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(The Atlantic)   Traveling to the U.S.? If invited to a dinner party, bring a gift of wine, but not cash or toiletries   (theatlantic.com) divider line 25
    More: Interesting, United States, Lonely Planet, United States of America, gifts, plastic cup  
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8244 clicks; posted to Main » on 04 Jun 2012 at 1:17 AM (2 years ago)   |  Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



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2012-06-04 05:50:51 AM  
3 votes:

profplump: ShannonKW: Yet we turn all Miss Manners over digits on a pay stub.

Well, many employers threaten to terminate you for discussing your pay. Even though such a termination (or retaliation of any kind) would be strictly illegal, even if you signed an employment contract permitting it. But it's still not illegal for an employer to claim that they'll fire you, even though they know that they can't, and many people are stupid enough to believe whatever garbage their employer feeds them, so many people feel legitimately afraid to discuss their compensation.


.
.
You're going to be in for a shock when you enter the workforce one day. There aren't any laws out there protecting you from doing things like talking. I can fire you for no reason at all. In fact that is the best way of doing it.
2012-06-04 06:50:49 AM  
2 votes:

Pert: The only reason for this is to piss people off.


And to make the cost of taxes visible to citizens.

I agree 100% that it makes transactions more complicated, and that such complication are a hassle. But one of the goals of applied-at-transaction sales tax is to ensure that consumers know how much of their transaction the state is collecting.

And you can see the exact opposite in credit card transactions; merchants are not permitted to add transaction fees to purchases, specifically because consumers might choose to pay with cash if they could see the real costs of their credit card transactions.
2012-06-04 05:25:32 AM  
2 votes:

ShannonKW: Yet we turn all Miss Manners over digits on a pay stub.


Well, many employers threaten to terminate you for discussing your pay. Even though such a termination (or retaliation of any kind) would be strictly illegal, even if you signed an employment contract permitting it. But it's still not illegal for an employer to claim that they'll fire you, even though they know that they can't, and many people are stupid enough to believe whatever garbage their employer feeds them, so many people feel legitimately afraid to discuss their compensation.
2012-06-04 02:53:26 AM  
2 votes:
The advice I've given most to my students abroad is that it's very rude to ask an American what his religion is or (much worse) how much money he makes.

Saudis find this really puzzling, because from their point of view Americans have very little apparent sense of privacy and will loudly reveal intimate details of their personal lives in the middle of a coffee shop. Yet we turn all Miss Manners over digits on a pay stub.

Forming and respecting a queue is part of American culture that is trained into us from age 5. We never think about it, but some other cultures don't have that, and these people need to be warned. Americans will murder you for cutting in line.
2012-06-04 03:55:03 PM  
1 votes:
Advice to traveling Americans:

- Don't mock other countries seemingly-fake money (out loud)
- I realize you're relaxing on vacation, but at least dress nice in the evening
- Driving on the left is surprisingly easy, so don't freak out. Filling up gas ... not always easy
- Forget the idea of a space-bubble and just smile when you don't know what to do
--- Take it easy on the big toothy grins, it makes non-Americans apprehensive
- Try any and all food dishes, but order small portions in case it doesn't sit well with you
- Have fun! I've never met anyone that doesn't wanna chat with an American.
2012-06-04 03:08:14 PM  
1 votes:
Everyone saying "but stores would have to change their tags if the tax rate changed, boo hoo". Youve never worked retail, you dont know how farking often stores change their price tags anyway, its maddening and contributed to me quitting my last job.
2012-06-04 10:38:00 AM  
1 votes:

My Bologna Has A Maiden Name: As a resident of an American community with a seasonal influx of foreign visitors, I contribute the following:

1. As stated in the article, personal space is an absolute must. In front, behind, and to the sides. No less than arm's length. Preferably more. This cannot be overstated.

2. Deodorant. Use it. If I can tell you're not from around here just by the smell, then we have a problem. I'm not stereotyping or trying to be inflammatory. At least in my town, this is a common issue.

