3 Things I Don't Understand About America
So, I went to New York for just over a week in November 2018 and there are three things that baffle me about America. I can't say that these things are specific to New York or if they are part of American culture, but I guess I'll have to visit more states to find out!
As a disclaimer, I am a traveller and these are simply personal observations that I made in a short space of time. If you are an American, a New Yorker, or can politely inform and educate me then please comment below and let me know! Afterall, travel and the people you encounter can teach you more about the world we live in.
Oh boy...We need to talk. See, I'm from a country (England) where tipping is a bonus. It is appreciated and not expected. The most rigid 'rule' you might hear is that when tipping, you should leave 10%. I've also lived in Japan where I've heard of a server running down the road to return someone's tip as if they had forgotten their umbrella on the chair.
Now, in New York, not only must I pay for the food and tax, I must also be responsible for your wages and therefore somehow become the indirect provider for your rent, college education, credit card debt and familial support. Some servers kissed up to me while other times I received awful service, probably because they assumed that I was going to tip anyway - apparently, it was my 'duty'. Tell me, if I grab the donut myself and announce the price do I get a tip instead? I saw one bill where gratuity started at 20%! This woman put water on our table and gave us the bill. I ticked a box on a paper menu to say what I wanted to eat - where’s my tip?
I've also heard of people getting offended at how much you tip, giving lip or publicly exclaiming that the amount of money you wish to pay couldn't possibly be so low. I also witnessed a bartender demand a larger dollar bill from my friend saying that he would then have more money to tip. Maybe I'm old-fashioned but surely paying you is your employer's job.
Isn't it more convenient and safer to hand over ten dollars instead of signing a receipt in a dimly lit bar with people shoving you left and right to be served next?
What I don't understand is that you have to sign the receipt to approve the transaction but no-one checks or cares if the card is signed! You could essentially pick up a lost card and sign an incomprehensible squiggle for a quick lunch at Five Guys. Sure, if you realise that you've lost your card you can cancel it and debate over whether or not you should be reimbursed, but that money is already gone and that thief has already had lunch!
If it's a large purchase or something atypical of your spending habits then you have to call the credit card company to confirm that it is indeed you using your card. This is indeed safer than someone else maxing out your card in Vegas but it also sounds like a lot of effort and potential awkwardness if you want to shamelessly splash out $200 on a date or drop $400 more than necessary during the Black Friday sales. You're not my financial advisor.
Have you ever seen someone's panties around their ankles or someone's naked thigh in a public toilet stall? I have. Now, I'd like an explanation as to why the gap between the toilet door and the floor is so dang big?
Just because we're all girls in this girl's toilet doesn't mean that we're comfortable exposing our underwear and body parts to every woman we see! And yes, I've seen naked women at Japanese and Korean hot springs and spas, but I saw that coming! A blue thong while someone does a number 2 in Grand Central station was not on the agenda.
Overall, I had a nice time in America. I got to see family and a good friend, and my once rather negative perception of America full of misconceptions and stereotypes, has changed…but you'll never hear me praise any of these three things!