29 “Incredibly American” Things Folks In The US Are Oblivious To How American They Are, As Shared In This Online Group
The internet's fascination with America—anything about it really, from the culture to its people to everything that it offers and everything that happens there—is beyond anything at this point.
This time around though, we return to Reddit where folks have been pointing out incredibly American things that Americans might not really see as a solely American thing. But it is.
Scroll down to check out people's best responses, comments, witty remarks and everything in between from the now-viral thread that nearly 33,000 people have upvoted. And why not share your thoughts and add your own suggestions in the comment section below. Oh, and don't forget to smack that upvote button. Or just press it. Your choice.
More Info: Reddit
Thanking Military Veterans
Thanking military people for their service...
Then not actually supporting them in any meaningful way.
Met a Vietnam Vet in Dallas VA.
Man had been fighting for 40 years for benefits because he had grenade shrapnel through his chest. He had X-rays SHOWING the shrapnel in his chest.
Doctors said, “that’s not a military related injury”
To this day I’m not sure where else that shrapnel could have come from
Tax Not Included In Pricing
Not including tax on prices displayed in stores.
That feeling when you want to spend your very last Dollar on a can of Arizona Ice Tea (Famously: "The price is on the can!") and the cashier asks for $1.07.
American here. When I studied abroad, I was smiling and friendly to strangers. In London they looked like I wanted to steal something from them!
Saw this with my American friends when I lived in Moscow. They walked around with this pleasant, anticipatory smile on their face and people thought they were mentally challenged.
Hah. I remember a Russian friend explaining to me that Americans just look like idiots, smiling for no reason all the time. Russians apparently smile when they have something to smile about.
I read a paper that basically says it is because of our high-immigrant past. Apparently, when people with diverse languages who cannot understand each other verbally all the time are in close quarters with each other, they use physical cues (such as constant smiling), to communicate.
Socialism = Communism
Thinking that anything remotely socialist is communism.
We all pay and share for fire and police resources but the second you mention everyone paying and sharing health resources it's the end of the world. I'll never understand it.
Healthcare is a lucrative racket and it’s built on the legal SOP that the government can’t set prices or compete in the market. It’s quite possibly the most anarcho-capitalistic market in the US but also has the most insane overhead cost barriers.
Paying For Medical Care And Crowdfunding
Paying $10,000 for a live birth and thinking that's okay.
In a more general sense, going bankrupt because of medical bills even when you have insurance. So many people in America rail against socialized healthcare and seem to be completely unaware how much we're paying and how little we're getting out of it compared to other countries.
Pretty sure the number of people using "gofundme" and stuff like that to cover medical expenses is a pretty American thing. I'd guess they do it in some other places as well, but not to the extent it happens here.
Speaking very loud in public places. I think that’s the number one reason American tourists stand out like a sore thumb.
I’m talking about a normal conversation. I get that people get louder when they are drunk or enthusiastic or super happy. But the phenomenon I’m describing here is just day to day conversation in a very loud voice. It’s like there is a lack of awareness of their surroundings. If no one is talking that loud, neither should you.
Free refills at restaurants.
My daughter and I went on a Caribbean cruise together and our first night in Orlando, we went out to explore. We had dinner at IHOP, because why not, and had some delicious raspberry lemonade.
As we were leaving and after paying the bill, the waitress says "you want to take some lemonade to go?". What? Sure. So she loads us up with a couple of new large raspberry lemonades and sends us on our way.
We still joke about to go drinks whenever we go out for dinner, because that's is definitely NOT a thing in Canada.
Payments By Card
Handing your credit card to a stranger, having them walk away, swipe it, then bring it back to like they didn’t just put a down payment on a new house with it…
When I first started working in hospitality, I had an American customer who just gave me their card. I took it to the register, paid the order with a swipe and gave it back. I was told by my manager to never do that again.
That wouldn't have been even slightly unusual here in the US. Sometimes you'll even hand a waiter or bartender your card without receiving the check, if you're in a hurry.
Driving Pickup Trucks (And Driving In General)
Daily driving pickup trucks.
Not only that, but driving everywhere. I've been living in Germany for 20 years now and when family friends visited us in Germany they were shocked how much we walk or use public transportation here. I (30f) don't even have a drivers license, its never been needed for any of my jobs haha.
Before people misunderstand: I'm talking about taking the car places that are 5-10min walking distance away due to bad city planning, pedestrian unfriendly places and no sidewalks.
Singing The Anthem
Singing the national anthem at every possible opportunity, even when the event does not involve any other countries.
