I don’t know about you, but I live under a rock. I’ve never met any American people, nor have I watched TV or seen a movie set in the US. And as for actually crossing the Atlantic? Oh come on, I wish!*
Luckily The Massive Multinational Company That Cannot Be Named sent Eoin an email with eight handy tips to help us integrate into American society. It might be tricky, since we’re, you know, monkeys, but I think if we just stick to them rigidly we can’t go too far wrong. If you’re also a monkey, you might want to grab a pen and paper and take notes. These tips are invaluable.
- Be sensitive to where you can and cannot smoke. Many businesses, restaurants, and public areas are becoming smoke free.
WHAT? This is an outrage. I was led to believe that America was the land of opportunity, a place where I could be whatever I wanted to be. In my case, that’s a smoker. And now I’m told I have to observe rules. Pah! I’m going to start on patches with a view to moving on to cigars within the first six months.
- A short, informal thank you note is the most appropriate way to show your gratitude for an invitation to someone’s home. A gift of flowers or a bottle of wine when visiting will be appreciated, but not expected.
Who are you, my mother? If I go to someone’s home my presence is the present. They should actually be thanking ME.
- Americans will often open gifts immediately upon receipt.
That’s the trouble with Americans, you see, they have no patience. They just barge right in and do whatever they want. Whether it’s a country, or a present, they just have to have it immediately. I think that’s disgusting. Personally, I don’t open my Christmas presents until, oh say, July? I’m a Catholic. We’re very patient and we love denying ourselves at every opportunity. When I do get around to opening the presents I’m usually crippled with guilt afterwards. Could I not have waited a little bit longer? At least until we were married?
- You are not obliged to accept food or drinks offered at social gatherings – the host will not usually urge you to eat. You are expected to help yourself to however much you would like.
Hang on, let me get this straight, if I go to someone’s house I won’t be forced, with a virtual gun to my head, to eat or drink? Not even a sandwich, or a cup of tea? I think that’s beyond rude.
- People often exchange compliments, and often use this as a way to start conversations.
Well I’m not “people.” I wouldn’t have a clue how to compliment anyone, especially not an American. I can’t stand people who are all proud and up themselves. I’ll play no part in encouraging it, thank you very much. A little humility wouldn’t go astray over there.
- Americans often give and receive items using only one hand.
But what if it’s a big item, like a drum kit or a Hummer? How big is this one hand?
- Two gestures are commonly used to show approval. The “O.K.” sign is a circle made with the thumb and index finger, with the other 3 fingers facing upwards. The “thumbs up” sign is a fist with the thumb pointing upward.
Okay I’ve read this one 12 times so far and I think I’ve got it. To show approval I take my middle finger and stick it upwards. Got it! Yeah!
- People form lines pay for items in stores, buy theatre tickets, enter clubs and board public transportation. Even if the line is informal, or if no line is made, people rely on a “first come, first served” mindset. Do not jump or push ahead in line.
Lines? First come, first served? I’m sorry, my American friends, but time waits for no woman. When I want to buy theatre tickets (which is, of course, regularly) I barge. Simple-as. And I’ll do it in your country too.
Bet you can’t wait to have me, eh? See you on November 1st.
* I jest! I jest!