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14 American Mysteries I Haven’t Solved Yet

 

American Mysteries

When was the last time you were really puzzled about typical American behavior? For example the obsession over the greenest lawn, cheese everything or the mysterious gap in bathroom stalls. I notice stuff like this all the time and while it’s sometimes frustrating (see 70 degrees), most of the time it’s just amusing. We do live in a different culture and that comes with a ton of differences. I listed some of the mysteries, that I have a theory on, but haven’t really solved yet below. Enjoy!

The Public Bathroom Door Gap

This is something that really puzzles me. And I believe not even Americans know the answer to that. Whenever you’re using a public bathroom there is this pretty wide gap (almost an inch) between the door and the stall. I thought Americans are known for being prude. So why are they allowing such clear insights into their privacy in a public bathroom? Is it to let more air in or just sloppy but very consistent engineering?

The Perfect Lawn


I noticed a lot of Americans who are very passionate about having a perfect lawn. Some people even spray green paint on it to give it the perfect shade of green (not just on St. Patrick’s Day!). No weed doesn’t go untreated and they mow, fertilize, aerate and water their lawn like crazy. When we moved into our first house here in Charlotte, I thought I had to keep up with all the watering and maintenance, but I quickly figured it’s a battle that you can only win by pumping lots and lots of water and money into the soil. Not worth it to me, because that stuff is expensive. And why do I see so many sprinklers running during the rain? Is water so cheap that they just don’t care about it going to waste?

70 Degrees

Imagine it’s the middle of summer with temperatures in the 90′s and you’re wearing a sweater at work, your fingers are almost freezing off and you develop a cold from the stiff breeze of the A/C fan, that always seems to blow exactly at you. 70 degrees seems to be the default temperature in offices and some co-workers even go below that. Sweating is a the big NO-NO in the American work culture and they rather freeze than sweat. It doesn’t matter if some colleagues are so cold, that they bring in a mini heater to put below their desk. And if you dare to mess with the thermostat and set it to 72, it’s just a matter of seconds until the first person says “Whew, it’s kinda toasty in here”. Same with malls and stores in general: they are equally cold and if you forget to bring a warm layer to throw on, you’re in for a nice little cold – in summer.

Hating Nickelback

Whenever I hear the name Nickelback during conversations with Americans, I don’t hear a single nice word about them. Americans seem to hate Nickelback with a passion, but the exact reason remains a mystery to me. Some say their music is just not good, but frankly I enjoy quite a few songs of them and there’s way worse out there. I can’t speak for all of their songs, but the ones that made it into the charts in Europe are usually pretty good. So what’s the deal with Nickelback, America? Please enlighten me, because I can’t figure it out!

Cheese Obsession

Triple cheese on pizzas, orange cheddar cheese on salad and spray cheese on sandwiches. What’s the deal with cheese, people?! And it’s not even good cheese! There’s literally cheese on EVERYTHING. Most disturbing to me is when there’s this awkward orange cheddar cheese on the salad that I ordered for lunch. I usually end up having to scrape it off.

Pizza Crust

My daughter started to eat her pizza the American way a few months ago, because she must have picked it up from her buddies in school. And that is eating everything but the pizza crust. I immediately called her out on it and asked her to eat the entire pizza. I’m not really sure what is wrong with the pizza crust and why they can’t just eat it. It’s usually pretty good when it’s not oily and fatty like the rest of the pizza. The only exception I would make is when you had a cheese stuffed crust from Pizza Hut. I noticed the same behavior with German style cheesecake at some point when I was having American friends over. They only ate the filling and not the crust, which frankly tastes like a cookie. And I thought Americans love cookies!

Burger Buns

My number one complaint about any burger in the U.S. is the lack of good bread. It always comes in this sweet, soft bun that tastes like a sponge. Any burger would be so much better in a nice European style bread roll or Ciabatta roll. It seems like the headquarters of all fast food restaurants must be in the Southern part of the U.S.

Hand Sanitizers

I know a few people who use a hand sanitizer after every contact with another person, an item that is not theirs or something else that they fear could be loaded with germs. Wherever you look, there are anti-bacterial soaps and wipes, hand sanitizer pump stations and small handy sanitizer bottles for on the go.
I get that Americans just don’t want to get sick, because being sick usually means you’re not getting paid after you used up your very few sick days (if you even have any). However, this obsessive fear of germs is kind of ridiculous and in the end just counter-productive.

