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7 Pet Peeves About America

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This post is a companion to the article 7 Things That Are Awesome About America

When you spend a significant time away from your home country, you get a new appreciation for the good and the bad. Now that I’m back in the US and have traveled around the country for three months, I have a really different perspective on what the good and bad things are about my country. Here are a list of my pet peeves about the United States:

Id love to see more dining options like hawker stands and street vendors in the US

I'd love to see more dining options like hawker stands and street vendors in the US

1) Dollar Bills. We really need to get rid of the dollar bill and replace it with a dollar coin. The US dollar is probably the smallest denomination of any major country to have a paper note that small. The smallest paper bill in Japan is 1,000 yen (about $10) and they have 500 yen coins. Likewise, Canada, UK, Australia, New Zealand and the Euro Zone all have coins up to about $2. We’d do well to follow the lead of Canada on this one and kill off the dollar bill and adopt the $1 and $2 coin for everyday use. I realize we do have dollar coins, but until we kill off the dollar bill, there isn’t much incentive to use the dollar coin.

2) Pennies. These also need to die. Many Americans get hung up on the idea of rounding prices. It is done almost everywhere. You benefit from rounding just as much as you lose. As a general rule of thumb, if you can’t use it in a vending machine, it shouldn’t be in circulation. The government loses money on the production of every penny. Literally, it is worth less than the metal they put in it. Only the government could take a valuable commodity and make it worth less than it is worth in the ground.

3) TV News. Fox News, CNN, MSNBC, all of them are brain dead. They are so desperate to fill time they end up focusing on the murder trial of the moment, celebrity news or anything else which doesn’t matter. For a few days take a look at what is the top story on the US version of CNN.com and the International version. Sometimes the difference is dramatic. I can’t stand watching the news now.

4) Month/Day/Year. This really doesn’t make sense if you think about it. The rest of the world uses Day/Month/Year as it goes in order from smallest unit to largest. I have no idea why we do it this way or how it started, but it is change people should consider phasing in.

Driving around Australia gave me an intuitive grasp of the metric system

Driving around Australia gave me an intuitive grasp of the metric system

5) Non Metric Measurements. Here is something strange. I have done almost all of my SCUBA diving outside of the United States. When I dive now, everything I’m used to is in metric. I know that 40m is pretty deep and 30C is pretty warm water. I did a dive in Grand Cayman and everything was in Imperial units. I was totally confused. I’ve also totally adapted to metric mentally for temperatures between about 10-40C, but not below that. Likewise, I’m pretty use to driving in kilometers now having driving about 10,000km in Australia. I no longer have to mentally convert these units because I have an intuitive grasp of what they mean. I think the key to adopting the metric system in the US will be to keep sneaking it in like they did with 2 liter bottles of soda.

6) Police, TSA Workers, and Immigration Officials. I got a ticket in New Zealand for speeding. The officer was downright apologetic about it. I accidentally had a Leatherman in my camera bag when I borded a flight from Perth to Adelaide and the security officer just notified me of it and suggested that I put it on a checked bag. They didn’t confiscate it or try to toss their weight around. Cops and security officials in the US seem to have an enormous chip on their shoulder and seem more concerned about people obeying them than they are about protecting the public. The new effort on the part of the Federal Government to promote tourism to the US means nothing if the first encounter people have at the airport is hostile and one where they are assumed to be guilty. Several members of the International Olympic Committee stated this as a reason why they did not vote for Chicago for the Olympics.

7) Stupid Regulations. I’d walk around cities like Seoul or Bangkok and wonder why there isn’t more street food in the US. Even cities like New York which do have street vendors have to pay insane sums of money to have a street cart. In LA the city is going ape shit about taco stands and bacon dogs. There aren’t people dropping dead from food poisoning from illegal taco stands. The food safety is on a par with a backyard BBQ. Given the economic climate in the US, I think we’d have a explosion of food options become available if we just let people set up tacos, hot dogs and hamburgers stands. Street food adds to the culture of a city.

