Only in America

I read something the other day that literally made me snort.

It was a list of people’s thoughts on visiting the United States for the first time…. and what they found unusual.

Here are a few.

I dare you not to laugh.

Because really…

Sometimes you need more from 7/11 than a raspberry Slurpee.

Well, we do like to super size things.

Including our hips, thighs and waistlines.

That’s so true you don’t have to laugh.

Also true.

And before your uber patriotic fingers start typing hate mail… we’re a family of veterans, I love my country. But you have to admit, we are very in your face about it.


They have a point there.

50 thoughts on “Only in America”

      1. 😀 OK….since you have given me the green flag.

        We were amazed by how much choice there was when it came to flavours etc in cafes. Every conceivable type of muffin, pie, cheesecake. The array of choice was astonishing to us.

        I have to say I was also genuinely shocked by portion sizes. After three days, I started to feel ill. The family I was staying with were over-feeding us. We ate out nearly every day (in England eating out was a special event for us, it was rare we would eat out more than once a week). I started ordering a salad because I was frightened by the number of calories and portion sizes in every other dish. But even when I ordered a salad, the restaurant served it with things I was not expecting, a syrupy dressing all over it, and extras like chips and dipping sauces.

        They took us to a cafe and bought us hot chocolate and some kind of doughnuts, which had so much sugar on them, I had the only “sugar-rush” I have ever experienced. I thought I was going to faint.

        Plus, the family we stayed with did not seem to want to walk anywhere. We had to pile into their huge SVW to go anywhere. Because I was feeling ill I explained I needed to walk more. In the end I started walking their dogs (which were rather overweight) every day. It was lovely to get out and stretch my legs and burn of the calories.

        They were such a lovely family, but we found it really odd when they wanted to sit around and watch Oprah. In England she seemed like kind of dull daytime TV. To see a family sitting thir riveted to her every word, seeming to view her as a fountain of wisdom was bizarre to us.

        Then there was the mall. Please remember we happened to be in Houston at the same time as the city was hosting the ALL-STARS. We were walking through the mall and were gobsmacked to see people wearing so much bling bling – big gold chains and bizarre clothes. We giggled as the men approached us and said “Hey Baby”.

        People queued up for hours in their cars to get into the mall car park. Huge vehicles badly parked.

        We sat in the car for almost two hours just to find a space to park up, and our driver did not want to let us out so we could walk in on foot. He said it would be jay-walking if we were to get out of the car on such a busy road. Yes the road was full of cars, but none of them were moving so we could not see the problem.

        But we knew not to mess about. Everywhere we went, if we went for lunch in a cafe, inside supermarkets, all over the city we found we were just inches away from guns. I had never seen a gun in my life (except on TV) before I visited the US. I was sitting in a cafe and just behind me was a policeman with a gun on his hip, just inches away from me. I felt so uncomfortable. I could not wait to get away from it.

        In England, Western hats and cowboy boots were only worn for fancy dress parties or by pensioners who went to line-dancing classes. When we saw people wearing cowboy hats we asked where they were heading. But it was for real. They were just normal.

        We were baffled by the sheer number of Starbucks outlets. We were more baffled by drive-through Starbucks. We were yet more baffled by the family we were staying with. We had just had breakfast and coffee….we left their house in their SVW and a few minutes later they wanted to go through the drive-though to pick up coffee and muffins from a Starbucks. I was so full up from breakfast I could not even look at the muffins without feeling sick.

        The thing we were most excited about was yellow school buses. We were so used to seeing them on TV – we all grew up here in England loving Sesame Street, and the buses looked like cartoons. To see them for real was lovely. We kept taking photos of yellow school buses.

        We saw lots of drivers on their mobile phones while driving, including public bus drivers which was very worrying.

        If we went into a cafe or chain restaurant in the evening we would often find ourselves eavesdropping on conversations around us. Sometimes we seemed to be near a couple on a date. We were left in stitches because they seemed so hyper-dramatic about their feelings. We kept on hearing “What the hell?” and “Hell no!” everywhere we went. Our friend found a bug in her taco….she went back to Taco Bell to complain, they asked her if she wanted a new taco to replace it….she yelled “Hell no!” Hell seemed to be the most commonly used word.