TV 24/7

In many American households the TV seems to always be on, starting early morning. Some even have multiple TVs spread out in the living room, kitchen, man cave/garage and even bathroom to never miss anything. There are TVs in restaurants, doctor’s offices, airports, the DMV… the list goes on. In short, TVs are EVERYWHERE and people can’t seem to get through the day without staring at a TV. Sometimes I wonder if the TV is primarily for the staff, so that they won’t miss anything. Or is this a service to the customer? They now stare at their cell phones anyways and don’t even pay attention.

Workaholics

Check any statistic about vacation days worldwide. America is always amongst the countries with the lowest amount of time off. Why is that? Are Americans workaholics? Do they really rather work than spending more quality time off? Or are companies just exploiting their staff by sticking to the American “norm”? I really miss my 30 days of paid vacation, that I had in Germany. Here in America, I had to start with 5 days including sick days.

College and Daycare Cost


One of the biggest financial shocker to me was how much daycare charges for their service. It’s just as expensive as a good college, but you can’t tell a 2 year old to start waiting tables to help supplement the tuition. While this one is totally up to the parents, college doesn’t have to be. Many students are working several jobs on the side in order to pay college tuition and when they don’t have their parents to help out financially, they usually have to get a student loan, which will haunt them for the next 5-10 years after getting their degree. And still Americans are so proud of the college they’ve been to, that they sometimes even hang up pictures of the building in their work space.

15–20% Tip

15–20% tip on every meal in a restaurant. And people pay it without hesitation and with a smile on their face. They are so used to that being the norm, that they keep tipping waiters in other countries the same amount. Much to the joy of the waiting staff, who immediately starts treating you like a royal family. Maybe that is the true intention of generous tipping. Anyways, restaurant owners are laughing their butts off, because they get away with paying their waiting staff a ridiculous salary and have the customer make up for the rest. Increased profits for the restaurant and more expensive meals for the consumer. It works in America, but why?

Paper Checks

America is the technologically most advanced country in the world, but a lot of people still pay with old fashioned paper checks. People are maintaining check books and holding up the line in the grocery store by filling out a paper check instead of just handing over cash or a card. But wait! Some smart innovators finally realized that bringing paper checks to the bank is too time consuming. So, banks started to offer apps that let you scan your paper check and deposit it to your checking account with your cell phone. Way to go, America. Let’s just toss the paper checks altogether and with it the imperial system.

Perfect Teeth

Okay, this is not teeth envy, America, but you really make our European teeth look so much worse. It really stands out that Americans take a lot better care of their teeth. They have to be super straight and whiter than white. Not sure if you get bullied in school for not having straight teeth in America or what the deal is. But everyone who can afford it seems to strive for that Hollywood smile.

Have you figured out some of the mysteries above? Please tell me in the comments!

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9 Responses to “14 American Mysteries I Haven’t Solved Yet”

  1. Christian says:

    Hello Dan…I wanted to have the opportunity to explain some of these phenomenons through my personal perspectives and observations as an American born and raised in sunny southern California…

    The public door gap:
    I literally cannot explain this phenomenon as it annoys me so much that the people who design all the public restrooms in this country simply cannot close a simple gap in a restroom stall for needed privacy…But I heard it’s the same way in Canada…

    The perfect lawn:
    I really do not know why it is this way but Americans really want to live in perfected suburbs with perfect lawns and cul de sacs that matches the perfect modern colonial tract home…However, water is very cheap in America and apparently quite expensive in most other countries, especially Germany…I noticed this when I had two German exchange students live with my family and I was always curious and surprised about the fact that they didn’t shower every day like most American teens and the showers they did take were incredibly short…only 10 to 15 minutes…Take note that I live in a very desert like part of California and water costs are above the national average as well as the fact that we are going through a decade long drought yet we can still more than afford to keep our lawns green and well watered plus take our 30 minute long hot showers everyday like normal Americans…A German girl once asked me if it’s true that we wash our clothes after wearing them for one day and when I told her it was true, she was shocked and thought it was a waste of water and electricity and very unnecessary…lol, I found it quite disgusting that they didn’t wash their clothes after wearing them once and that they didn’t take showers every single day…I still do, no offense…but that is a lot of body oil and dirt on their bodies and in their clothes…nothing can offend an American more than bad body oder…it’s the biggest sin and taboo of our times and I hope that never changes…yuck! America, let’s keep our ten showers a day! But to be fair and unbiased, I think this is partly due to high water costs in Germany a much more mild climate in Germany…Here is a terribly outdated statistic from 1999 comparing water costs by country, adjusted for purchasing power parity:
    http://www.lenntech.com/specific-questions-water-quantities.htm

