My last post was about things that are “so Polish” and someone suggested I write a post about things that are “so American”. Since I was just in the States for 2 weeks (it was glorious – In Florida it’s like 25 degrees now!), it was a lot easier for me to recognize those things and make some comparisons. So here are 10 things that are “so American”.
1. Chitchatting with every person possible.
This includes waiters, salespeople, and the guy standing behind you in line at the store. This is to create the illusion of rapport with people that you interact with, sometimes on a daily basis and sometimes once. Somehow you had a successful day if you’re able to have a positive interaction with the cashier at the store. It gets exhausting, but also you get used to it after a few days.
This is one thing I quite like about Americans. We’re able to see the good in the bad and just roll with it. At least that’s what we tell people and that’s ok I think. Maybe you had a bad day, but you know what? Tomorrow is another day. A common phrase you hear among Americans. Of course you don’t lie and say everything is fine when everything is shit, but you don’t dwell. This can of course go the other way when people refuse to tell you anything negative, even if you’d really like to know how they really feel. I guess it’s just easier to lie and not cause any uncomfortable situations.
3. Drinking and driving.
This is unfortunately common in the States. The blood alcohol content (BAC) limit is .08 (or .8 if you’re a Pole… still don’t get that. I guess it’s a different measurement). That means you can have a drink or two and still be within the limit, depending on many factors of course. For that reason, many people tend to take the risk and go for it. Also, public transport isn’t very popular, so sometimes there isn’t much choice but to drive if you want to go out and that also leads to more drinking and driving. It seems like a lot of people don’t do it in Poland because the limit is so low that it’s not worth the risk.
4. Thinking you’re the best (as opposed to Poles who think they’re the worst).
Americans are infamously self-confident. It just oozes from their pores. I think it’s just part of our national character. We’re encouraged in school to participate, give our opinions, etc. and it’s important to be confident if you’re going to put yourself out there so much. We love people who love themselves (think: Kim Kardashian) and that’s what we all strive for.
5. Thinking America is the best country in the world (as opposed to Poles who think Poland is the worst).
It’s really true, even among people who’ve never traveled abroad (maybe especially among those people). Americans are brought up with this idea and I really notice it when people ask me about my decision to move to Poland. It’s hard for a lot of people to imagine why you’d ever leave America. Patriots!
6. Organic food.
Don’t get me wrong – I think organic food is great, but everything is organic in the States nowadays. They even have organic charcoal. Maybe someday even organic water! It’s kinda insane but also kinda awesome as you always have the choice. There are some things that I wish I could get organic easily – meat and fish, every fruit and veggie, all dairy products. But sometimes I think people mix up organic with healthy. Just because a cookie is organic doesn’t make it good for you. It’s still a fucking cookie.
7. Smiling at random people.
Every time I come back from America I have to switch my brain back into Polish mode and not smile at all people I pass by. It’s hard at first!
8. Driving everywhere.
Weird thing is that gas (benzyna) is two times cheaper in the States but engines are way bigger so I guess it evens out. But the speed limits on the highway are low! The fastest you can go is 75 mph or 120 km/h. I met with someone in a cafe while I was back home and they lived across the street but still drove claiming it was “easier”. If that’s not American, I don’t know what is!
This goes along with driving everywhere. Americans generally have pretty convenient lives. What I mean is They have all the modern conveniences with a low price – air conditioning, dryers, cheap gas, affordable cars, affordable housing, all the new gadgets first, etc, etc. When we go elsewhere and these conveniences aren’t there, it’s really hard to adjust. wah wah.
10. Tipping way more than necessary.
I feel like tipping is a little extreme in the US. Why do I have to tip someone a dollar for opening a beer for me? Or for giving me a coffee? In restaurants, ok, but 20% or more? I know waiters don’t make much money in America, but come on.
What else do you think is so American? Solo cups? Drinking games? Fraternities and sororities? Yeah those things are super American too but I didn’t feel like explaining them! Feel free to put your ideas in the comments below!