  • 80 Comments... What's your take?

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Comments

  1. Ed says:

    The non-metric system seriously needs to go. Its just stupid. You are not living in the stone age anymore.

    If a mountain is 4.3 miles high, how high is it in feet? Or better yet, in inches? The lack of easy convertibility from one unit to another makes the system absolutely useless. That’s why nobody in the scientific community uses it.

    The Fahrenheit stuff is even worse. What’s 0F or 100F? Do those temperatures correlate to something significant in nature? 0 Celsius is the freezing point of water, 100C is the boiling point of water. 0 Kelvin is the absolute zero. What’s 0F? The stabilizing point of a mixture of water, ammonium chloride and salt? Why on earth would any sane person use that as an offset point?

  2. Bec says:

    While I enjoyed using the $1 and $2 coins in the Aus and NZ (why is the $2 coin in Oz DIME SIZED??!?!??!) I found myself spending them faster then I would if I still had paper bills.

    But nearly everything else I agree on. The Europeans travelling to Oz via LAX had nothing but horrible things to say about my airport (I do agree with them, but I am just used to it all).

    And of course, day/month/year. I write the whole date out, just in case there is any confusion, esp. working in an intl environment within the US.

    I do not agree on the news though. NZ and Oz had some god-aweful local broadcasts that had me yearning for abc/nbc/cbs nightly news back home! Sky/BBC is another story though. We need more Beeb news in the US.

  3. Did you know you can’t have more than one pet peeve? You can have many peeves, but only one pet peeve. It’s like saying, my absolute favorite color is red, green, blue, black, white, orange, and purple.

  4. I respectfully disagree about losing the $1 bills. That’s one of the things I love about the USA! I hate carrying around pesky heavy coins in Canada, the UK and Europe. They’re heavy and easy to lose…

  5. Matt says:

    Regarding security officials, I had a security person in the airport in melbourne not like my laser pointer, so she remove the batteries and kept them. Then she found every other loose battery and took them too, just in case they fit in the laser pointer. I lost about 30 dollars of batteries.

  6. I think things changed for immigration after 9/11. When I first landed in USA at JFK airport in January 2001 I don’t remember facing and hostile behavior or discrimination. But after 9/11 every time I have entered the US I was randomly selected for detailed screening of my luggage and waited for hours and hours at the immigration for background check and what not.

  7. Victoria says:

    We get Fox News via satellite un the UK. My husband watches for entertainment!

  8. You’ve really hit the nail on the head for some of these – like 6 and 7. We’re almost afraid to ask our police for help because they intimate us so much for a lousy speeding ticket. And if the FDA keeps regulating what we eat, nothing will be considered safe to consume.

  9. Jorrit says:

    As a regular visitor to the US, a country that I love, I’d add customs officials to your list of police and others. I’ve never been to a country where the customs officials are so intimidating or aggressive. I know that they have a job to do but their manner doesn’t actually enter into whether they are making the right decision or not. Why can’t they just be more pleasant in doing what they do?

  10. Justin says:

    I think you’ll find Americans that take offense at this are list few and far between. Most, including myself, would agree with all seven.

  11. “On a lighter note, at least American drug dealers use the metric system, right?”

    hehe.. ofc they (drug dealers) use grams and kilos. and its not because “they have to deal” with people from “metric countries” or other “metric people”, but rather because the metric system is easyer to get correct.. even for us wasted moorons. :)

  12. Ashley says:

    I’m a born-and-raised American and agree with everything… except the $1 coins! Lol

  13. Angela says:

    4) Month/Day/Year
    I agree! I’m used to day/month/year, and if a date is before the 13th of the month, it’s impossible to tell which way it has been written!

  14. Sarah says:

    In reply to Mad’s comment: Can’t some North Americans take minor criticisms of things about their own country? A criticism of the metric system is somebody’s (legitimate) opinion, you don’t have to agree, but it doesn’t mean that that person is criticizing the States as a whole. In Australia we joke easily about ourselves, and are the first to laugh about some of the messed up ways we do things. I know a few North Americans living in Australia who are the same way. We are proud of our identity, but we are also humble enough to take criticism and poke fun at ourselves.