    Here is an updated statistic on energy costs by country, adjusted for purchasing power parity:
    http://theenergycollective.com/lindsay-wilson/279126/average-electricity-prices-around-world-kwh

    70 degrees:
    Lol…Like I said, body oder is the biggest offense to an American and to avoid being sweaty and gross, we take our unecessary 10 to 40 showers or baths a day…

    Hating Nickelback:
    I can’t explain this phenomenon…maybe it’s because they’re Canadian…May I remind you that this is the same nation that brought the world Justin Bieber so whatever hate Canada gets is well deserved!

    Cheese obsession:
    We love our tasteless orange mystery cheese!

    Pizza crust:
    Pizza crust is pretty bland without the tasteless orange mystery cheese and sauce, plus it’s a filler so maybe we avoid crust because of the taste and to avoid ruining our appetite for more pizza…That’s why in restaurants they say you shouldn’t ruin your appetite by filling up on free bland and terrble American bread in order to save room for the main course…

    Burger buns:
    I don’t know why it is like this…bread has never been seen as a sort of a food you’re suppose to enjoy but rather a filler or to help keep sandwiches in one piece…I know that Europeans love bread and they even eat bread as a main course with many things added onto it such as spreads and cheeses…This type of bread culture does not exist in the U.S. and Canada (excelt perhaps French Quebec). In America, bread exists to support the goods inside the sandwich or burger…

    Hand sanitizers:
    This has nothing to do with avoiding getting sick in order not to use up sick days at work but just a subconscious and psychological desire of the American public to be clean and to avoid disease…This has to do with strong government PSA’s during the 40′s, 50′s and 60′s that taught the public and school children that personal hygene and cleanliness was incredibly important to your personal health and to society…

    TV 24/7:
    I have noticed this as well and I have no idea why it is this way…it’s very unnecessary but it’s everywhere…I think it’s there to serve as a distraction and to avoid boredom…Also, energy and electronic goods are cheaper here than almost anywhere else so that maybe another reason why we have a higher capita of televisions than almost anywhere else…

    Workaholics:
    Yes, we Americans work far too much and for some odd reason we are alright with that…I have no idea why it is this way, I guess it gives us all a sense of purpose, pride and the ability to BUY! BUY! BUY!!!!! unnecessary products, goods and services! However, every time someone from another country mentions that they get “paid” vacation days, it really doesn’t make a difference in the fact that American still have far higher income after taxes and greater purchasing power parity due to low cost of living than any other nation in the world, and this still doesn’t change the fact that even with paid vacation, the average Americans still has more income with unpaid vacation, after taxes…The only difference is the amount of vacation days…in which, Americans and Canadians have very little compared to most other Western nations…It sucks more for Canada because they get paid less, have an overall higher cost of living and significantly higher taxes compared to the U.S.

    Here is a study done comparing countries by income based on purchasing power parity and cost of living:
    http://www.bloomberg.com/visual-data/best-and-worst/highest-salaries-in-oecd-countries

    An American dollar is worth more and will buy more in America than any other nation’s currency is worth or could buy in that nation’s economy…However, this study does not include the higher taxes these other nations have to pay compared to the U.S. (except Switzerland)…

    College and daycare costs:
    The daycare costs I cannot explain, however, “free” university systems vs. tuition systems I can give a new perspective about:

    http://qz.com/85017/college-in-sweden-is-free-but-students-still-have-a-ton-of-debt-how-can-that-be/

