XXIV – Quirky Americans, part 1

Disclaimer: Upon beginning to write this post, I thought I could tackle this at one time, but in the middle of writing, I realized that this was going to be much larger than I had anticipated, so I ended up diving it into three parts. Here’s part one of “Quirky Americans”:

Pet peeves are something everyone has. Okay, for some people they’re “major psychotic fucking hatreds” (in the words of the late George Carlin), but regardless, there are things that really piss everyone off. Some things are huge; others get riled up over stupid little shit. I, for instance, have a low tolerance for stupid people and their asinine bullshit.

Some Americans get bothered by customs from other countries; and the converse holds true, as well. There are things that foreigners see when they come to the United States that either really chafe their shorts or just simply leave them scratching their heads. Now some of them I agree with; others are just whatever.

In reference to what foreigners find weird about America, I read this list on BuzzFeed, entitled “23 Things Americans Don’t Realize Are Weird”. I’ll just go down the list, in the order it was presented in the BuzzFeed article. Apparently the European author of the article has issues with all these things (you can check it out at the link above). Here, I’m just going to give my two-cents’ worth on each one.

1) Air conditioning on everywhere, seemingly on maximum

Yes, even in the dead of winter, you can walk into a Walmart and it seems the A/C is cranked. In the summer, it’s great. In the winter, we don’t need the thermostat set to 60°, especially when you need to walk by the freezer section or dairy. 🥶

2) The myriad of commercials on TV

Doesn’t it seem like every time you turn around, there’s an ad on TV? Every few minutes in a sports game, or every like five minutes during a movie or show? An hour-long time slot for, say the latest episode of The Walking Dead or your favorite movie, actually only nets about 40 minutes worth of actual program. A thirty-minute cartoon block ends up with about 22 minutes of program. The rest is commercials. I get that that’s the network’s way of making money, but seriously, aren’t the ads quite overkill?

3) Huge gaps in toilet stall doors

Here’s one that I absolutely don’t understand. When you’re in the restroom doing your business, why do the stall doors have such huge gaps between the actual door and the partitions? I don’t want anyone peeking through the half-inch gap in the door to see me sitting taking a shit; nor do I want to witness that myself. Why not install something on the door to cover the spaces and really give us some privacy while on the john?

4) Super cold drinks and super hot food

Americans have a serious fascination with thermal shock and temperature extremes. Drinks, especially water, have to temp out near the freezing point, yet they want their food piping hot, “pert-near” the boiling point. Some say that ice-cold water ingested with a hot meal actually can cause digestive problems, as well as cause any oil or grease in food to congeal or solidify in the body, making it difficult to digest and evacuate the body. In a way, it makes sense to me. Also, I don’t relish the thought of blowing my food to cool it off, or burning my mouth on 200° food.

5) This thing we call “French bread”

I suppose to the French, it could be construed as an insult. True French baguettes are small and very crusty, not the soft amazingness that is a hot loaf of our French bread, with a slightly crispy crust. C’est la vie? 🤷‍♂️

6) Seemingly endless variety of everything

One of America’s favorite expressions is “variety is the spice of life.” That’s true in many respects, but do we seriously need 50 different flavors of Oreo cookies or 15 types of Rice-A-Roni? As far as the Oreos go, I mean come on. Some of the ones I’ve seen are just ridiculous: carrot cake, firecracker (with pop rocks in it), kettle corn, peppermint bark, chocolate/peanut butter, etc., etc., etc. Where does it end? And why the incessant need to create new and utterly bizarre flavors/combinations? Why in the hell can’t anyone leave well enough alone? Look at In-N-Out. Their menu is concise and hasn’t changed at all (except to add hot chocolate). If it ain’t broke, why fix it?

7) Flags everywhere

You see it everywhere, it seems. Old Glory, the “red, white and blue”, the Star-Spangled Banner, the American flag. It’s on every post office, government building, sports stadium, practically every business and many homes. Why? Because ‘Murica. Many Americans are a patriotic bunch; gotta show their pride. After all, doesn’t the song God Bless the USA say it best? 🤔 🤨 Well, not everyone agrees. In Brazil, for example, about the only place you see their flag hoisted is at a government building. Apparently, we Americans love everything to excess.

8) Sales tax on top of prices

Now this is one that not just foreigners can get upset about. For us in America, it’s unfortunately commonplace, and we’ve been conditioned to accept it. You go to the store to buy, say a gallon of paint (I would have used milk, but some places have no sales tax on food). The shelf says that paint costs $20.00. When you get to the register (for the sake of argument, tax is 10%), you’re actually paying $22.00. Wouldn’t it be so much easier to just include the tax into the price listed on the shelf (along with other stupid fees like state-mandated oil recycle fees or California’s insipid CRV)? I mean, we’re already getting nickled-and-dimed to death by taxes and fees. Why not just include it in the shelf price, so that we can just be a little more oblivious to it? On the bright side, we in the United States might have sales tax, but at least it’s not like in Canada, where in some provinces, you’re stuck getting double-taxed, up to 15%. Yikes. 😱

9) Varying state laws

Okay, so what’s the big deal about having different laws in each state? Some national laws are necessary, but not every place is the same, so each state must necessarily have its own set of laws. No-brainer to me. 🤦‍♂️

10) Lawyer/doctor advertisements

Doctors and lawyers are like any other business, I suppose. They need to drum up new customers in order to increase their profits (especially when you consider some doctors can pay upwards of a quarter-million dollars a year for malpractice insurance). But why do lawyers advertise so aggressively? A lot of it has to do with the fact that America has become a society of litigation. Sue for this, sue for that. You looked at me wrong, I’m gonna sue! People find any and every reason they possibly can to sue someone. Easy money. There are legitimate reasons to file a lawsuit, yes. What’s ridiculous are the frivolous lawsuits some people come up with. Like one guy who tried to sue Anheuser-Busch for $10000, because, in his eyes drinking beer was going to give him dreams of being on the beach with some bikini babes. Thankfully, his case was dropped; maybe he just developed a beer belly?

Well, that tackles the first ten items on BuzzFeed’s 23 weird American quirks. Next week, we’ll continue on with some more of our quirky American behaviors. Until then, you quirky weirdos, be strange, be quirky, be weird, be safe and be well.

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