        Some of the public toilets were odd. Doors on the cubicles that tall people (like me) could easily see over, and a huge gap under the door too, which anybody could have crawled under (if they wanted to). I went to several restaurants where inside the toilet cubicle, there was a full length mirror on the back of the door. I don’t often watch myself pee, so that was a surprise to me.

        Customer service in America is awesome, but to us it was kind of creepy at first. I walked into a shop and a sales assistant bounded up to me and started chatting away and complimenting me on my jeans. I was worried she was trying to hit on me. But we realized that is just the very high standard of customer service that is common. We thought it was a little odd in restaurants. We ate out at a lot of Tex-Mex restaurants and before we had ordered they would place a huge basket of tortilla chips and dips and a jug of water in the middle of the table. As soon as either basket or jug were half empty, a waiter would bound up to the table whisk them away and put a full basket of chips and a fresh jug of water on the table. We hoped they were not being wasteful with the basket they had removed. The English tend to tip with a standard 10%…we are rather resentful at paying a penny more than that….so I think the effort of the waiters was misjudged in our case.

        We saw a lot of hummers – is that what they are called? Long stretch limos which are raised up on tall wheels. White, black and pink. That may have been because of ALL-STARS but there seemed to be an abundance of them.

        One of the most memorable nights was when we went to a restaurant/live music venue….and after we walked in, my friend and I realized we were the only two white customers. That was not a big deal to us although some people stared at us. Anyway, we had the best time. The band were great ad we were up on the dancefloor, but something else that made us laugh was how much the other dancers were swinging their hips. Normally if we go out dancing in England, we still have a little bubble of personal space that nobody (except our partner) invades. But as we were dancing at that venue, so many people rubbed their buttocks against mine, I felt violated! It was just different to us…but we had so much fun that night. After a few tequilas, I think me and my friend became the main feature of entertainment and we had a great time with other customers at the venue.

        Oh and something we found weird….they family we were staying with were happy to tell us their entire life history with great flair and emphasis on the emotional turmoil they had been through, but when I asked them money questions it was as if I had said a bad word. However, I am a digger. By the end of their stay, it had become apparent that they buy everything on credit. They were in tens of thousands of dollars of debt, their SVW was new and on credit, they had recently had a trip to Europe (on credit)…and yet they were eating out all the time and refused to take a penny from us towards the restaurant bills. When we realized that, we put all our American currency (we had roughly $500 that we had not been allowed to spend because they wanted to pay for everything) so we hid it in a drawer and let them know after we had left the country.

        Oh and the day we were due to arrive home….somebody had been in a rush to board the plane and had pushed through a security barrier. As a result of that the entire airport was evacuated. Everyone out. It took hours to restore some kind of order. We were scratching our heads at the scale of the reaction. There were TV crews who had turned up to film to chaos, and a few camera men decided to interview me giving my opinion of the situation. I can’t remember what I said exactly but I do remember mentioning that we had asked several members of the airport staff what was going on? Where we should be waiting?…and all I was told was “we don’t know”. Because I have worked in security at large events at stadiums and arenas and have had to evacuate when we have had IRA bomb threats or other organisations demonstrating I was used to very organised evacuation procedures, so it was kind of weird to be left hanging around for so many hours without being able to find out anything.

        Yeah….we loved our time in the US, genuinely. We saw a lot of kindness and hospitality, we saw excellent customer service and a hell of a lot of dessert. But some things were hard to forget. I could never ever get used to guns. They are disturbing. The emotional dramas, HRH Oprah, the amount of calories in even a salad, the dependence on vehicles to get anywhere, the respect for celebrities (whereas in England celebrities are always a bit of a joke) the short toilet cubicle doors were all things I would not miss.

        But we did have a wonderful time, made friends for life with the lovely family we stayed with who had endless stories about growing up with Beyonce and going to parties with Snoop Dog, and made everything sound like a soap opera….and we have the cutest collection of yellow school bus photographs that we adore.

