"I Don't Know How People Put Up With It": 35 American Things That Seem Completely Bonkers To Non-Americans

I love hearing people from other countries and cultures give their opinions about American culture. After all, sometimes all it takes is an outsider's perspective to make you see your life and customs in a totally new light. Recently, u/421continueblazingit asked Redditors from outside of the US to share the things that Americans do that make no sense, and the responses were fascinating. Here's what they had to say:

1."Baby showers. Here in Sweden, it is generally considered bad luck to give baby gifts before the baby is actually born. When the baby is born and the parents have gotten a few weeks alone with their newborn, they usually start inviting people to meet them, but one or a few at a time, and then you bring a gift."

group of friends having a baby shower

2."Having to find somebody to cover shifts when you're off on leave or sick. Isn't that literally what the manager is there for?"


3."Home owners associations dictating the smallest details of your own home."


4."From what I understand, the US customer service culture seems bonkers. I feel like there's more pressure put on customer service workers to look bouncy and happy all the time, even if their working conditions suck otherwise. I feel like acting shitty to customer service workers is either more common or more accepted than in Europe as well? Some of the tales I've read about 'Karen customers' absolutely wouldn't fly in my country, assuming that even a fraction of them are true."

woman sporting the karen haircut

5."Cashiers who aren't allowed to sit during their work. Why??"


6."The toilet stall door gap."


7."Anything and everything related to belonging to and participating in a fraternity or sorority. ESPECIALLY the selection and hazing."

sorority recruitments a game you have to know how to play it

8."The startling difference between the attitudes toward sex and violence. Kids will see literally hundreds of violent deaths on TV and no one bats an eye, but god forbid they should see a nipple."


9."At 18, you can join the army, carry guns, fuck, and drive a car. But you have to be 21 to buy and drink alcohol???"


10."The tipping culture. Working a job and then having to depend on charity seems extremely weird. I don't understand how people put up with that, having employment but having to basically beg for money to survive."

person putting money in a tip jar

11."Doing your own taxes and being punished if you get it wrong by mistake."


12."Black Friday. You spend Thanksgiving saying how grateful you are for what you have, and then have a massive free-for-all over stuff you want."


13."Saying the pledge of allegiance thing at school. What in the actual fuck?"

little kids saying the pledge of allegiance at school

14."Gender reveal parties, I couldn't give a fuck what you're having and you shouldn't give fuck what I'm having. I hate that it's slowly becoming a thing in the UK."


15."People enthusiastically defending the health-care system that bankrupts people, sometimes even in Reddit threads where people show off their horrendous medical bills."


16."Sales tax not being already included in the price. Wild."

woman shopping in a supermarket

17."Playing the national anthem before EVERY sporting event? Just never understood it, maybe it's just because I'm Australian and we only ever play the national anthem before finals (or playoffs if you're American) games."


18."Asking 'How are you doing?' without wanting to know how anyone is doing."


19."Refusing to use the metric system."

person holding measuring tape that uses inches

20."How are bidets not commonplace?"


21."The excessive consumption of Starbucks beverages."


22."Putting flags everywhere. Are you all suffering from amnesia and are afraid that you will forget what your flag looks like?"

a whole bunch of American flags planted near each other waving in the wind

23."Fear of anything 'not capitalist' being somehow 'communist', e.g. universal healthcare. Yet at the same time being terrified of 'big pharma'. It literally works in hundreds of other non-communist countries."


24."Everyone is so unbelievably patriotic but also incredibly proud of their Irish or Italian roots."


25."A lot of the high school stuff, like all the formal dances, football, and cheerleading. They’re such a big deal in the USA."

that means you haven't known the triumphs and defeats the epic highs and lows of high school football

26."How owning, buying, and carrying guns is not more controlled and supervised."


27."People being mad if a wedding is booze-free or has only a vegetarian menu."


28."How high the water level in the toilets is. It's like half way to the top, makes no sense."


29."The whole 'building credit' thing. Not sure it's a custom or just plain stupid. The amount of money that I can borrow is a reflection of my income and what it is that I want to borrow money for. The idea that you can't get a mortgage because you didn't pay for groceries with a credit card 10 years ago is absurd."

man paying for something with a credit card

30."Why do politicians finish their speeches 'God bless America' and similar? It gives me shivers! Theocracy is not a good thing. Let's have separation between church and state and between religion and politics, shall we? I believe, in fact, that your country was actually built on the principle of that separation, was it not?"


31."No white at a wedding. It's baffling how American are obsessed with this rule."


32."Pickup trucks as daily use cars. Of course I know that at this point most pickups are just SUVs with a small open bed in the rear, but it still boggles my mind how many people believe they absolutely need a pickup."

pickup truck parked on the street

33."Putting quite a bit of sugar in things that don't require it, like bread and casseroles."


34."The level of monitoring expected around children is wild to me. Over here, six-year-olds walk to school alone. (Of course within reason.)"


35.And finally, "Putting ice in every drink no matter the temperature, season, or anything."

person holding a glass of ice water

Is there anything you would add? Tell us about it in the comments.