    Let’s look at Sweden for an example shall we?…Sweden is usually the model for a high quality of life and standard of living in Western Europe and university in Sweden is “free”, however the cost of living and rent is not…In 2013, 85% of Swedish students graduated with debt compared to only 50% of U.S. students…However, even though average American student debt ($24,800 USD) was 30% higher than average Swedish student debt ($19,000 USD), American students paid off their debts quicker on average (10 years) compared to Swedish students…This is due to the fact that when American students graduate, they face higher income, significantly lower taxes and a significantly lower cost of living throughout their lifetime compared to Swedish students…Swedish students will be paying for their “free” university degrees, as well as everyone else’s, through very high taxes every single year of their lives until the day they die…Yet, even with “free” university, more than 60% of Swedish adults do not have a university degree and have not used their “free” university which means that the majority of Swedes will be paying much of their yearly income to high taxes for something they did not, do not or will not even use, until they die…This does not include the student debt Swedish students have to pay off along with their high taxes, lower income and much higher cost of living…With the help of scholarship programs and generous government grants such as the Pell Grant, American universities can be more affordable than other tuition university systems such as in Canada and the U.K., and be more affordable in the long-term due to lower taxes and a lower cost of living compared to “free” university systems that pay for university through very high taxes on income every year even decades after graduating university and recieving your degree…American university maybe expensive in the short-term but you save more money in the long-term if you pay for your university…Does this make sense Dan? Another thing I would like to point out is the fact that even though university is “expensive” in the U.S. and “free” in Germany, the percentage of Americans with university degrees is significantly higher than that of Germany…42% vs 26%…This includes vacational program colleges in Germany as well as associate degrees in the U.S. In terms of professional degrees, more than 30% of Americans have bachelor, master and doctorate degrees…This is the 4th highest in the world behind Canada, Japan and Israel…

    15%-20% tip:
    Here is the federal law requirement for minimum wage workers that recieve tips in the U.S.:
    http://www.dol.gov/elaws/faq/esa/flsa/002.htm

    Against the popular stereotype that American waiters recieve less than the minimum wage, federal law requires American waiters to be paid AT LEAST the federal minimum wage and if they do not earn enough in tips, the restaurant must compensate their pay by making up the difference…This means that being a waiter is one of the most lucrative and best paid minimum wage jobs because a waiter must be paid at least the minimum wage and can keep a certain percentage of their tip money, which means that it is possible to be making much more than $7.25 an hour…Many foreigners critisize the U.S. minimum wage as being too low however, the U.S. has the world’s 10th highest minimum wage when adjusted for purchasing power parity in 2012:
    http://www.bloomberg.com/visual-data/best-and-worst/highest-minimum-wage-countries

    However, keep in mind that this study was done on purchasing power parity adjusted for the cost of living but the study does not include taxes as all the nations on this list that have higher minimum wages, pay significantly higher income taxes every year…

    Paper checks:
    I think this is done in the U.S. and Canada simply because of high bank charges and fees on all things except for checks…banks do not charge us on checks and this saves us all a lot of money in the long-run and throughout a lifetime in endless fees…just like drive-thru everything, especially drive-thru banking. ;)

    Perfect teeth:
    Now this I can explain…This all has to do with massive dental hygiene campaigns, marketing and advertisements in the 1950′s and 1960′s that urged and convinced the country that having perfectly straight and unnaturally white teeth was an absolute must and necessity…and it worked! I will show you a good example and it will all make sense once you watch these two toothpaste ads from the early 1960′s…During these days, television was a new medium and it was a great propaganda tool to convince the public to buy unnecessary material goods and services in order to conform and fit into a newly formed prosperous and homogenous culture immediately after WWII…I hope you find this very fascinating and interesting:

    http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=xFydzXFcA-Y

    http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=gVleU9WqyWY

    Here are two other examples of propaganda ads from the early 1960′s on certain brands of cigaretts and soda:
    http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=F4vUwl7YGes

    http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=E_Tee9E9GK4

    http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=ch6HafID4DM

    Notice the music, clothes, settings and overall layouts and message from these corny yet clever ads…They show that successful, well-educated, young and beautiful people use these products and services and that these services are of the utmost quality by stating facts, studies and statistics…Of course they do that today but this was during a time when marketing through television in every houshold was a new phenomenon…

    I hope this helps solve some of these mysteries for you Dan! :)

    -Christian

    • Dan says:

      Wow, Christian. Thanks for your great comments. This is an article by itself :)
      Here are my comments.