        Our friends told us that we should visit California on our next US adventure. Texas rocked though. Truly. We had a fabulous time.

        Liked by 4 people

      2. Wow, that’s a lot to digest! Let me break it down –
        1. Americans are fat because we’re constantly eating high calorie food. And when we eat, we scream ‘supersize it!’ The fast food restaurants far outnumber the gyms and it shows.
        2. We are addicted to television. Not me, I’d much rather read… but binge watching for hours on end is a way of life. Why experience something first hand when you can lie on your couch with a bag of chips and watch someone else do it? This is also another reason we’re fat.
        3. Please don’t judge our country by Texas, they’re another world entirely. 😂
        4. I’ve never thought about our public toilets, but now that you mention it yes… anyone can crawl in and say hello.
        5. Debt. Americans are riddled with it and see nothing wrong in living way beyond their means. It’s killing us and yet no one seems to care as long as their car is newer than their neighbors. (We’ve been totally debt free for a decade and have no credit cards. It’s wonderful.)
        6. The guns and our love of them is disturbing to me as well. Especially during this current political crisis. Although… again, you were in Texas where there are probably more guns than people.
        True, we have our faults… but the amazing thing about this country is our diversity. From state to state you find completely different landscapes, ethnicities, styles, views, and culture. I grew up in a fast talking bustling city in New Jersey and moved to the infinitely slower, more laid back coast of Maine. Polar opposites in every way. But hey, California is on my bucket list… maybe I’ll see you there.

        Liked by 3 people

  1. ” The English tend to tip with a standard 10%…” And yes the British are known to be in the class of ‘worst tippers’ among servers in the USA! No excuse for it because whether they sail, fly or swim (with a dolphin) to get here they are TOLD what the tipping percentages are in the USA!!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Would you believe that it was many years before I ever tipped at all in an English restaurant? When we were going to America, we were told that tipping is absolutely not an option, it is a must. So we felt we were obliged to give the 10% tip. We presumed it was only wealthy people who would give more than that. I know that must sound barbaric…but when tipping is not part of your culture, and when you can’t understand why the keep taking away a half-full basket of chips or jug of water that we would have happily have finished…it never occurred to us to be more generous.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Different cultural norms. It’s a topic that’s close to Martin’s heart as he was in the restaurant business for many years. In a perfect world, wait staff would make a decent wage and not have to rely so heavily on tips, but here in the states the customers are expected to subsidize their salaries. 20% is normal, and if I really like the service? 30%. Going out to eat gets very expensive here!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I think that explains why customer service in the US is so strikingly superior. Although now tipping has become the general norm here in England (10%). When I grew up nobody except rich people were expected to tip. Just being able to afford to eat at a restaurant was something, we did not understand why we would give away extra money. Now we always add the 10% on. But I have been out with some older people who would not tip in a restaurant.

        I think I meant SUV in my comments above….Jack asked me what SVW meant. I had no idea. I mean a very big car.

        We came away think everything was big and oversized – skyscrapers, portion sizes, cars, credit card limits….expected tips.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. I can imagine. Because I work part-time, I don’t often eat out. We usually go for dinner at the homes of friends. Because of 2020, I think the last time I was in a restaurant was the start of March? But me and my boyfriend did go to an artisan bakery nearby a few weeks ago for coffee and macarons. Jack tipped them. He is a generous tipper, but then because people recognise him he likes to make sure he is leaving a good impression. The last thing he wants is someone cursing him because he was stingy.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Then how do restaurants in other countries do it? My SIL waitressed for years…. at times she drew a salary of $1.90 an hour because they counted her tips. That should be illegal.


