3.27.2008

5 Things Non-Americans notice about Americans

World views are interesting when they are different from your own. They make you think about things in a different light. Over the course of two years of hanging out with non-United-States-ians, I've seen their reactions to a few things that seem to be consistant.

1. Lawns.

Even in my own little townhouse, I am alotted a section of "lawn" where I am free to grow whatever I like - as long as its grass. The idea of having your own land and yet not doing anything with it seems very odd to the rest of the world. I have been told by two people groups, that any personal plot of dirt is readily converted into a vegetable garden, vineyard, olive grove, orchard and/or animal stall.

A vegetable plot is about as ambitious as the average american would attempt. The common folly of planting way too much of one plant usually leads to a panic of passing off the undersized extra produce to unsuspecting acquaintances. "Do you like tomatoes?" "Well, of course!" "GREAT! Please take this metric ton off my hands."
"Are those cherry tomatoes?" "No."

2. Car Accidents

Driving in America compared to driving overseas is like saying you're a decorated war hero because you were really good at Halo. Rules in other countries are just mere suggestions of what you could do to prevent death, but usually as long as you are all going the same way, Godspeed. Here, on an empty highway, with a little mist in the air, an American will still somehow manage to hit a pole and cause a tractor-trailer to jack-knife 4 miles away.

3. Supermarkets

An American Supermarket is something that only makes sense to a native born. We have trained ourselves to recognize the marketing and advertising tricks to understand what it is we're looking at. The box with the orange tiger does NOT mean that tiger meat is included. The crisco package with the chocolate chip cookie on it is not trying to be decieving. Butter IS in the store, though nothing is labeled as such ... just "Promise," "Blue Bonnet," "Smart Balance," Country Crock ... and even "I can't believe it's not butter" which is rather unhelpful.

4. Sugar

Americans are addicted to sugar. One actually has to look really hard and pay a little more to get something without sugar, corn syrup, or High Fructose Corn Syrup which should be called what it is: More Sugar. I have a sweet tooth (though filled with a porceline resin) and have taken the most dangerous sweets into my bloodstream. To date, there's only one dessert that made me question its safety - The O'Charley's Caramel Pie. Ow. That one stung a bit. Some Non-Americans look at frosting and go "why?" to which we reply with a muffled "what?" while cramming it into our gaping maw.

5. Americans don't speak English

Other cultures take great pains to speak English to move along to success in the world. Yet, when they come here, they are puzzled to learn that they can't understand a word of what we are saying. This is not their fault. It's ours.
"It is nice to meet you."
"Say there, you ain't from 'round here, is ya?"
"I'm sorry?"
"Whut. I says where you from?"
"I am from China."
"Tarnashun! That's a far piece of travellin' ya did there. Wanna take a seat?"
"Take it where?"

So if you see someone from another country and wish to approach them in conversation, please remember: They are the normal one

1 comment:

Carrie said...

Aileen was fascinated by our drive-thru everythings here, too... that sounds like the makings of the next blog :P