      The perfect lawn:
      Yes, it’s true that some Germans only shower once a week and they keep it short and practical. My wife’s grandparents even managed to just take a quick bath with about 4 inches of water in the tub once a month. Yuck!! However, I am happy to share that both my wife and I take a shower every day, and most of our clothes lands in the laundry basket after wearing them once. The exception are jeans or shirts that didn’t touch the skin and still smell like laundry detergent.

      Nickelback:
      Yes, Canada deserves some hatred for sending over the Biebs. :)

      Workaholics:
      Very good points! It’s true that we earn more and pay less taxes in America. And I’m tired of people asking me “how much is that in Euros”, so that they can better judge whether or not something is a good or bad deal. I really like how you put that.
      It does however make it easier to officially have more vacation days than having to take unpaid vacation. It’s this psychological border, that keeps people from taking unpaid days off and sometimes companies will even hold it against you if you take too many of them.

      College and daycare costs:
      The high daycare cost could maybe be because of high insurance payments. Americans like to sue and insurances know that, so they probably charge horrendous premiums.
      Good example with Sweden, Christian. Regarding the percentages of university degrees between the US and Germany, you have to take into account, that young Germans have the choice between a free college education and a free apprenticeship. A lot of Germans just go with an apprenticeship and they earn their degree with that. In America apprenticeships are almost non-existent with a few exceptions.

      15-20% tip:
      Even though it’s federal law, the customer still pays full price for their meal plus the waiter’s salary on top of that. Not sure how and when they got this law to pass, but it’s one of these examples where you think you only pay a certain amount and end up paying a lot more. Sales tax would be another example.

      Perfect teeth:
      Thanks for all these commercials! I had a lot of fun watching them. Yes, it was a very influential time and probably the same time when Edward Bernays helped to sell the public that fluoride in the water is great for your teeth, even though the industry just tried to find a cheap and easy way to get rid of industrial waste.

      Thanks again, Christian, for all this great information and links. I will probably use one or the other in some Facebook posts. It definitely helped to shed some light on some of the mysteries.

      • Christian says:

        Hallo Dan! Danke for responding to my very long comment! :)

        I’m glad that you and your family have assimilated greatly into American culture by being obsessed with smelling like a bar of soap and detergent all the time. :P

        I do agree with you that there needs to be far more vacation days…There needs to be greater tolerance by companies for their employees needs…

        I don’t think high premiums are mainly due to lawsuits…after paying off their employees, paying insurance claims and medical bills, rent and utility bills for offices, and many other costs with doing business, the average insurance company’s profit margin is typically only about 5%…The real profit makers in the healthcare industry are drug and medical technology manufacturers that have profit margins typically of more than 10% or 20%, then they charge hospitals and insurance companies through the roof due to drug and technology research and development costs:
        http://voices.washingtonpost.com/ezra-klein/2011/02/health-insurance_industry_stil.html

        Another reason to why insurance premiums are high is due to the 12-20 million illegal immigrants living in the U.S. which, by law, cannot be refused medical care:
        http://www.examiner.com/article/the-really-inconvenient-truth-illegal-aliens-are-causing-sharp-rise-medical-costs

        Allowing endless millions of the poorest of the poor of third world countries to illegally flood the U.S. is never smart or wise immigration policy and we must all be ready to suffer the negative consequences if we choose to tolerate this type of anarchy, for this is the result:
        http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=QD-PC1Xy_k0

        Relating to university degrees, the apprenticeships (vocational training) were included into the study as the other Western European nations that have these types of apprenticeships such as the U.K., Sweden, Norway, Finland, etc. all had higher percentages of the population with university degrees than Germany, all above 35%…However, I think this phenomenon in Germany has to do with its unique history and the large gap in the standard of living and education attainment among Germans educated in former East Germany before and just after the reunification of Germany in 1990…It seems that West Germany has always had a very similar level of education and standard of living as the other Western nations however, it seems higher education was not a priority in East Germany at the time and so the large number of German adults educated before and just after the fall of East Germany have lower knowledge of math, reading and science as well as a low number of university degree holders compared to German adults educated in West Germany…Most of the Germans that I have met so far, including the German exchange students that have stayed with my family, have come from West Germany and have even said it was a running joke in the western part of Germany that with all the problems integrating and assimilating the eastern part of Germany, that they should have kept the wall up! ;) What part of Germany are you from?