  15. Sarah says:

    Lol, I love this post. You don’t often get North Americans criticising (aspects of) the States. Yup, your M/D/Y system needs to go, and your dollar note is pretty ridiculous. I haven’t been to the States so I don’t have a pet peeve (from an outsiders perspective) but the tendency many North Americans have to speak loudly is my biggest pet peeve about many of the North Americans that I chat with my country. You guys speak loudly (not all of you, though) ;)

  16. Katie says:

    Oh, man, I would love to get rid of pennies at least. But China’s got small-denomination bills. They’ve got bills for 1, 2 and 5 jiao, which is kind of like pennies – 10 jiao to 1 yuan. Lots of places charge 6.5 yuan for something, but the big grocery store with the computers seems to be the only place that charges 146.3 yuan or another weird number of jiao. This is the case in small-town China, anyway. I know they have coins for jiao as well, but all the stores in my town deal in the bills.

  17. Having lived in the States for a while now (I’m from the UK), I still can’t get used to Fahrenheit. It just makes no sense at all!!

    And #3 is totally spot on: the tv news here is uniformly abysmal. It doesn’t matter which station you watch, they’re all dreadful.

  18. Jason says:

    As an American who’s lived abroad for the past three years….

    Yes, yes, yes, yes, emphatic yes, definite yes, and yes!

  19. Abbie says:

    Totally agree, especially with TV news and stupid regulations… I would also like to add overbearing parents (which can be found in other cultures I do realize). While I don’t necessarily think that children should be allowed to run wild in the streets, a bit more freedom and a bit less restrictions might do them some good.

  20. Anthony says:

    #1 Why not use coins? For one, they’re incredibly clumsy to hold. Paper notes store and organize very easily.

    #2 As what was mentioned in a post before, fractions of the dollar (the penny) add up. Getting rid of the penny would limit pricing to whole dollar amounts, and I’d rather that didn’t happen.

    #3 Spot on

    #4 Fair point, but I don’t really care either way

    #5 I’d rather use both types of measurements. Why, you ask? I would rather not have to describe something about a foot in length as approximately 1/3 of a metre. Also, hearing an announcer say 1st and 9.14400 metres during a football game would agitate me (sarcasm).

    #6 This point depends upon the official in question.

    #7 Read “The Jungle” by Upton Sinclair.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Jungle
    It wasn’t the point Mr. Sinclair was trying to get across, but it is a powerful side story none-the-less.

    • Gary says:

      How would eliminating pennies lead to whole dollar amounts when we still would have sub dollar coins? (nickel, dime, quarter) The countries which have eliminated the 1 cent coin just round up totals. It all evens out. You don’t lose anything because half the time you round up and half the time you round down. It does all add up, but it adds up to zero.

      What does the 19th Century meat packing industry have to do with food carts?

  21. Todd Eddy says:

    Well you did go to japan. They’re 1yen coins are hillarious. really thin piece of tin or something that you could litterally bite into and see teeth marks (not recommended though). I was in japan for 2 week and getting used to change did take a few days since it goes all the way to 500 yen. But you get this feeling that you have change in your pocket and need to use it instead of just letting it collect in a cookie jar. Even back in the U.S. I use coins when I can… and usually get odd looks from cashiers that I’m not using a debit card to pay for some $6.23 meal.

    I’m all for the metric system. For being the global power we are we should deal with units that everyone can use. Several fields like science and health have allready standardized on it. Imagine getting 2 cc of medicine vs 2 oz (it’s a big difference). I guess congress has tried to introduce it several times and it gets shot down. It’s just one of those things I never see changing because it would be “complicated” for people *sigh*

  22. Wendy says:

    I so agree with you on every single point. I’ve immigrated to the States about 7 years ago and those were among my pet peeves as well. I moved to Canada in the meantime, the news especially is my biggest pet peeve here. If an old lady gets robbed in the suburbs it’s sad for sure, but is it really more important than the countless wars and international problems? The news here seem to consist of 40min local news, 5min national news, 5 min sport, 5min weather, 4min celebrity news and a quick 30s slideshow of international news, but only if there’s more than 50 dead or a natural disaster.

