cans and…food?  Yes, that’s right, America seems to believe that food is recyclable.

Technically it is, but that’s called ‘poo’.

It’s not only food I’ve seen; there’s been tissues, plastic wrapping, broken mugs and body parts.

Oh, wait, no…never mind.  I haven’t caught anyone putting the wrong things into the recycling bins so that’s not happened yet.  Give it time.

recycle-rage

And it doesn’t stop with recycling.  The USA is unbelievably wasteful.  There are so many products that have a one time use and then are thrown away (in the wrong bin).  People will use a paper/plastic plate to spread cream cheese on their bagel (because, apparently, if it isn’t cream cheese, smoked salmon or some shit called ‘schmear’, it doesn’t belong on a bagel) and then throw away the plate and knife. I’ve been asked to eat off paper plates at home because it ‘saves on washing up’, but it doesn’t save the world (which, as we all know, spans from Maine to California)

The other day I was waiting at a red light behind a car and the driver opened her door and threw out all her rubbish onto the road.  And then, without a care in the world, closed the door and didn’t look back.  If she had, she would’ve seen me giving her the finger…and not in a redneck/sister kind of way.

 

9 – Entitlement

Again, I’ve already talked about how entitled people are here, but I had no idea to what extent.  Jesus, some people here believe the world owes them a favour.  I’ve encountered people like this in my life before, but not on the scale I have in America.

Here’s an example that caused this to make my top ten list….

I heard a tale of a customer who had been sent a gift by a company for being a great customer.  They sent her a beautiful, hand carved, solid wood shoe rack.  The customer had mentioned in passing that she really wanted one, so they decided to treat her.

She received the gift and then, instead of being grateful, called in to complain it didn’t fit in the part of the room she wanted it to and was forced (yes, ‘forced’) to donate it.  She then demanded discounts on all future purchases for the stress and grief caused by receiving a gift she couldn’t use.

In England we would keep the shoe rack, even if it was an inconvenience.

No, really, it’s fine.  Honestly, it’s fine.  No, it’s lovely, I promise.  It’s fine.  I don’t want to be a bother.  Seriously, it’s fine.  Thank you. Sorry. Sorry. Thank you.  I’m sorry.

hold-door

I can’t tell you the amount of times I’ve wanted to do this…

 

10 – Subtitles for accents!

If you watch any TV show or documentary in America where they’re talking to someone with an accent…there are subtitles.  Now, for clarity, I’m not talking about people speaking a different language than English.  No, these people are actually speaking English but with an accent.

I’m not talking about complicated accents like Glaswegian (because no-one understands those guys, not even the Scottish), but instead Italian, French, Spanish, German, Alabama etc…

I couldn’t believe it.

Is America so unable to understand an accent that’s not home grown?  Mind you, I’ve been misunderstood more times than a redneck fingers his…..oh, wait, I’ve done that joke.

I said, I-‘V-E   B-E-E-N  M-I-S-U-N-D-E-R-S-T-O-O-D  M-O-R-E  T-I-M-E-S  T-H-A-N  A  R-E-D-N…oh, never mind.

bowtie-anger

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The tale of apes and alcohol

Yesterday (Friday), was a pretty amazing day at work.

Firstly, it was the last day of training at my new job which meant it was ‘graduation day’.

As part of graduation day we were asked to collectively choose a theme. As there were almost 60 of us, we all pitched in ideas and then put them to the vote.

Considering the date of this post, you wont be surprised to read that the consensus was the vastly unimaginitively unoriginal theme of ‘Hallowe’en’

Or ‘dress up in whatever the fuck you want’ day.

I wanted to represent the British sense of humour, so I went as a Whoopie Cushion.

No, really.

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What’s even better is that my co-worker and friend Trevor (the guy in the picture with me) decided his costume would be ME!

Yes, that’s right….his Hallowe’en costume was ME!

He even had tattoos drawn on his arm.

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They say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. Personally I find it to be a really good blow job.

But Trevor wasn’t swallowing it.

Also, it’s worth noting here that us Brits don’t use the word ‘costume’ when it comes to dressing up like a bunch of idiots.

We call it, ‘fancy dress’, and we wear ‘fancy dress’ to a ‘fancy dress party’

It was my wife who made me realise that fancy dress is a stupid way of saying it.

“I say Nigel, your attire is positively fancy”

It makes us sound like prancing twats with lace handkerchiefs in our hands and thumbs up our arses.

Anyway back to graduation day.

As a Brit I didn’t realise the sheer magnitude of the word ‘graduation’ here in America.

In England it’s not a big deal and conforms to the dictionary definition of ‘receiving an academic degree or diploma’.

In America it means ‘A celebration that is batshit crazy like rabid gibbons in a banana farm’

Seriously, it was lunacy at its best with over the top celebrations for (essentially) turning up every day and learning what you were taught.

I’d heard that people had failed training in past training groups but the quality of the training and the sheer determination by the trainers that you actually LEARNED the content only suggested that these cockwombles were either asleep, dead or too busy masturbating in the toilets to pictures of gibbons in banana farms.

But that’s not why I’m writing, although I hear http://www.bananafarmgibbonlove.com is getting some traction, as is Kleenex.

No the reason I’m writing is because I made an interesting cultural discovery about my American chums, particularly when it comes to bar etiquette.

After the graduation ceremony had finished and all the gibbons had been rounded up, we all decided to celebrate by wiping off the remnants of confetti, silly string and mashed banana and going to a local bar.

We piled in and made a beeline for the bartender.

Straight away I got the first round in.

“Right, who wants a drink?” I asked.

I received requests for 2 Bud Lights, a Jack Daniels and Coke, a pint of Guiness and a some vodka cocktail thing that was far too complicated to be a drink; I think there were body parts and aviation fluids mentioned.

Anyway, the round came to about $40 which I was happy to pay.

My co-worker who had ordered the complicated vodka monstrosity kept offering to give me the money for her drink. I found this to be a little odd and slightly insulting.

Did she think I couldn’t afford it? She’s usually so lovely.

I blame the booze.

Anyway, my beer was downed in about 3 minutes and after about half an hour I was getting thirsty for another, but no one had offered to get the next round in.

Fuck it.  I headed to the bar again and joined some of my fellow graduates.

Like before I offered to buy them a drink.

This round was about $30.

‘No biggie’ I thought, ‘at least I’ll have a few drinks come my way later’.

About an hour passed and one of the guys came over with a bottle of Bud Light and said “this is because you bought me a drink earlier”.

Well obviously.

And that was it.

We were in that bar for almost 4 hours and no-one other than one person (thanks Justin) bought me a drink, or even offered.

I found this to be a little weird. I thought these people liked me.

Later that night I told my wife about it and she enlightened me.

Americans don’t do rounds.

Seriously, they dont do rounds…they only buy drinks for themselves – or for a friend or someone they’re trying to shag.

Oh god, do my co-workers think I was trying to get in their pants? Do they now feel that it was a blatant attempt to throw one up them?

This might explain why my lovely co-worker and friend was desperate to pay for her drink. She must’ve felt guilty and was worried she might have to, ahem, ‘flatter’ me later on.

It’s OK, I’ll tell her it was Trevor all along.

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