        If you would like to see where I got my study from, this is the link:
        http://www.oecd.org/germany/

        Click on “Statistical Profile of Germany” and scroll down to “Education” and look at “Tertiary attainment in population aged 25-64″…you can also go back a page and compare many other countries…

        OECD.org is a widley trusted and used data and study source comparing Western nations…

        On sales tax, I really wish they would include sales taxes on the final price but I think this is done on purpose to trick millions of foreign visiters in added tax revenue…This is just my suspicion and Canada does this as well. Those damn evil Canadians…

        I read about Edward Bernays, he seemed to be a very interesting character…and he is correct about public irrationality…Humans are emotional beings first and foremost before being logical…For example, even with all the statistics, data, figures, logical numbers on the flat screen monitors in the New York Stock Exchange, these were useless against the unstable and panicked emotions of the stockbrokers back in 2008, which nearly collapsed the world economy…the same irrational emotions that brought on the stock exchange crash and resulting Great Depression in 1929.

        If you would like to see more capitalist propaganda from that era, here is a rare 25 minute color propaganda film by the Chevrolet Company from 1962…It was done to promote the American way of life, standard of living and free-market capitalism during a time when the U.S. was at war with communist Russia…Note that this video holds some historical significance as this film was released the same year as the failed invasion of communist Cuba by the Kennedy administration:
        http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=wTzhLjog86Y

        Maybe you can compare some aspects of America in the 1950′s and early 1960′s with modern day Germany…notice how people in the U.S. never dressed casually in public, how formal people were, when it was common for woman with children to stay home rather than work and so forth…

        Some other videos I wanted to show you were also from that era…The first video you might appreciate since it’s a song about a German play about a German assassin…The song is called Mack the Knife, originally “Die Moritat von Mackie Messe”, and sung by Pearl Baily and Dinah Shore, in original color, on The Dinah Show Show in early 1960:
        http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=LaxBVUOkyLs

        The second video is a song about southern hospitality, culture and people and it is sung by Ella Fitzgerald and Dinah Shore in color as well:
        http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=Skth17Ky-HA

        I know Germans don’t think we have culture, but I believe we have a very strong and beautiful culture if you look beneath the pop culture crap…would you agree?

        -Christian

        • Dan says:

          Christian,
          Thanks again for another very detailed and educational comment/article and all the supporting links and videos :)
          I really like reading through every time and appreciate all the time that you put into it.

          To answer your questions, I am from Western Germany and I know about the jokes that have been made by Western Germans about the East and the wall. However, these jokes are usually from Germans who don’t have the slightest idea about how life beyond the wall really was and about the family tragedies that occured when they built it. Families were literally torn apart and people were killed just because they wanted to reunite with their beloved ones. I am glad they finally tore down the wall and reunited what belonged together, even though it cost the Western part of Germany a lot of money.

          Regarding the American culture, please don’t listen to people (German or not) who just repeat what they hear from other people who don’t have the slightest idea about America, let alone its culture. I know all these stereotypes that people like to talk about when it comes to America. One of it is its lack of culture. The only real point that they might have is, that the U.S. doesn’t have as long of a history or a thousand year old buildings than European countries. But that doesn’t really mean anything. A culture is so much more and what I like about the American culture is, that it’s a melting pot of many different cultures. Both my wife and I feel so comfortable here and don’t want to leave again. That, I think, says it all.

          Christian, please let me know, if you would be interested in writing a guest post for this blog. You seem very knowlegeable about a lot of things and research your comments very well. Please contact me, if you are interested. You would be an awesome contributor. :)

          • Christian says:

            Hi Dan!