  23. T-roy says:

    1) I live in Ecuador and they use the US Dollar as their official currency (been here for 6 months). When I first got here it was hard carrying around all that change 24/7 and finally had to buy a change purse (a first for me). I liked the fact that they use the $1 coin here more then the bill but then they also use the $0.50 cent piece to. So by the end of the day I have $8 dollars in change in my pocket… and I won’t lie it gets old but is something you must have on you at all times because you have to pay in exact change.

    I tried to tell my girlfriend (who is Ecuadorian) that American’s don’t carry change 24/7 with them. It goes in two places, a) in a jar at home where you save it up or b) in a spot in the car (think ash tray or something). I’ll carry around a few quarters but nothing more then a dollars worth of coins. It’s American to pay with $20’s for everything (which is something you don’t do in a lot of countries around the world. They want exact change or the smallest bills as possible, as it’s hard for them to break something large), McDonald’s, at the gas station for a coke exc exc and no American wants to get back $4 dollars in coins when they do… were just not set up for it.

    As far as Japan using nothing smaller then a $10, I could see that because they only have 50 vending machines on every street corner. In fact it’s the largest vending machine country in the world and coins are used 24/7 because so. But America isn’t about the vending machine cultural like Japan is. Americans want you to walk into a store and by a coke, so that they can sell you a bag of chips, candy bar or smokes as impulse items. Both are just different cultures and make them unique in their own way.

    2) I’d like to see the $1 coin used more in the US but I wouldn’t want to lose the penny. I did a report in college about the loss of money that would happen if we nixed the penny. I hate using them in the US and throw mine in a jar and its’ even worse carrying them in Ecuador but call me stingy and greedy but I want it down to the “penny” on all transactions. With international banking, credit-cards exc exc, transactions over the course of a week in the US adds up to big money. Yeah it’s easy to say if you rounded up and down it would all even out but that’s not a true statement either because even with the dollar falling it’s still the most widely used currency in the world. If that theory held any weight, then why not just get rid of all the coins and keep it bills only… after all it would average back out, right? Besides we all know it cost more to make a penny then what it’s worth but that’s not figuring in how long that penny last over a 20 year period. Even if that penny was only spent 2x per week, multiply that times 2x52x20 and it does come back out ahead.

    3) Totally agree and think it’s one of America’s biggest down fall. News used to be neutral and informative but it’s seriously went the wrong way in the last 20 years in the US and is politically backed now, which defeats the whole purpose of it. I’m really sad by this in many ways.

    4) I agree to this somewhat (used to be military and they use DD/MM/YY as a standard) but the whole world doesn’t use this system either. I’ve seen it every way you can think of and it’s just something you got to live with.

    5) 100% agree with this big time… let’s update it and keep it simple. After using the metric system it’s 10x better then the standard system and is more simple. The US is a last in this issue and believe it would simplify things so much for us. Again though using the standard teaches us more about fractions but I don’t see Germans or Chinese having problems with fractions because they use the metric system… so how not move on with it America?

    6) Who doesn’t want nicer people in the world when they have the authority to tell you what to do? This is totally opinionated and would be saying something like “who’s the nicest people in the world? It’s all about where you stand from. Me personally I agree with you Gary that they could be nicer but at the same time I think US airports are very efficient about getting people through the screening process vs. other countries I have been to which takes forever. I’d rather you not smile at me and get me through the process in 10min vs. being friendly and it taking 30min.

