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!).

busy-bar

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).

11806581

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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America – will you ever be able to cut it?

OK, here’s an experience that a) happened about an hour ago, and b) I was not expecting.

Let’s start with some exposition…

Today I have friends coming into Vegas from the UK and, amongst my girly squeals of delight because they’re bringing Cadbury Dairy Milk chocolate with them, I thought I should look at least half presentable for when we see them.  After all, they’re the first visitors we’ve had since we moved to Vegas almost three months ago.

I had a few things on my ‘to do’ list this morning to prepare for their arrival.  These included: Go to the gym, get petrol (gas), wash the car and get a haircut.

So I went to the gym, filled the tank (of my car; I don’t actually drive a tank…although if I did, my last post would’ve been a little less ‘ranty’ and a lot more ‘splatty’), took the car through a car wash (and vacuumed it out with the FREE vacuum cleaners they provided.  Yeah I’m looking at you, Britain) and headed to the barber shop to get the ol’ noggin [1] sorted out.

I found a place called ‘Great Clips’ which, to be honest, I thought may have been a film editing company.  I still wasn’t sure until I got close to the front door.

I entered and was immediately greeted by pretty much all the stylists.  You’ve got to love America for that.

Now for some more exposition…

In an English barber shop you walk in, maybe nod and say hi to one or two of the stylists (if they look up) and take a seat.  When one of the stylists has finished with a customer, they come over to the sitting area and say ‘who’s next?’.  At this point there are slightly confused and awkward looks amongst guys pointing at each other and saying “I think it was him” because no-one is entirely sure who was next.  That said, if someone, who came in after you, tries to jump in front they are quickly and politely stabbed to death with the closest scissors available.

Back to the story.

So I smile and say hi back to the stylists and turn around to take a seat.  At this point a lady came over to the desk and said “Hi, have you been here before?”

“No” I said, a little unsure why that mattered.

“Ok” she replied in a voice coated in vanilla syrup, “that’s fine, if you would like to fill this in”.

Note that this wasn’t a question.  She was telling me to fill in a slip of paper she’d slid across the counter with a pen.

This slip asked for the following information: Name, telephone number, address, zip code, Whether I was an Adult, Child or Senior (which is still an adult, isn’t it?) and the ages of my children.

I filled in my name and my zip code and then stopped.  What was I doing?  What is this?  I’m here for a haircut, aren’t I?  Is this so they can send me videos of my hair being cut, hence the name ‘Great Clips’?

The woman came back with her sugary smile and, me being me, I had to ask.

Me – “Sorry, I’m a bit confused here, why am I filling in all this information?  I only need a haircut.  I’m not unwittingly signing up for a credit card or something am I?”.

Her – “Ha ha, no it’s so we can send you coupons in the future, and the telephone number is so we can bring up your profile”.

Me – “My profile?”

Her – “Yes.  It’s so we have a record of how you like to have your hair styled and if you decide to use one of the many other Great Clips in the city they will be able to bring up your details too”.

Me – “Oh, so you’re a chain?  Right, gotcha.”

I said this in a tone that said “oh, right, well that makes sense then, of COURSE you can have all my personal and private details so that you’re better equipped to cut the hairs on my head!”….but more sincere than you’ve probably just read it.

After all, I didn’t want to appear defensive, despite this being a weird fucking practice for a haircut

She took the completed slip from me, still smiling, and started entering my details on her computer.

I took a seat and watched her type far more than the information I’d entered on the slip.  About 15 seconds went by and she said “OK, ready?”.

What was the point in suggesting I take a seat?

Anyway, I followed smiling Susan (or whatever her name was) to her chair and took a seat.

She smiled at me (or at least I think it was a new smile, it’s possible it was the same smile she’d been wearing since I arrived) and asked me how i’d like my hair.  I couldn’t help but grin because the next time they’ll probably ask for my telephone number so they can enter it into a computer and then look up the information I’d imparted to her in the last 5 seconds.

Grade two back and sides, and a bit shorter and choppier on top.

No technology, no slips of paper.  Just common sense.

She then put a strip of white tissue paper around my neck before fastening the usual black cape over it.

In fact, I looked like this.

bib

There was suddenly an elephant in the room.

Me – “I look like a priest”

Her – “What?”

Me – “I said, I look like a priest”

She stopped, looked at me in the mirror and then laughed.

Her – “Ha ha ha, yes I suppose you do!”

Seriously, you’ve NEVER made that connection?  Has no-one EVER made that connection before?

I’m not religious man (let alone a priest), but I was praying her hair cutting skills were better than, well, everything else about her so far.

And then we were off.

What followed was 15 minutes of company encouraged smalltalk, including (but not limited to): “How’s your day going today?”, :How long have you been in the US?” (at least she didn’t think I was fucking Australian), “So what do you do?” and my personal favourite “I would love to visit England but I haven’t had the chance yet”.

No shit?  Really?  Wow.

Also, I’ve noticed that over here the stylists seem scared to touch your head, either with their hands or the clippers.  Is it just me?  Do I have a greasy or gross head?  When I’ve had my hair cut in the past the stylist would actually press the clippers against my head, like you’re supposed to.  Here I barely felt them.

My ‘grade two back and sides’ is more like a range of grades from two to four.

Are they worried I’ll sue for physical abuse?  Will I have to stand up in court and show a jury ‘where on the teddy bear’ the stylist touched me?

Probably.

(rolls eyes)

Anyway, after we were finally done and she’d cut my hair from a distance of eight feet, my substandard haircut and I stood up, paid (with tip….which I still don’t really know the etiquette for) and left.

On the drive home I couldn’t help but wonder, what would happen if I wanted to change up my hair style in the future?  Would I be allowed to?  If I didn’t say anything, would they just go ahead and cut it like last time?

Also, do they store every different style I have in their computer forever?

Surely none of this is as efficient or accurate as asking the customer when they’re IN THE FUCKING CHAIR?

I can’t help but worry that my profile might get mixed up with a 65 year old lady with a blue rinse and a double crown; that’ll make for an interesting look!

So there you have it.  The haircut she’s given me is now what I can now expect at ‘one of the many other Great Clips in the city’ from now on.

After all, it’s on my profile now.

Yay.

bad hair

[1] Slang for head.  Not to be mistaken with the words ‘nosh off'[2] or ‘blozza'[3]

[2] Slang for blow job

[3] See [2]