3. Keep your hands to yourself. Don't touch me, don't touch my stuff. See #1. Arm's length minimum at all times.


#3 is soooo important. Any guidebook to the US or Canada should contain a chapter devoted to it. Get your hand off my shoulder, my back, whatever. When walking down the street with someone you don't need to actually rub shoulders with them. I've had to explixitly explain these points to coworkers that were new to the country.
2012-06-04 09:59:15 AM  
1 votes:

EngineerAU: I'll admit that like many Americans, I get annoyed by those who are not on-time though that is partially because I do lots of event planning which gets mucked up when many people are late.


Having spent a very long time in Germany and several years in Japan, I've learned that in the U.S., if you're on time, you're first and you'll be alone for a while.
2012-06-04 09:57:16 AM  
1 votes:

ShannonKW: Americans like to talk about ideas. An American casual conversation is mostly a discussion of ideas with anecdotes to illustrate it. If you have no ideas, you have nothing to say to Americans, unless you want to talk about sex.


Men talk about ideas. Children talk about things. Women talk about other people.

< ducks >

Americans put their private lives on display by trying to get overheard in public. An American arranging a party by on the phone will talk extra loud so that everyone in earshot may admire his popularity hear his situation.

Seriously, people talk about -anything- at high volume just to be overheard. I find it hysterical (for odd values of the word, "hysterical") that hospitals spend millions of dollars training, practicing and enforcing good HIPAA privacy behaviors... while nearly every patient gets in the shuttle/cab/car, sits down, whips out their phone and tells anyone who will answer all about their obstructed colon / diarrhea / cancer / whatever. As loudly as they can.

And yet, Americans are almost unfailingly polite. No one will ever say, "Jesus Farking Christ, lady! No one wants to hear about your vaginal discharge! Hang up the phone, hand the clerk your credit card to finish the transaction and get the fark out of my way!" No, we'll just politely wait in line behind you, and, at worst, glower angrily while reading, again, the tabloid headlines.
2012-06-04 09:00:53 AM  
1 votes:

sycraft: Debeo Summa Credo: Not allowed? Then why does the gas station near my house charge a dime more for credit card purchases per gallon than cash?

Because nobody has bothered to report them. Let their payment processor know, they'll lose the ability to take credit cards (they'll find another processor I'm sure). It is part of the merchant agreement. You have to agree that cash and card are the same price. I've never seen a processor that doesn't do that, as I think Visa and Mastercard make them do it.

Most merchants don't care. While cards do cost more up front (usually in the realm of 30 cents per transaction plus 3% of the total) it equals more sales, larger sales, and less fraud so it is worth it. Cash is problematic since people don't like to carry lots so they will choose to buy less from you because they lack the money. Check, in addition to being slow, are rife for abuse since there's no way to check on funds. With a CC, you know the bank will make good on the funds if they approve it, if the consumer has trouble paying them back is not your problem. So the stores make more, despite the fee.

Personally, I probably would turn that store in. I don't mind places that do things like "Purchased under $5 carry a 50 cent fee for credit cards," since they are just trying to cover the transaction cost and that kind of thing might be ok anyhow. But 10 cents a gallon? They are ripping people off, their fees are nowhere near that high unless they are stupid. So I'd let their payment processor know.


I wouldn't bother. There seems to be a legal loophole. All the gas stations where I live (Northeast) display dual pricing.
I think the wording of the agreement says that they cannot charge a fee for accepting credit. The gas stations state that they don't charge a fee for credit - they give a discount for cash.
2012-06-04 08:02:32 AM  
1 votes:

ShannonKW: Debeo Summa Credo: What the hell do they do in cultures where line forming is not respected? Is it just a free for all? How does that work?

The short answer is that it doesn't work. Any situation in which a large number of people must be served individually by a small number of people turns ugly. There will be much pleading special privilege, buttonholing the supervisor, back stairs hookups for those with connections, and staff are either pushed to the brink of rage or jaded and beyond it all. This happens every time, every day, in airports and bus stations, and it never improves because the people just accept it. It's part of the culture.

