Funny, strange Americans…

I’ve often heard people say ‘Americans are pretty weird’. I can see why now.

This is my second time coming to the US but I can hardly remember my impression of America the first time (I was eight) so pretty much everything was new and fresh for me this time round. I’ve been here for just over a week and this week has been like an acclimatisation period.

The term ‘weird’ is relative so I guess different would be more acceptable. Things are done ‘differently’ in the US. Every country is in various aspects (some more than others) different and unique in it’s own way but America- America is very unique.

Here are a few reasons why:

1) America does not use the metric system. I arrived in LA on the 19th and as we left the airport en route to down town, the driver mentioned the distance we had to travel. I didn’t realise till after that he was using miles. I still have no idea how far a mile is. Feet, inch, yard and Fahrenheit are also completely useless units to me. Pretty much everywhere else uses the standard Celsius but here, most weather forecasts are given in Fahrenheit.

2) Price labels don’t have the tax included. How are you supposed to know exactly how much you have to pay? During the first few days I kept forgetting that tax is excluded in the price and thought people were overcharging us. I know that tax is different among the States, but would it really be such a pain to display prices as exactly what you would actually be paying??

3) Tipping. This took me ages to get accustomed to. How much to tip? Who to tip? Do you wait for the receipt at your table? Also, Americans have a very trusting and blasé attitude towards credit cards. You hardly need to use pins and only after they swipe your card do you put down how much you want to tip.

4) I don’t know if it’s just me but a lot of toilet seats are unusually low. There is also a lot of water in the bowl. The flush seems way more forceful. I don’t even know how to explain this without sounding bizarre but I swear the toilets are different here.

5) There are words that mean slightly different things over here (I guess this one applies to many English speaking countries). The number of people that don’t understand what a rubbish bin is, is just shocking. No one uses a bathroom cubicle, they use a stall. A girl thought I was referring to driving when I mentioned a ‘fullstop’. I also still refuse to replace my ‘s’ with a ‘z’.

So I’m feeling a bit like a FOB right now but hopefully I’ll get adjusted soon. There is so much to see and do and I can’t believe tomorrow is our last night in New York and also my last night of ‘vacation’ before I’m off to college. Being an international student will be an entirely new experience for me. I’m sure that as an international student I will come across many more unusual things that Americans do. 😛

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More embarrassing stories

Within the past two days, I have had two rather embarrassing and very typical ‘me’ moments.

The first, which happened on Wednesday, took place at my work. I work at a café and after I had just taken a customers order for coffees at the till, I was about to ask the usual ‘Do you need your receipt?’ Instead, what my ditzy self blurted out was ‘Do you need salt and pepper?’ “DO YOU NEED SALT AND PEPPER?” Are you kidding me…. Of all things… THAT rolled of my tongue.

Now, let me assure you that normally I am quite onto it while serving at the till (touch wood). I have no idea where my mind was prancing off at that moment, and thankfully rather than causing any awkward silence the customer and my boss who happened to be standing right by me laughed hysterically. Glad my nonsense can bring about a little laughter…

The second very embarrassing incident was my very rushed and awkward experience in the changing room today. I was at a clothing store called Kookai with my mum and we were rushed for time. Consequently, mum and I decided she would go do her errand while I tried on a few clothing pieces so we could leave in due time. When I was about to take off a top I had just tried, I realised I should probably never have put it on in the first place. It. Was. Too. Tight. At this point, I am totally aware of the bare time I have until we need to leave and the fact that I was alone in the store. It wasn’t like I could just ask the sales assistant ‘Excuse me but do you think you could help undress me?’ So there I was standing half naked in the dressing room sweaty and panicked. I even have a bruise near my armpit area as a battle scar of that unfortunate dressing room experience. Moral of the story: Do not be over confident in your dress size.

My recent embarrassing moments

“Dear God, please keep awkward situations at a minimum today…” –This should be my daily prayer.

 

Up till now, I have had so many small embarrassing and awkward moments that they all mash together to create one gargantuan embarrassing moment that is my 18 years of life.

My recent employment means I have several embarrassing work stories to add to the mix thanks to my clumsy and awkward self.

I have no idea how I ended up working at a café for my first proper job. Personally I feel that compared to many student jobs, one at a Café leaves much room for messing up.

I am still learning the art of taking orders at the till. If you have never worked behind the till at a café you may not understand how overwhelming the many little keys on the till for each order may seem at first (or so I hope every person starting out on this job feels this way initially and its not just my incompetency at memorising which button is for what).  

One particular embarrassment at the till happened when I was taking the very long order of a lady with her son and her parents. By the end of her order I was feeling flustered from making her wait several times while I scoured the till for the right key. I remembered last minute while processing the transaction to give her a table marker. As I reached across to grab the number, I knocked two of them off the counter and of which one fell onto the head of the little boy. All I could say was sorry. I AM SO SO SO SORRY. I wanted to bury myself in the deep hole of humiliation I had dug for myself. It’s no secret injuring a customer is probably not encouraged on your first day of work. Or ever.

Another embarrassing moment was when I was delivering two drinks to a table. In my defence I did not take the orders and was simply asked to deliver them to the table. I placed the juice down and said ‘orange juice’ and followed suit with the coffee to which I said ‘Latte’. Turned out, they were actually one pineapple juice and one flat white…. You can probably imagine the shame I felt. 

Hopefully the next time I write a post, I still have this job….

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