Let’s face it, every country has its own perks and upsides as well as its weird habits and downsides. It’s completely normal, and a majority of times, one country isn’t better than another country with their own little habits and quirks since there’s always a give-and-take kind of thing going on (some countries have better healthcare, education, and things like that, while other countries might have better technology, the ability to move up in a socioeconomic status, and similar things). The United States is no such stranger to having its own weird and unique habits that confuse foreigners. So, without further ado, here’s 19 of the many odd (and slightly weird, if we’re honest) habits that Americans have:
HAVING THE PLATES CLEARED AND THE CHECK BROUGHT OUT AFTER A MEAL AT A RESTAURANT
It’s seen as rude and poor service for waiters and restaurants to leave dishes on the table and not bring the check over as soon as you’re finished eating, regardless of how long you’re there after finishing your meal
SAYING “HI, HOW ARE YOU?”
When people say “Hi, how are you?”, it’s usually meant as a greeting and not as a legitimate question that people want an actual answer to
TATTOOS AREN’T CLASSY & NOT WORTH GETTING
Although this is becoming more of an older generation/suburban & rural point of view, tattoos in America are seen as “trashy” and definitely not classy (most likely since the tattoos that are usually visible are on people with a “poor sense of style,” people who are associated with a lower socioeconomic status, people who lack manners, and/or the kind of people who are associated with shopping at Walmart and wearing cargo shorts, t-shirts, and crocs). However, with the younger generations in America, this view on tattoos is changing, and people are refusing to associate tattoos with such a negative view.
WORK BREAKS, LUNCH BREAKS, & VACATION
Time is money, and money is luxury. At least that’s the reasoning behind why companies have a limit on how much time you take for lunch breaks, work breaks (i.e., 15 minutes for every 4 hours in the food industry, etc.), and vacation. It’s better for the company – and, theoretically, you – if you spend more of your time at your job working rather than taking long breaks on a regular (and often) schedule. The way many people and companies see it is that workers need to spend all of their time, energy, and brainpower on completing their work rather than on what Aunt Suzie posted on her 15-year-old cat’s Instagram page.
EATING PROCESSED FOOD/FAST FOOD/FOOD HIGH IN UNHEALTHY SUGAR
A lot of times, this kind of food is easier and cheaper to prepare and eat, especially for families who are struggling financially; even when Americans aren’t struggling financially, this is – more often than not – seen as a better option because it saves time and money that can be put towards working and/or buying other, more expensive and more luxurious things
DRIVING EVERYWHERE & NOT ALWAYS HAVING SIDEWALKS
This has to do with how personal space is seen in America (everyone has their own personal bubble), having nearby competition, and how zoning, land permits, & other building permits work, which affects how far away stores are and whether or not people would have to drive or walk to the stores
NOT EXERCISING/WALKING ENOUGH
Unless you live in a city where you’re more likely to walk or take the subway to get somewhere, you tend to walk/exercise less because there’s less of a need to be active and stay on the move unless you absolutely need to be active.
This tends to be more of a convenience thing rather than an actual necessity, but a lot of Americans have come to view it as a necessity. After all, Americans view it as a pain to try to rush to the store by 7 or 8 P.M. just to get a few things, especially if they work until 5 P.M. and have to cook dinner and eat before they go to the store (this tends to be more of a concern for those with kids, and Americans are known for having a “weird” habit of eating dinner between 6 & 8 P.M.). Americans view it as helpful and convenient to be able to go shopping after dinner is over so that they have time to get everything they need from the store and digest their food before going to bed.
SHOPPING AT SUPER STORES & SUPERMARKETS
What’s better than having one store that you can stop at and get everything that you need? This goes hand in hand with the 24-hour stores since Americans only have to go to one store whenever they need to – usually a super store like Walmart or a supermarket, both of which are either 24-hour stores or stores that are open from 6 A.M. to midnight – because of how convenient it is for the shopper (and how convenient it is for the stores to have satisfied customers who keep coming back and spending money at the store).
HAVING YOUR PHONE AND/OR WALLET ON THE TABLE AT A MEAL
It’s okay to have your phone or wallet on the table during a meal (unless it’s a business-related meal, wedding, or funeral) & it’s not considered rude at all since it’s convenient to have your phone out already if you need to look something up or text (or even call) someone (or, on the flip side, if you’re expecting a call or text from someone).