  2. Love CARAMEL’s comment and your reply — the last paragraph of which this quote seems to sum up jolly well:
    “The average American is a pure abstraction, like the sociological monster known as the average man who has two and a half children.” –Herbert J. Mueller

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Kathy, when I was in Australia, I was told off for tipping. I automatically was ready to give the standard British 10% and the friends I was with told me not to. I think they would have tipped in a “posher” restaurant, but we were eating Ramen and they did not seem to think it was somewhere we would leave a tip???
      Maybe they thought it was more of a fast food restaurant. Here in England, we would never tip at a fast food outlet like McDonalds or Burger King (not that I have been to either of those for many years). Normally I would not tip in the local artisan bakeries and cafes. That’s because you place your order at the till and pay first and then carry your coffee and sandwich or cake to tiny table. There is not waiter/waitress service. But as soon as we are in a restaurant with a waiting service we think tip.
      I am convinced that Americans have a whole different rule book to tipping.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. There isn’t any expectation in Australia to tip, even at posh places. I tip if I feel the service is exceptional but I understand that the money may not go to that person. Sometimes it’s split with all staff, including cooks. Depends on their business. I suppose in Australia, we have a set minimum wage and staff don’t have to rely on tips to supplement their wages. Also probably the reason why our service isn’t always as good as what it might be in America.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I never thought of that. I presumed America would have a minimum wage in line with living costs. But then I realized they do not even have a national health service, which a lot of people here in Britain could not imagine life without.

        Liked by 2 people

      3. We don’t tip at fast food places. Or cafes where you order at the counter and take your food to your table. But if you’re being served? We tip the server. We also tip cab drivers, doormen, delivery men, hair stylists and manicurists. We also leave an Xmas card with money for the mailman every year.

        Liked by 2 people

      4. Things are making more sense.

        I tip my hairdresser. My Mum set an example for me there. (But always standard 10%). My Dadda was a window cleaner and lots of his customers would give him extra cash during the holidays or they would give him wine, biscuits or chocolates for the family.

        We have the option of tipping a cab driver but I have never seen anyone do that. Cab fare is considered very expensive.

        We don’t tip delivery men. Delivery are a funny group actually. Some are excellent. Currently they have to ring the doorbell, leave the package on the doorstep, step back at least two metres and wait for somebody to answer, then they will sign on our behalf. But we know a lot of delivery drivers who are not doing that. Instead, the just drop and run. We have sometimes been waiting for them to ring the doorbell or knock on the door, but it was only when we finally opened the door that we realized they had just left the package without trying to find out if anyone was at home. (They have always been 50/50 on that even before the virus).

        Just going back to restaurants, I have seen another kind of behavior from restaurant customers here in Britain. It’s almost as if some relish in finding a reason to complain about something. Then in an effort to pacify them and deliver good customer service. the manager will give them a round of free drinks or knock money off the bill. I know there are some people who consider that a victory of they managed to get free drinks or a discount out of a restaurant.

        Liked by 2 people

      5. Let me clarify, by delivery men I mean pizza, flowers etc. Not packages or mail.
        As for the complainers, we have those too. Always trying to wrangle freebies…
        And yes, cab fare is expensive here too. But still, we tip.

        Liked by 2 people

  3. I’m a Wisconsinite and I’m a bit sad over that sign. Not the cheese part, of course, because we’re all about the cheese. We don’t need more guns, we need more people to stop idolizing them over the safety and lives of others. As for the real Wisconsin, think cheese, Green Bay Packers, Harley-Davidson, great biking and hiking trails, the paper industry, the best brandy old-fashioned’s in the country and more, which are all much better than a gun.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. There used to be a cantina in El Prado, NM (Taos) that proudly proclaimed [BEERSLIQUORSWINE]. The opening of the cult movie (Easy Rider) was filmed there. Your post reminded me of it and I went looking for it on google pics.
    Sadly, today it is a furniture store …
    I drank there. A lot! But never worked up the courage for some swine …

    Liked by 2 people

  5. I find the increasingly display of American flags to be a patriotic love of this country and its values, and a statement of solidarity in these troubling times. I am thrilled to see more and more of them throughout yards and the landscape. God Bless America.


    1. You’ll never find those signs here. We love our tourists…. as well as their money.
      And heck, I’d have hated to see a sign like that when I travelled overseas… no matter how often I complained about warm drinks in France.


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