XXV – Quirky Americans, part 2

“Quirky Americans” was originally intended to be one post, but it quickly became way too much to read in one sitting. In part one, I discussed my thoughts on a European’s list (found on Buzzfeed) of 23 things common in America that were weird to a foreigner. And now, the continuation of “Quirky Americans”

11) Superhighways

Where I live in southern Utah, the widest stretch of road is three lanes; most, however are one or two lanes. In some places, one side of a freeway can have as many as eight lanes, though that is usually reserved for where multiple freeways diverge. One example of a horrendous and extremely wide freeway is the 405 in southern California. At 14 lanes wide, it’s one of the busiest roads in the country (if not the busiest), and definitely one of the worst to drive on. 😵

12) “Standard” vs Metric measurements

Now here’s a rather controversial one. Just about anyone from another country will be confused as fuck at the way things are measured in this country. How far is 5 miles? Seventy-five mph? How much gas is in a gallon? These are some questions caused by confused tourists who are accustomed to the Metric system, used in every country in the world, except the US (obviously), Liberia and Myanmar (formerly Burma). “Standard” units, where a gallon is 4 quarts or 16 cups, a pound is 16 ounces, a mile is 5280 feet, and water freezes at 32° and boils at 212°.

Why do Americans still refuse to go Metric? Partly to be different from the rest of the world, I suppose. Mostly, though, it’s because everyone is comfortable with it, and people don’t like change. Changing requires a new way of thinking, and It takes people out of their safe place. At one time back in the 1970s, there was a push to convert the country to metric. There are still remnants of this movement, but they are scarce. Honestly, though, the US is halfway there as it is. Car speedometers have miles per hour and km per hour (in smaller print), scientific and medical uses are metric (15 ml of medicine, not one tablespoon), and every product purchased has ounces/pounds and metric equivalents printed on the package. In fact, sodas are sold in one- and two-liter bottles. A big drawback to metric conversion would be the prohibitive cost of replacing freeway signs. Well, that and sheer stubbornness.

13) Drug commercials

Here’s one that is at the same time laughable, pathetic and somewhat comedic. A commercial or magazine ad for some prescription drug. Ask your doctor if “fuckital” is right for you. The ad starts asking if you have such-and-such a problem. It the describes how wonderful Drug X would be, and how it would help so much. Then, the side effects. Side effects may include….and goes on for the next 75 seconds of a two-minute ad. That’s because they are required by law to disclose all known possible side effects (including death, however remote the chance might be). Then they always want you to ask the doctor if it’s right for you. What they don’t say is that there is no generic for this drug, and it will probably run you hundreds (if not thousands) of dollars for a month’s supply. Part of the prohibitive cost of non-generics is the billions that drug companies spend to go through the FDA regulation process, applications, testing, etc. The outrageous prices are a way to try to recoup the cost of getting a drug approved for market.

14) Constant server interaction

In many countries, when dining at a restaurant, you’ll be hard-pressed to find your server. They’ll take your order, bring the check at the end of the meal, and go when called. That’s because in those countries, people like to talk and visit, eat very slowly, and a restaurant is more like a social gathering. No hurry, no indigestion. In the United States, however, people are much the opposite. Customers want to be catered to their every whim, servers available at their beck and call. If the slightest thing is wrong, customers want a server to yell and at complain to. They want their drinks constantly filled to the brim. God forbid my glass get below three-quarters full! A visit to a restaurant for some is to go, eat and leave. No conversation, no frills. Others want to sit for hours, but still see a server every minute. And if the server forgets to check their tables constantly, oh you’re a bad worker! No wonder waitressing is so fucking stressful! (I’ll be talking about the tips later)

15) Beer/smokes at pharmacies/gas stations

People love their beer. Many are falling out of love with cigarettes, but that’s a good thing. However, there are still many places to get them: grocery stores, drug stores like Walgreen’s and gas stations. Wait a second? Why do Walgreen’s and CVS (etc.) sell these things? You’d think that a place that sells prescription drugs would not sell some of the very things to which they sell cures/antidotes. 🤨 Then again, why would you be able to buy beer and tobacco at a gas station? You’re not supposed to smoke while getting gas, and drinking while driving is illegal. Why are these places facilitating this? Seems like an oxymoron to me…

16) Big honkin’ vehicles

Most other countries have small cars for the most part, even going to the sub-compact category (largely due to exorbitant fuel prices). Why then do Americans have a boner for humongous vehicles? A recent report stated that Americans are “falling out of love” with sedans, and more and more want SUVs and large vehicles. Um, I don’t get that. Are they compensating for something, or the lack thereof? I get a large family owning a van (I have four kids; a minivan was necessary). But why wouldn’t a single person own a little car, just to haul a few things? Isn’t fuel economy important? I’d rather have a small car for driving to and from work, only spending $20 for a tank of gas, than a Yukon that costs upwards of $75-100 to fill up. But that’s me. Another thing: trucks. Why so many huge fucking pickup trucks? Ford is practically eliminating their passenger car line, to concentrate on trucks and SUVs. I think that unless you have a family, are buying a shit ton of groceries, or you work in construction/buy building materials, you don’t need anything but a nice passenger car. There again, that’s me.

17) People walking around everywhere in sweats

I guess in other countries, people actually get dressed to do everything. Go to the store? Gotta put on pants. Walk half a block to check the mail? Put on pants. Some people in America don’t give two fucks about anything, and they’ll go run their errands in the clothes they slept in (some of them without even the effort of brushing their teeth🤮). Others just want to be comfortable wherever they are. Some can pull the look off fine. Some, however, should never be seen in public without decent clothing on. All you have to do is go see the website called People of Walmart. There you’ll find prime examples of people who either shouldn’t go out in public or who could not give a fuck about anything. Either way, the pictures there are either hilarious or downright cringey. Now, I’m guilty of running kids to/from school or going to Walmart wearing sweatpants. At least I look semi-decent doing it!

I guess that’s long enough for this segment. Jeez. I initially thought that this would be quick. I’m only done with 17 of 23 American quirks, and there’s still plenty to discuss. I guess the remaining six things will be there next week!

Weird, I never thought I’d end up doing a multi-part blog post, but here we are. I guess a little suspense is good even in a blog🤭. Until next time, for part 3 of this adventure, be safe and be well.

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