United States of America

What are some things about Americans that make non-Americans cringe?

Answer

Todd L Ross
08/28/2019

Tourists adventuring in America are losing their appetites over conversations about tipping.

After all, what's the fun of facing off against an absurdly-sized triple cheeseburger that could feed a family of four if you're focused on remembering the guidelines of gratuity.

Oh wait; that's right, there are no guidelines!

Instead, there are only arguments about percentages for tourists to contemplate as they chew and that's enough to put a bad taste in their mouths that even the most massive burger can't overpower. The concept of paying people to do their job because their employer isn't adequately doing so is a nonsensical concept to some visitors. Tipping only becomes more troublesome when blank gratuity lines appear on the receipts of small purchases, such as a coffee or tea. Who gets that money anyway—the barista or the server?

Just as Americans themselves can go round and round bickering over this controversial topic, tourists can spend just as much time griping about everything that annoys them about America! Tipping is one such topic, but there are 10 others that especially grind their gears.

Speaking of money, U.S. coins only make monetary conversions more confusing.

So, just to be clear, not only do the names of most of the U.S. coins have no correlation to what they're worth, but the penny, which is only worth 0.01 cent, is larger is size than the dime which is worth 0.10 cents but smaller than the nickel which is worth 0.05 cents...

It's no wonder everyone in America is quick to pull out their debit and credit cards!

And one more thing—Abraham Lincoln deserves to commemorated and all, but the fact that taxpayers have to fork up the money to produce pennies is seriously no bueno.

Asking "how are you?" isn't an invitation to tell your life story.

In the U.S., most people issue this inquiry in passing—"passing" being the operative word. It's simply a cordiality, not a conversation starter. So imagine the strange looks tourists receive when they offer a verbose reply to this question, forcing the asker to pause in place and actually listen (oh the horror!).

It's nothing personal, really. Americans simply prefer the CliffsNotes to the novel that is others' lives. Chatting is something they prefer to do over a coffee (usually scheduled, rarely spontaneous).

Don't even get them started on the measuring system the U.S. has in place...

Fahrenheit, feet, pounds, yards—WHY?!

Americans are intent on measuring things their own way. When it comes to global measurement uniformity, the U.S. isn't interested...even if the metric system is considered a first language to many around the world and one of the greatest tools in existence.

But, then again, is there really anything wrong with having two ways to accomplish one thing?

The term football literally makes no sense the way Americans use it.

You don't have to be a sports aficionado to know feet only play a small role in American football—used primarily to carry players up and down the field and occasionally for punting. What is called soccer in America is commonly called football beyond its borders. Debating use of the terms could become a sport in and of itself! But in the spirit of pointing fingers, it's worth noting that the term "soccer" was actually borrowed from Britain.

On the topic of wonky wording, what's the deal with the "World Series" and "World Championships"?

For a tournament to be coined a "world" series, shouldn't it involve...the world? Just a thought. (And no, including Canada doesn't count!) Plus, a series of competitions that involve the world already exists—it happens every four years, medals are distributed, the day of the elaborate opening ceremony might as well be a holiday—ringing any bells? (Um, hello! The Olympics!)

But the U.S. loves its lavish language, so the likelihood of title changes is quite low.

Americans can't take criticism (despite their obvious love for dishing it out).

When it comes to spouting off the phrase "if you can't take the heat, stay out of the kitchen," Americans don't typically practice what they preach. Instead, sensitivity is the name of the game! As Spain resident Ailsa shared with Thought Catalog, "Oh, I love Americans. They’re so sweet and delicate. Like little flowers, you must be careful with what you say to them."

Forget freedom of speech (unless what is said is politically correct).

"Yo no hablo ingles" isn't going to fly.

To say Americans (or perhaps humans in general, lately) are easily offended is quite an understatement, and the inability to speak perfect English is at the top of some people's pet peeves lists. Forget that being bilingual or trilingual is a highly impressive, sought-after skill or that English is an extremely difficult language to learn.

How difficult? These sentences from the Columbia University EdLad site sum up the struggle perfectly:

"The bandage was wound around the wound."

"The soldier decided to desert his dessert in the desert."

"A seamstress and a sewer fell down into a sewer line."

Americans don't have more fun.

Unfortunately, the majority of Americans aren't granted many vacation days to begin with, but their tendency to let their vacation time slip by the wayside has workaholics written all over it! In 2013, half a billion vacation days went unused in the U.S., according to "International Business Times."

Living a life dictated entirely by a paycheck? Pass.

Americans are LOUD.

A whisper voice in the U.S. is a regular speaking voice to those who visit from other countries. It's one thing to be outgoing, but just know outsiders are fighting the urge to loudly tell you to pipe down. Take note, noisy Americans: Your voices are typically 27 percent louder than your visitors are used to, so be respectful hosts and bring it down a notch (or 10).

(P.S. They also don't understand your use of over-the-top adjectives. Is that ice cream cone really "AMAZING"?)

Portion sizes are preposterous (served with a side of irrationality).

How much food does one person really need? Piling plates high with deep-fried delights and sticking a low price tag on them is practically an American tradition. The "less is more" mentality is often deemed illogical (at the expense of increasingly clogged arteries). Bottomless fries, endless pasta, and all-you-can-eat buffets aren't going to sway their stomachs. Servers, don't be surprised if tourists order one item off the menu and manage to feed six people!

The "land of the free" has its fair share of endearing elements, but it will probably always be a wee bit baffling (and vexing) to visitors!