    7) Again this is cultural and people in Asia are more used to eating in the streets then Americans are. I really don’t want to eat street food all the time in America because it’s just not the way we do things. Lunch breaks from work aren’t about going outside and grabbing a stick of BBQ pork, as I want to sit dow and enjoy a meal with others instead. It’s great when in Asia, traveling as a backpacker and being a tourists but America isn’t about that. After all we’re a fast food nation and that sums it up. You find a few places in Europe selling food on the streets but for the most part you will only find street stalls in Asia, Latin America and Africa because they are poorer countries and this is a means to make a living. Americans don’t want to set up a cart selling hot dogs (even if allowed) because they want to set up a restaurant instead and it’s economically feasible to, where as in Asia a common local can’t afford that.

    You make good points and agree with some but it’s just an opinion and their is nothing wrong with that. For all the ones getting mad… gosh try to add something intelligent back to the conversation other then “Move to Europe if you don’t love America!” That’s one thing I wish Americans would be better at then anything, being more open minded

    For me, my wish list would be:

    1) More high speed trains (this would take a lot of work and it’s un-American not to drive everywhere I know)! I’d love to be able to go from St. Louis to Chicago on a train that only took a few hours vs. having to drive or fly there. But I can’t really complain as the US has some of the best roads in the world and love that (esp after traveling to other countries that say “highway” but would be comparable to a county road in the US).

    2) Unlocking phones!!! This would be my biggest as the phone companies have a strangle hold on so many things. Why must I pay for a call when someone calls or texts me?? I didn’t ask for this and it would be like getting charged to pick up a letter when you didn’t request for the letter to be sent. And don’t get my started about phone solicitors calling me at random… I could kill those guys when they call my cell phone. Asia, Africa and Latin America seem to have this down, why can’t we?

    3) Opening the borders more for people who are legit about traveling. I heard it a thousand times from people who wanted to go to the US but could never get a visa no matter how much they had. I know personally it makes me made that I can’t go somewhere to travel just because of a piece of paper (visa) and think it’s sad that others can’t enjoy my country because of the same. If someone has a round-trip ticket, X amount of money to travel on and no criminal background, then they should be able to. I know, I know people will just show up and not leave but they will get caught eventually and if they do this I have no problem with banning them for life. After all they knew the rules and chose to do comply vs. the others that wanted to follow the rules but were denied because of nothing they ever did. Just think it’s not fair.

    • Gary says:

      Any transaction would be rounded to the nearest 5 cents if we eliminated the penny. On average, everything would even out. At worst, you are talking about 2 or 3 cents per transaction you’d lose.

      There is nothing special about 1/100 of a dollar. Gas stations always price gas in 1/1000 of a dollar, yet we do not have a 1/10 penny coin.

  24. Greg says:

    I think one of the reasons we do MM/DD/YYYY instead of DD/MM/YYYY for dates is that we say “December 14th, 2009″ instead of, e.g. “le 14 decembre 2009.” So we’re just mirroring what it is in speech. But yeah, a standard way would be nice, wouldn’t it?

  25. bietz says:

    love it or leave it!

    oh you did.

    la food trucks rule.

  26. This post gets my blessing! :)
    I’ll add American pre-paid mobile networks to my top issues. So unbelievably expensive, anyone not on a contract has to either be rich or have no friends.

  27. James Clark says:

    Stop making sense, as the song goes. You are spot on with all of those points.

    In Australia we have made many of those changes in my lifetime. We used to have 1c and 2c coins and they have since been removed.

    The metric system is the most sensible way to go but I pity the president that tries to introduce it. I’m sure FOX news would mount a smear campaign against this French measurement system.

  28. Dan says:

    I think you’ve picked out some pretty good things other than the usual stuff people pick at about america. Being from Australia I understand the logic of dollar coins, they last longer than notes and save the gov money, that is the only reason for them really, I also hate carrying around change, notes and wallets work, coins and wallets don’t.

    And street food, man I wish the world had more street vendors, markets and less supermarkets.

  29. I enjoyed your list, although I’ve also been to foreign countries were officials/cops/guards seemed to enjoy messing with me, not because I’d done anything wrong, but just because they could.

    I wish we would switch to the metric system. Even after growing up in this country, I always find it a relief to switch to metrics when I travel. Yet we insist on sticking to this outmoded, confusing system of random units that only made sense back when accurate measurements weren’t possible.