            I completely understand what you mean about pretentious and condescending groups of people stereotyping and mocking an entire group of people…And I think the U.S. and Germany have a similar history when it comes to prejudice due to America’s 250 years of slavery and oppression among African Americans…so I can empathize with you about those western Germans that mock and stereotype eastern Germans…It’s just like those pretentious liberals from the northeast and west coast that mock southerners as stupid, backward redneck morons and they justify their negative judgments and stereotypes with negative statistics about the standard of living and quality of life of southerners compared to the rest of the country…However, these people are unaware that the standard of living among African Americans and European Americans in the south are not the same because European American southerners have the same standard of living and educational attainment and background better than the national average while the large African American population of the southern states remains very poor, has a much lower education attainment and higher crime rate compared to the rest of the country…So when people from the northeast and west coast mock and stereotype southerners in a negative way, they are actually not aware of the fact that they are accidentally, and ironically, being racist and calling African Americans, who mostly still live in the south even today, as stupid, backwards, illiterate, violent, obese, backwards, etc. I’m sure after living in North Carolina all these years, you’ve become fully aware of the large gap in the standard of living and quality of life between white and blacks in the south, which is also ignored by politicians and the national media?

            http://kff.org/other/state-indicator/poverty-rate-by-raceethnicity/

            It is because of this that the large income gap between poor and rich in America has never been an issue because the problem was never the gap between poor and rich, it is the gap between black and white…and now Hispanics as well in the past few decades…

            Being pretentious, condescending, arrogant and judgmental is just another form of ignorance, naivety and irony…and ego is blinding…The world is not black and white, facts are stranger than fiction, and things are never as they seem and appear to be…There is the way you view and judge things through a subjective perspective, and there is the way you believe or want things to be…then there is the objective reality of things that exists true independent of your beliefs, judgments, criticisms and perspectives…

            Anyway, I wouldn’t mind doing a guest post. :) What topic would you have in mind?

            - Christian

          • Dan says:

            Great. I am going to email you with some thoughts and ideas about a guest post :)

  2. Alex says:

    Hi Dan,
    I found your blog from a comment your posted on another blog. I came to the US with my wife and son in 2006. You blog would have been a great help had we known it before we came here.
    She is from Eastern I am from Western Germany. So we know about all the different ideas both sides have how each side used to live before and how they got affected by the reunification. I loved how you put it.

    I love your list, because you bring up all those things we found curious as well. Only the lawn was new to me. At least were I live that’s done by a company, so all lawns in the neighborhood get the same treatment. Most things we simply got used to, only he bathroom gap still bothers me. If you asked me I’d prefer Japanese bathrooms…

    Well, tomorrow I’ll met a dear colleague who has spent 6 months in Berlin. I am pretty sure she has her own list of funny German habits. She already mentioned the pushing in lines and the rude traffic habits…

    I also found Christian’s comments quite interesting. It is really interesting or funny (depending how you see it) what are the causes for many habits. Like the massive dental campaign that worked really well, Germany had a massive “green’ campaign in the 80′s. That worked so well, that I still cringe when someone leaves the room without turning off the light…

    After almost 8 years in the US, I must also say that I often no longer know if something is done just in the U.S. or not.

    • Dan says:

      Hi Alex,

      Thank you so much for your nice words. Glad you like the list and also read through the (long) comments!
      My newest theory about the bathroom gap is, that they maybe do that on purpose, so that little kids can’t get their little fingers squeezed. You know the US is all about the children.
      Not sure if that’s true though. Just a theory…

      I agree with you, that some things are probably not an American thing anymore, but is becoming an international habit. For example easy access to credit like in the US. I’m sure if Germans would have the opportunity to get money that easy, they would go for it as well. It’s all a matter of being exposed to something (good or bad).

  3. Zhou says:

    These are great. My wife LOVES Nickleback (she’s Chinese) and it is so embarrassing. Why? I have no idea either! There are a million worse bands out there – like every other pop group. But I still hate them with a special passion.

    There are two that I never really understood but accepted because I am ’murrican – then I moved away and now they just confuse me:

    1) An obsession with the American flag. Flags everywhere and turned into stuff. Flag shoes, pants, buttons, kites. NO ONE ELSE DOES THIS. Did you forget where you are? Afraid people might think you don’t love America? It’s just weird.

    2) Cheerleaders. Why? On all levels, why do they exist?

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