It’s national propaganda. Until recently, the DoD paid the NFL ~$2M/year for “patriotic displays” (national anthem, flyovers, etc.).
I quit doing this in high school because it started to dawn on me how uncomfortable it made me feel to face the flag with my hand over my heart and declare my love for my country. I didn't feel like that, so it felt wrong to be out here saying things that, at the time, felt fundamentally untrue for me specifically. I have friends who just stopped as well and a few of them have actually been confronted/were punished for it. Which I found somewhat ironic.
I don't hate my country, but I'm not about to perform a daily ritual that makes me uncomfortable.
Air conditioning. I'm very surprised no one has said this yet.
It's not that other countries don't have heating and AC. They do. But our use of them, especially the latter during the summer, is astronomically higher than anywhere else on the planet, even when compared to other first world countries.
Getting The Bill Without Asking
Not having to ask for the bill.
This was me today at a restaurant in Oslo. It felt rude to call the waitress over to ask for the bill. Am American.
It's curious, I'm European and if someone gave me the bill without asking I would think it's rude because it feels like they're rushing me to leave
Drive thru ATMs and everything else. I didn't learn we had drive thru liquor stores until later in my life.
Drive thru atms???
This is super normal in the USA.
In fact they aren't always machines. We have drive thru banks. Most banks have a drive thru section you can do simple bank stuff from the car. I've seen this my entire life.
Sometimes, as a kid, they would send candy in the tube with my parents' transaction. Those were the best days! Banks still do this! And they often have dog treats too!
High School And College Sports
The Cult Of Highschool/College Sports.
It seems strange to anyone from Europe, but after starting to watch US sports I realised that a lot of states either don't have a team in a major league or will only have one. It's not like here in the UK where there are 92 teams in the football league and even more below that, most of the major leagues in the US only have 30-40 teams. That's why people are so invested in college sports, a lot of the time they're the only local teams.
Pointing Out The State You Live In Instead Of The Country
Might just be me, but I do notice when you ask Americans on the internet where they're from, they reply with either a state or a city instead of their country.
The thing is, it doesn't cause any confusion, since most people know most American states and at least the major cities.
You don't often see an Indonesian person, for example, say they're from West Java. Just that they're from Indonesia.
I'm not saying it's a bad thing, just an American one. I also don't think it's because of cultural variation or population. I'm Indian and I've never seen anyone say that they're from Rajasthan or Kerala on a more global level. A lot of Indian states speak different languages, have different cuisine, and live on different terrain. I think it has more to do with the fact that people broadly know American states and the distinctions between them through movies and American news and politics.
The Pledge Of Allegiance
Pledging allegiance to the flag or singing the national anthem outside of special events. I went to see a kids talent show in a small rural town, there were maybe 8 acts and 30 people watching and they all stood and pledged allegiance to the flag and sang the national anthem before hand. It was extremely strange.
Prescription Drug Commercials
Prescription drug commercials.
"Ask your doctor". Only place I know where it's the patients who tell the doctor which drugs to take.
In Canada, drug companies are only allowed to advertise if they never say the name of the drug, OR if they never say what the drug does. They can't do both.
So if you watch any Toronto Blue Jays games lately you'll see ads behind the plate that say something like "Ibuflovazin - ASK YOUR DOCTOR" and you're just like "what the fu*k is ibuflovazin".
Or sometimes you'll see a commercial that says "Do you suffer from high blood pressure? There is treatment available, ask your doctor", but without specifying any drugs.
"Aluminum", "Jaguar", And The Red Solo Cups
Am American. When I moved to Australia I was constantly asked three questions:
1 - How do you pronounce "Aluminum"
2 - How do you pronounce "Jaguar"
3 - Are red Solo cups a real thing? In all the movies whenever there is a house party everyone has a red Solo cup.
I was caught completely off guard by the Solo cup question. Ever since then I've been very attentive to these damn red cups. They really are everywhere.
Mixing three different canned foods together and calling it a casserole.
Don't forget to add cheese!
And breadcrumbs on top. Lol y'all are making me hungry.
Or those little dehydrated French onion bits.
They are deep fried, not dehydrated.
"Hey, How Are Ya?"
Asking a complete stranger "How are you doing today?"
And then just walk past them and ignore the answer.
Well, it's not actually a question. It just means "hello". That's why it's completely appropriate to respond with "hey". Even when someone responds with "good", they aren't actually answering a question. In that context, "good" also just means "hello". Imagine saying "hello" to someone passing by and then they just start telling you about their day. That's what it's like if someone treats it like an actual question.