If you're one of those people who honestly believes that nothing could make you want to take a human life, buy a train ticket in Lahore or Karachi and come talk to me.


Wow. I've learned something today I guess. Any place where getting to a train clerk or bank teller (as in Lydia's example above) is similar to getting a drink at a mobbed bar is not anyplace I want to be.

USA! USA!
2012-06-04 07:24:25 AM  
1 votes:

profplump: Pert: The only reason for this is to piss people off.

And to make the cost of taxes visible to citizens.

I agree 100% that it makes transactions more complicated, and that such complication are a hassle. But one of the goals of applied-at-transaction sales tax is to ensure that consumers know how much of their transaction the state is collecting.

And you can see the exact opposite in credit card transactions; merchants are not permitted to add transaction fees to purchases, specifically because consumers might choose to pay with cash if they could see the real costs of their credit card transactions.


Not allowed? Then why does the gas station near my house charge a dime more for credit card purchases per gallon than cash?
2012-06-04 07:09:54 AM  
1 votes:
While some of the ideas in the article were a bit laughable, it was actually kind of nice to see a guide book recommend that the traveler change to adhere to local customs rather than expect all of America to change so that the traveler isn't offended, as is usually the case.
2012-06-04 07:09:52 AM  
1 votes:

Pert: profplump: I agree 100% that it makes transactions more complicated, and that such complication are a hassle. But one of the goals of applied-at-transaction sales tax is to ensure that consumers know how much of their transaction the state is collecting.

When I go shopping in the UK the price on the shelf is the price I pay at the till. My till receipt gives me an item-by-item tax inclusive price. At the bottom of the receipt is a breakdown of how much tax I have paid at each relevant tax level, e.g. 0%, 5% or 20% depending on what I have bought, and the total tax I have paid on the purchase.

Leaving aside that I don't know anybody who ever looks at how much tax is being charged, what's wrong with that? It works in most other countries that I've visited (and there are quite a few of them).


What if the tax rate changes? Then the merchant would have to go through and change all of the shelf prices. I know that local communities around me tend to pass local option sales taxes for things like new public buildings, public services, etc. It's a lot easier to be able to change the percentage rate at check-out than it would be to change hundreds (or thousands) of shelf stickers.
2012-06-04 07:04:54 AM  
1 votes:
I once took a linguistics course called Discourse Analysis. At one point the professor was explaining how in North America, people will say "we should get together sometime" and it doesn't really mean anything unless you get into specifics, like "Let's go see a movie on Friday". Whereas Europeans might think you actually mean "let's get together sometime".

It blew my mind. And it made me realize that I probably miss out on a LOT of social cues like that and why don't they give a manual out to the socially awkward natives?
2012-06-04 06:42:46 AM  
1 votes:
At the risk of opening a can of worms.......

The price you see on the shelf/product is not the price you will be asked to pay at the till. If you see a bag of chips labelled $1, do not take them and hand a dollar to the store clerk and walk out. The store clerk will tell you how much they really are. They are probably more like $1.20. It lends an air of mystery to what would otherwise be a straightforward and dull transaction.

The only reason for this is to piss people off.
2012-06-04 06:03:51 AM  
1 votes:

david_gaithersburg: You're going to be in for a shock when you enter the workforce one day. There aren't any laws out there protecting you from doing things like talking. I can fire you for no reason at all. In fact that is the best way of doing it.


The National Labor Relations Board would disagree. They specifically protect the right of "two or more employees addressing their employer about improving their pay". Their guidance and previous court precedent goes on specially list discussing pay as a protected act for both union and non-union employees.

/ Glad to see you're buying the BS your employer is selling
2012-06-04 04:24:11 AM  
1 votes:
I'll admit that like many Americans, I get annoyed by those who are not on-time though that is partially because I do lots of event planning which gets mucked up when many people are late. It's kind of funny that we're like that though because we are so spread out and have a transportation system that doesn't provide for consistent travel time regardless of mode.