  30. Jack says:

    The dollar bill I can’t understand why you would want to get rid of it. I live between Ireland and the UK, same amount of time in each per year, and I’ve always hated having coins for 2 euro/pounds. When you have a couple of them in your pocket, it begins to get very heavy. I want euro notes over here, I think it’ll make things much easier. Also, you can’t get rid of the penny, it seems strange that there’s a certain amount of money you can’t ever pay.
    I do really agree with the arrangement of the date and the imperial system. Both are my two biggest pet peeves about America. The imperial system especially. I want to move over to America some time, but being an architect, it’s quite a change to go from using the metric system to using the imperial

  31. Mich says:

    Geez, somebody had a cranky day.

  32. laura says:

    Guilty until you prove innocent.Obey.Shut up.Don’t show emotion or you will be labled unstable.If you arent wealthy and look it,well,you’re definetly guilty of something.I am sick to my stomach the way american citizens are being treated by our own government.

  33. @thecommich says:

    AMEN brother. Especially about the non-metric systems and Non-news TV stations. For being “the leader of the free world” America has certainly made a hash out of adopting better methods of measuring things. What is simpler than moving a decimal point around and multiplying something by ten?? As for the talking heads on network “news” – you can literally get more information looking at Google ad side-bar about what is going on today. Americans who don’t or can’t travel definitely suffer from this dearth of news and insight, and their resultant voting habits make all of us suffer. No wonder a woman who says she can see Russia from her backyard in ALASKA actually had a shot of running for VP.

  34. Barry says:

    To the people saying “well then, leave America!” Get a brain. He’s not saying America is bad. Why shouldn’t we try to change things and make it better? “it’s good enough, so just leave it alone?” The nice thing about America is freedom…that means freedom to also change things. I agree on metrics…I use metric for most things in the computer world, and it is more precise. Moving to metric doesn’t mean you’ll be “unmerican”. The writer just gave a few things he would like to see changed, he never said they were big things.

    I do like having the dollar bill, simply because I hate carrying change around. But heck, I don’t even carry cash anymore. I carry singles when I need it for parking fees, otherwise I use my debit card for everything.

  35. Scott Jones says:

    I agree with everything except the dollar bills. I *hate* carrying around change, and having a few small bills is all I ever need. Most of my spending goes on a debit or credit card, which makes it easy to track and provides some assurances unafforded by cash. Oh, and I don’t have to prepare in advance for a particular expenditure, which I find incredibly annoying (how did people do it before ATMs and credit cards?!!)

  36. Rock says:

    6 out of 7 is not bad… Number 4, changing the date format is wrong. Any analyst can tell you it should be YYYY-MM-DD… Much easier to sort that way. (I would not mind seeing the nickel and dime become extinct as well.)

  37. You know, I couldn’t agree with you more…on all counts! Having been a lived abroad I have a whole new apprecaition for life in the US. We sadly seem to be the embodiment of taking what once was a good idea and taking it to its absurd extreme. Sometimes I wonder why people in other countries want to be like us! I don’t hate this country, I just think we are like a teenager by comparison, we think we know it all and our way is the best way, not taking into consideration that those who have gone before us likely tried and failed at it which is why they don’t do it. Am I wrong?

  38. john says:

    The Guy was just stating what he doesn’t like about America and would like to see a change in…Funny how you became so fucking hostile….
    To Gary, Mad and URAwimp.

  39. Mad says:

    Move to Europe if you have so many problems. You should appreciate all of the great things America has to offer, not crying about pennies and dollar bills. The dollar bill is almost a cultural icon of America, you’re lame for wanting to get rid of it. America is unique for many of the things you mentioned, i.e. not having the metric system, these things help us stand out. If your so called “pet peeves” about America bug you so much and you feel so much better about yourself posting them all on the web i honestly think you should move to Europe or Australia where you can feel more at home and in a safe environment with no pennies to scare you. America has offered you a different kind of luxurious life that you obviously take for granted and cannot appreciate. So stop whining. And your sad that the TSA people are not nicer? Please, if you have nothing to hide why do you care so much if they want yo to “obey” the rules. Bon Voyage.