TIPPING IN RESTAURANT
Tipping in restaurants is seen almost as a necessity for most restaurants in America. Many places are allowed to pay a set wage of $2 or less – which is way under the legal limit of a $7.25 minimum wage – because they count on the customers leaving generous tips of an expected 20% of the bill total. This doesn’t take into account customers who don’t leave any tips or customers who leave tips of 10% or 15% (while most people leave 20%, the rationale behind the 3 numbers is that 10% is supposed to be for average service, 15% is supposed to be for good service, and 20% is for exceptional and amazing service). Many people nowadays leave 15-20% tips, although it’s not unheard of for people to leave 10% or no tips.
Being friendly & smiling at everyone/having over-friendly customer service representatives (in other countries, this can be seen as someone who’s a scammer, but this isn’t true in America – people are genuinely being friendly and nice). This is because Americans deal with less scammers and conmen, and are thus more trusting of strangers. While America does have its fair share of scammers and conmen, it’s easy to spot them since most of the time, people who want your money/wallet/what have you, they’ll simply tell you that they’re robbing you and usually hold some kind of weapon up to you until you give in to their demands. If not, they’ll try to run a business similar to a pyramid scheme or one that preys on grieving people (i.e., psychics and other similar businesses).
ANIMALS IN STORES
Dogs & other animals (unless they’re service dogs) aren’t allowed in stores. Many people believe that they’re more than likely untrained and will hurt someone else (by physically attacking them or triggering allergies), which then allows the person hurt to sue the store. However, dogs are allowed in stores, shops and restaurants a number of European countries.
PATRIOTISM/NATIONALISM & HAVING FLAGS EVERYONE
Many Americans aren’t afraid to hang up a flag in their house or apartment and like to show off their pride for being born in the U.S. since they value the freedom and ideology that the U.S. and its Constitution stands for.
BEING LOUD & EXTROVERTED
The more extroverted and loud a person is, the smarter and more important they are since they are confident and unafraid to speak their mind and command a room’s attention (regardless of whether or not they’re actually the smartest person in the room or has the best ideas).
SPEAKING IN LANGUAGES THAT AREN’T ENGLISH
It’s considered rude to speak a language in front of other people, especially if it’s not English and not everyone speaks the language. The assumption is that you’re using the non-English language to talk badly about other people in the room, sharing secrets, and/or want to exclude certain people from a conversation.
LARGE PORTION SIZES
Large portion sizes are the norm for many meals and restaurants in America,(unless you’re eating out at a very expensive, high-end restaurant). Many people don’t mind having such large portion sizes because they then have a chance to fill up if they’re hungry and still have leftovers for later. That way, they don’t have to worry or stress over cooking another meal or spending more money on another meal from a restaurant or delivery/take-out service. It mainly boils down to convenience for the customer, and many companies don’t mind because of the mantra “the customer is always right” (and so the companies don’t have to worry over lawsuits from disgruntled customers; plus, they can ensure that customers are hooked and keep coming back if they’re satisfied with their meals & the company’s service).
EATING OUT/ORDERING TAKE OUT OR DELIVERY
Eating out or ordering take-out/delivery tends to be more convenient for a lot of Americans. For many Americans, they don’t have the time or money to spend on buying and cooking food, and many companies don’t always give them a lot of time off or require long hours from their workers (remember the mantra “time is money”?). Some Americans are forced to rely on easy, quick meals from restaurants or delivery/take-out services.
This is a very American habit. It’s also a good way of identifying who’s patriotic while at home and who’s American while abroad. Owning guns is deeply ingrained in American society because of our Constitutional rights to own a gun and our deep-rooted pride in living in a country where we’re (legally) free to do and own whatever we want (usually).
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As an recent college graduate who studied media studies and anthropology in college, Briana Maddox enjoys learning about different cultures, traditions, holidays, historical figures, experiences, and opinions. With a vested interest in sharing such learning experiences, Briana created Life & Anthropology in the hopes of helping other people gain a better understanding and working knowledge of such topics.