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Every time I think that I’ve scraped the very bottom of the ‘Only in America’ barrel, I come across more delightfully US-centric things that leave me laughing or shaking my head.

I’d promise that this will be the last in my series of posts, which have so far included:

But we all know that would be an empty promise. Would you really want me to stop writing about the things I find a little strange about the US? Where’s the fun in that?


Of course, some of these experiences may overlap to the Great White North or maybe they’re normal in other countries. But in my tiny Australian existence, I’ve not noticed them before, so they belong on this list.

1.Buskers will haul out entire drum kits

I’m not talking about the homeless guy who fashions a makeshift drum kit out of a few buckets with duct tape covering one end. That’s ingenuity at its finest and that person deserves a few dollars for his/her attempt to make something, seemingly out of nothing.

Drum kit

This is only a suitable busking instrument in America.

On Saturday I was walking down Market Street when I came across not one, but two drummers who had brought out and set up their proper drum kits on a piece of carpet on the footpath. One of them was drumming to his own backing track (or is it a font track?). The other was just soloing his heart out.

I’ve not seen that level of busking dedication anywhere else in the world. It all seems a little too hard.

2. People who’s job it is to pack your groceries

We have these in Australia. They’re called cashiers. And as they swipe your groceries through the till, they place them inside a bag. I never thought that job could be broken up into two before I moved to the US.

Now I’m stuck in this dilemma of deciding whether to I should be packing my own bags if the bag packer is busy on another aisle, or if that’s taking a job away from some other over-zealous teenager. Am I being a scab? A crossing a non-existent picket line?

3. Entrees aren’t actually entrees

You sit down in a restaurant, open the menu and see Appetisers and Entrees on two facing pages. To me, they are pretty much the same thing, but it seems that the world’s dictionaries are conspiring against me.

Only in America entree

Only in America, would this meal be referred to as an ‘entree’.

In Australia and Britain, at least, an entree is a small dish served between the first and main course. But in the US, an entree IS the main course. Who decided that was a good idea? I was so confused when I first arrived and ordered something from the entree menu, only to get a whopping plate of food.

Get it together with the rest of the world, America. An entree is a tiny dish not a main meal!

4. Getting pulled up for ID when you’re clearly well over 21

Just out of curiosity, as you get older, does it get more embarrassing to get carded in America? Or is this an ‘Only in America’ moment that you gladly accept because it makes you feel a little younger?

I am well over the age that anyone would even fleetingly assume that I’m under 21, and trying to scam some alcohol. So why put the cashier through the indignity of asking for my ID? Unless they’re checking for a cry for help from my kidneys or liver?

5. The money all looks the exact same

Two and a half years in I still hate using cash. The bills all look exactly the same to me, even if some are a subtle shade of different. And the coins? Who came up with the idea that a 10c piece, should be smaller than a 5c piece? It’s worth more, so it should be bigger! Honestly.

American money in bills

And all of that dime and nickel malarkey can go to hell in a hand basket, because I still don’t know which is which. A quarter makes sense, it’s a quarter of a dollar. Everything else is superfluous.

6. The World Series

The baseball “world series” includes exactly one international team – the Vancouver Canadians, an affiliate of the Blue Jays.

Only in America baseball field

San Francisco’s AT&T Park. Have you watched a baseball game yet?

So why is it a “world” series? No other countries are participating. It’d be like Australians calling themselves world champions after winning the most medals in the Commonwealth Games. I mean, the only reason we’re still in the Commonwealth is so that we can win some world-stage sports, right? Right? OK, maybe not.

7. Flags, Flags Everywhere

I’m all for patriotism (well, actually, that’s not entirely true), but America takes it to a whole new level. Flags on clothes, shoes, socks, in your hair, on your front lawn and in the windows of your house.

American Flag Umbrella

Only in America… or mostly in America at the very least.

Basically, if it doesn’t move, you should put a flag on it. And even if it does move – like your dog or cat – there’s always space to show your allegiance to the flag in the US of A.

8. Talking to Strangers

I’m actually a little fond of this one, if I’m honest. I don’t really mind it when someone strikes up a conversation on public transport or at a museum. It’s friendly and nice for the most part. And I’m really good at doing old-people small talk sometimes.

But then there are the kind of off-kilter conversations you might have. It just so happens that I have an example from earlier this week. Standing in the check out line, the woman in front of me picks up a package of tuna salad and crackers, ideally placed to nab curious shoppers. She turns to me with an incredulous look on her face “Can you believe this? This is great! But why isn’t it refrigerated?”

Without pausing for my answer she launched into the above George Bush Snr conversation. I was gobsmacked, to say the least.