    • Gary says:

      I didn’t realize that the core of American values were coins, dollar bills, cable news and street food. Here I thought it was stuff like liberty and freedom.

      If YOU have nothing to hide, why don’t you use your real name?

      Oh irony!

    • Jason says:

      And to add a number 8 to your list:

      over zealous nationalists like the guy above….

  40. stefan says:

    the street vendor idea is a well thought one. I got back from singapore a little while ago and the street food was THE food to eat. I could see it working in many cities here in the US if the policies and politicians werent cruel fucking jokes.

  41. URAwimp says:

    STFU…get back on your dinghy and live out in the sea if u don’t like it here. Quit your whining and drink your $5.00 coffee like the rest of us. USA! USA! USA!!

  42. Drew says:

    I agree with James, the coin currency in Japan is a bit much. When making small, everyday purchases, pockets fill up very quickly with coins. Also, just a fun fact, not all of the world uses the Day/Month/Year; in fact, Japan uses the opposite Year/Month/Day. Personally, I prefer the European style to either the American or Japanese format. Traveling abroad, I landed back at O’Hare in Chicago and immediately noticed everyone (generalization, yeah) was depressed, bickering, and rude.

  43. Erica says:

    It is all interesting and thought provoking, but I must say as petty and frustrating as it is, because of recent history, I’m okay with TSA agents acting as you described.

    • Gary says:

      I’m not sure that being a bully makes anyone safer. This is a case of people who otherwise would have no authority in any area of their life making up for it by being rude and abusive to others. It is security theater, not security.

  44. MartyL says:

    As a yank, I’ve got to give you credit…these are so true. You can get decent news if you look — try NPR and PBS. Fox doesn’t count as news, it is really just propaganda. I look forward to your ‘thumbs up’ category.

  45. I love this! Although I did save a R$1 dollar and R$.01 penny that I just so happened to find in Brazil as a souvenir before they completely disappear. I would love for the US to go metric it would make so much sense. Lastly, the Month/Date/Year vs Date/Month/Year really through me off when I was teaching since I used it daily and once I finally got the hang of it I moved back to the states.

  46. James says:

    Have to disagree with the dollar bill. A few years ago, I went to Japan which is a cash country. Since 100 yen and 500 yen coins are the norm for change, I ended up with an incredible lump of change that was downright inconvenient to carry around and count out, not to mention heavy.

    • Gary says:

      Paper currency and vending machines just don’t work.

      If Japan had a 500 Yen note it wouldn’t be as bad there. Inflation has made the dollar worth less and it isn’t going to get better. The sooner we can move to a dollar coin (and $2 coin), we’d save billions in efficiencies in the economy as well as in printing costs.

      • James says:

        True enough. I suppose if I wasn’t a visitor, but a resident I’d have more options to go cashless. Almost every convenience store will take an RFID-based prepaid card called ‘Suica’ as well as all trains (and vending machines!).

        Dollar bills are wasteful no doubt, dollar change would just be inconvenient to carry around.

  47. i agree with everything but the metric system. i lived in the UK for 2 years and never was able to get it down. Maybe cuz i am 40 or my brain just doesn’t work that way due to Chronic Lyme Disease affecting my brain and cognitive abilities. Diving i can get meters but that’s about it for me with the metric system!

    GREAT post and awesome observations! Thanks!

    Warmest Regards,
    EP

  48. jackventures says:

    Gary,
    I totally agree that one’s perspectives about the U.S. changes after living or traveling abroad. The level of consumerism (albeit almost universal) is unfortunately tied to our GDP, and Americans work hard but have little happiness to show for it.
    On a lighter note, at least American drug dealers use the metric system, right? :-)

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About Gary Arndt

My name is Gary Arndt. In March 2007 I set out to travel around the world...
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