Got a call while at work, a guy called and informed that one customer had a software license needing renewal. He asked how I was and I said I was fine, and I didn't ask back he said: "I'm fine thank you for asking", almost rudely. I'm from Norway, we don't ask strangers how they are.
Give tips at restaurants. And give even more tips for barber / food delivery / massage. And some Asian restaurants will automatically add 20% tip after tax.
A self checkout asked me about a tip two weeks ago in the Newark airport.
People decided to be a bit more liberal with tips during the pandemic if they could afford it and boy howdy chains were fast to try to cash in.
No, I'm not tipping at a damn Subway! Pay your goddamn workers!
Saying "whatever" in the most condescending/dismissive/arrogant tone.
Swedish people say something similar, actually. "Vem bryr sig?" which means "Who cares?". It's the go-to line when you don't actually have a counter-argument, or you're just too tired to argue.
British people just say "f@#k off".
Ranch (The Sauce)
Back when I worked in Panera Bread, a customer asked for ranch; we didn't carry it back then and when we informed him, he said: "Are y'all communists?!"
A few years ago I went to a American Themed restaurant in the Dominican Republic, they had a decent assortment of BBQ sauces and one of the sauces was advertised as White BBQ Sauce. I know my BBQ and I have never heard of a White BBQ sauce so I decided to ask for some... It was Ranch.... I was speechless!
Liberal = Left Wing
Liberal = Left-Wing
Yep, in Europe "liberal" means someone who supports small government, less state intervention, less public spending, privatization, lower taxes. This is generally center or center-right. Similar to what Americans call a libertarian, but usually more moderate.
People Packing Groceries
Someone paid just to bag your shopping at the checkout.
Makes me feel so awkward and uncomfortable just standing there while they do it.
Yes, I lived in the U.S. for a while and the fact that labor is too cheap was one of the big differences to Europe. People bagging your groceries, greeting you when you enter the store or pumping gas for you. None of these jobs are needed or even adding any significant value. If wages were higher they would disappear.
Excessive Amounts Of Fast Food
So much fast food.
Hosted a person from Norway for business for 5 days a few months back. That guy wanted to eat as much red meat, sandwiches and fast food as I ever saw.
I’m pretty sure food tourism for Europeans coming to America consists of trying all the fast food franchises they probably only ever see in American movies and TV shows. I was just in Europe and the only major fast food franchises I ever saw there were McDonalds, Burger King, and KFC.
Not Having A Passport/ID
Not owning a passport. I don’t know if that is a myth but I hear that a huge percentage of Americans have never been out of the country and don’t even have a passport.
I understand that the US is huge with a massive range of landscapes and climate but it still seems a little odd to me.
According to the US State dept, they estimate 37% of US citizens ~don’t~ own a passport.
I’m sure there are plenty of perfectly good reasons for it. It’s not a criticism.
Breakfast Of Eggs, Bacon, Waffles/Pancakes And Hashbrowns
While I admit the Brits are pretty close with their Full English Breakfast, the American greasy diner Breakfast of Eggs, Bacon, Waffles/Pancakes and Hashbrowns is pretty uniquely American.
My Italian mother has said in the past that it's the only things she's enjoyed about American food culture. My Nonna would be horrified if she heard we were eating fried eggs for breakfast.
This Beautiful Variety
Currently on my first proper trip in the US and a few things stood out to me. (Overall great place!):
* Restaurants by default will bring everyone cups of water, sometimes with ice.
* To pay the bill in the restaurant, they take my card and walk off. Then they come back with a few extra receipts and I can write down a tip and they will change the amount they charged me later. I didn't even know this was a thing that places could do. I have notifications to check the charges are correct just in case.
* Every toilet I've been to so far has been pretty clean with little mess. Worst one was at the airport and even that wasn't too bad. Although the very high water inside the toilet is weird it hasn't been an issue... Yet. (Some confusion about this: I'm mainly just talking about in restaurants/shops. Don't think I've used "public" restrooms at any train station. Just the airport.)
* Streets go from dirty mess to clean and nice quickly. More homeless than I'm used to in London.
* Street food/stands are pretty delicious. Pretty much all food stands in NYC seem to be halal which is nice.
* Larger drink cans/portions.
* Mixed road qualities but overall big roads and cars. Not a fan of the pedestrian crossings because I just don't fully understand the symbols yet. (E: I think I get the symbols now. It was just the red hand with the timer throwing me off. Timer should be with the white figure!).
* Air conditioning everywhere which is definitely required.
* Speeding on the highway. Literally everyone is above the speed limit. We think we're missing something because EVERYONE is above the speed limit. No shot would that happen in the UK, we have cameras everywhere.