4 things I don’t understand about the U.S

As I mentally and physically prepare to leave the United States for good, I realize that there are still a couple of things that I don’t understand about this culture. What have you guys noticed?


Isn’t part of the job description to be polite? It is, after all, called the service industry. My understanding is that you tip as a thank you for their service, and you tip more or less depending on the quality of the service you receive. Before I get hate messages articulating that tips are the source of waiter’s livelihood, let me be clear. I’m not saying that we should all stop tipping in the States- I realize that people cannot live off of minimum wage. But there’s a bigger picture here.

The fact that American society has created a system of exploitation where industries are allowed to pay their employees $2-$4 an hour is ridiculous. Not to sound Marxist or anything, but this exploitation of labor creates a rewards-based mentality that is so detrimental to society.

Let me loop this back into tipping. I worked as a bartender while I was in high school in Japan. When foreigners would come in and try to tip their English-speaking bartender, I was obligated to return it. I was not allowed to accept tips because my boss (and many other societies who don’t tip) have an expectation that the service is going to be divine without incentives. It’s your job to give good service and to be polite.

Wax food models outside restaurants 

I grew up not being surprised by the food I ordered. I knew what it was going to look like, and the portion I was to receive, all thanks to the wax food models that line the entrance and exterior of all Japanese restaurants. In the U.S, not so much.

Pumpkin spice lattes

Guys. It’s coffee with a ton of sugar and a sprinkle of cinnamon on top.

The gap under bathroom doors

Call me weird, I don’t care. There is a whole 30 centimeters between the floor and the door in American restrooms. I’m sure it’s for some federal safety regulation to ensure people can crawl out in case they get trapped inside. But seriously. I can’t go in peace because I’m paranoid that people can see me, or worse: they could crawl into the stall as I’m going. Ugh.


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