The verb, not the adjective. Sephe over at Crazy Brits, did a recent post on how to annoy Brits, in England I think. It set me thinking about what annoys Brits (or at least me) over in the States. I originally thought about doing "How to Annoy Americans" but a) I don't annoy anyone, and b) Americans rarely admit to being annoyed (apart from New Yorkers), they just call everything "a learning experience".
So, without wishing to really piss anyone off, here are the things Americans do which I find a bit irritating:
- insisting on "bringing something" whenever they are invited round to dinner. I know this comes from generosity, but usually when I plan a meal, I make sure the courses complement each other, and I don't ask people over only to have them feed themselves. I have learned however, that saying "Just bring yourselves" will still result in a salad at the very least, so I usually suggest a little something, usually alcaholic.
- insisting on cleaning up at the end of the meal. Helping clear the table is one thing, but if my hubby and I look like we want to sit and relax after a meal, please don't disappear into my kitchen and leave me feeling guilty. I won't get up and help you, but I will feel like a bad hostess for a minute or two.
- and talking about clearing up, I have never met an American who does the dishes "properly". (Americans - I know this is a mutual intolerance). Americans need two sinks at the very least, but don't worry about a plug as they seem to wash and rinse everything in running water, usually getting it all over the floor into the bargain. Since very few kitchens in the US have built-in draining boards or a dish rack, a towel will then be placed on the counter top and dishes, pans etc. precariously piled there. This towel can be either a dish towel or a hand towel, they don't seem to have a preference, or indeed be able to tell the difference. Some Americans actually dry the dishes, but many then stack them (the right way up, so the water never drains out) somewhere vaguely where they should go. My hubby puts everything on the stove top whether it is a pan or not, because we've only lived here for four and a half years so it's all still all a mystery.
- putting your children above all else. Now I know as parents, this is what we are supposed to do. I also admit that sometimes in the UK, the "seen and not heard" thing can be taken a bit too far, but Americans, unless your child is bleeding from the head, please don't cut me off mid-sentence just because s/he has no manners. At least have the decency to tell the child to wait a second. This probably happens at least once a day. Perhaps I'm just too boring to hold someone's attention for more than a nano-second, but often I'm just answering a question or otherwise being helpful. However, as soon as the blessed off-spring is on the radar, the attention level dips, followed by "What sweetie?" as the parent drops to the child's eye level and engages in a loving discussion about where they will have lunch that day, or how long it's going to take to drive the half mile to Yoga Munchkins in the traffic. I have now taken to either saying "See you later" or just discontinuing the conversation, although neither reaction usually registers.
- not saying "Please". Most Americans are actually quite polite, but for some reason, the word "please" is absent from everyday conversation. I have done years of silent, unscientific surveys on this and any American who takes issue is encouraged to do the same. What happens is that the inflection sounds very polite, and in the south you can even hear long introductions such as "Would you go ahead and pass me the doo-hickey", but the actual word just isn't there. After 18 years here, my British spine still stiffens and my own children get a swift clip across the back of the head if they fail to meet the standard.
OK, that's enough (light-hearted) moaning. I don't want to hear from the one American who has a draining board either!