Raw_fishFood: But yeah, I have to say it did really open my eyes to how different things were even in another English speaking country.


It's also funny the random words that they'll want explained. Met a couple of guys from Ireland when I was in Tanzania who wanted to know what 'doozy' meant. Of course there are tons of words specific to other English speaking cultures that I need explained to me which probably seems just as random to them.

ShannonKW: Yet we turn all Miss Manners over digits on a pay stub.


Think this comes from our corporate employment system. It is in the company's best interest for those making below aveage wages* for a job to not know what everyone else is making. Only those who are good at negotiating and have a really good deal that would go away if everyone knew about it are the winners in this system. My Chinese coworkers tell me it is quite common back home for someone you just met to ask you about your income.

* CSB: A coworker complained all the time that she made less than everyone else. When I asked how she knew that, she said she just knew, she could feel it. She complaned about it all the time until about a year ago when she was put in charge of a reporting database that gave her access to everyone's salary data. Not a peep since then, not even privately outside of work.
2012-06-04 04:14:47 AM  
1 votes:
As a resident of an American community with a seasonal influx of foreign visitors, I contribute the following:

1. As stated in the article, personal space is an absolute must. In front, behind, and to the sides. No less than arm's length. Preferably more. This cannot be overstated.

2. Deodorant. Use it. If I can tell you're not from around here just by the smell, then we have a problem. I'm not stereotyping or trying to be inflammatory. At least in my town, this is a common issue.

3. Keep your hands to yourself. Don't touch me, don't touch my stuff. See #1. Arm's length minimum at all times.
2012-06-04 02:49:34 AM  
1 votes:

Raw_fishFood: Cyno01:

[s3.amazonaws.com image 640x481]
[s3.amazonaws.com image 640x523]
The Oatmeal.

I can say that quite a few of them were really surprised that I had not only shot guns, but owned my own rifle. And I have never been asked to say so many different words in my life.

But yeah, I have to say it did really open my eyes to how different things were even in another English speaking country.


agreed. australia and england both thought it was downright amazing that i not only claimed to be a good shot but owned my own shotgun like i was some sort of cowboy or something. the reality is that it sits in the corner virtually unused.

/also, everyone in australia thought i was Irish from my accent despite being from NY.
2012-06-04 02:31:14 AM  
1 votes:

Cyno01:

[s3.amazonaws.com image 640x481]
[s3.amazonaws.com image 640x523]
The Oatmeal.


I can say that quite a few of them were really surprised that I had not only shot guns, but owned my own rifle. And I have never been asked to say so many different words in my life.

But yeah, I have to say it did really open my eyes to how different things were even in another English speaking country.
2012-06-04 02:13:54 AM  
1 votes:
I have no complaints about anything there. Seem to have hit all the main points.

I guess my two questions are:

1. In what countries is it normal to give toiletries as gifts when visiting someone's home? I know in Japan they hand them out at the train stations (to promote a product) since public restrooms don't have toilet paper.

2. In what countries are "inner cities" a place one should be walking around at night? Every major city I've been to has rough areas to avoid, particularly if you're obviously not a local. Even Japan.
2012-06-04 02:04:04 AM  
1 votes:
The part about Americans liking their personal space is right on the money. I cannot stand it when someone stands too close to me. It feels very rude.

"Rough Guide suggests keeping arms-length distance except in the most crowded urban circumstances."

That is exactly right.
2012-06-04 01:48:34 AM  
1 votes:
I'm socially inept enough to be interested in buying a travel book to the USA. I mean, seriously, I don't get it here and I was born in Houston and raised in Dallas.

/I'll move out of Texas once I nail down some decent residual income.
2012-06-04 01:48:00 AM  
1 votes:
Everything from the article sounds like good advice for travelers. It's amazing to me as an American how common gifts of cash are in Japan. I can easily imagine a Japanese trying to give cash in a circumstance where it would cause embarrassment in the United States.
 
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