Sunday, April 3, 2011

3 big British and American differences (funny)

Okay, this is just for fun, so nobody get upset or anything, here are my 3 big British and American differences (funny):

1.  Us Brits love to moan.  If it is raining, we moan because it is too wet.  If the sun comes out, we moan because it is too hot.  In short, we carp about everything.  We don’t expect any solutions, we just like to whine on about how crap everything is.  Moan in the presence an American, however, and they will immediately attempt to find a solution to the perceived problem.  In the can-do, optimistic culture of the US, problems are there to be solved.  They really don’t grasp that in the UK, complaining for the sake of it is accepted as a subtle art form and the idea of all our troubles being solved actually slightly horrifies us.

2.  Customer service is highly developed in the US, but almost non-existent in the UK, where supermarket checkout assistants will usually only smile at Christmas time and adopt miserable expressions for the rest of the year.   Although it is great to have such a friendly and attentive service in the US, American customers do take advantage sometimes (at least by British standards) especially in restaurants where they sometimes request so many changes to the dish that’s being offered on the menu, you do wonder whether it’s worth having a menu at all?  I mean if you ask for a chicken dish without the chicken, or that the chef substitutes blue cheese for bacon, it does kind of make it into a completely different meal, doesn’t it?  If you did that in the UK, they’d probably tell you to eff off!

3.  Brits love to swear, or “cuss” as they call it in the US.  It is tough for a Brit to utter an entire paragraph without at least one f-word in it.  Women, children and older people will all participate, given half a chance.  Swearwords/cuss words are treated more seriously in the USA and censored from most TV programmes, this means that watching Gordon Ramsay in the US is just a series of bleeping sounds.  Sex is another thing that Americans are generally uptight about (though not so much down here in Florida where everyone walks around half naked).  As Brits, we are used to being castigated for our “sexual repression” by our more adventureful neighbours, the French and Dutch, but over here in the US, Brit culture seems relatively liberated.  Americans are much more tolerant of violence and guns however and you are free to watch people being shot to death on TV at any time of night or day.  Unless the gunman or victim happens to be making love or uttering an f-word at the time of the shooting, in which case the scene will be censored.


  1. So true on all accounts! My friends who come to visit are appalled (like really offended) by the "customer service". I always have to remind them that I think things like pubs on every corner make up for it :)

  2. This post made me laugh, thanks! I am calling by to thank you for your weekend visit to our little piece of Italy. It is good to meet you.

  3. Do I assume from this that the way to stay safe from violence and guns in the US is to spend your time making love and/or swearing?

    And just to keep you up to date we are having one of those days in Leeds when you don't know whether to go out with a jumper, a raincoat and galoshes or in just a t-shirt and sunglasses. Bloody English weather!!!

    But we do have football on the telly - that's real football - not the American version!!

  4. I must be around the wrong Brits then. I did a post about a month ago about how I miss complaining, that there's an art to it. The Brits I'm around (admittedly, a small sample, mostly my husband and his family) find everything to be "quite pleasant," "nice," or "gorgeous," despite how grim it actually might be.

    The customer service thing is so true though. I've been trying to get a straight answer about teaching qualifications from agencies for 8 months now, and only get conflicting responses, and agents who tell me to call the agency that just told me to call the one I've got on the phone.

    The sex/swearing/violence things are all true, and I've always been outspoken about the horrors about violence on US TV. One of our very worst traits, I'm afraid....

  5. @taramoyle - Well, the Brits generally moan about things in private, but then when they have chance to voice their opinion and change something, for example tell a waitress after a bad meal what was wrong, they say everything was "nice" rather than risk an argument, in my experience! ;-)

  6. Love it! This is hilarious and so true! But the customer service at the supermarkets is almost exactly the same in New York, Manhattan. People love to complain here too, but when they do it, they do it loud,and with as many expletives as they can think of, I mean why should they be the only ones to suffer, eh?! Fab blog :)

  7. @English woman - Being a Brit, I must admit I felt at home with the rudeness when I was in Manhattan. Down here it's much more polite which is nice, but not what I'm used to!

  8. Interesting post. As a Brit in France I find that the customer service in the UK is actually much better than in France. If you're talking about politeness in the supermarkets, then France wins hands down, but if you're talking about complaining or returning products, contacting services like France Telecom and EDF (Electricity company), then forget it. It seems their policy is the customer is always wrong! No one would dream of asking for something different to what is on the menu and if you want your steak "well done" they will look at you with horror.
    The French seem to like to have a moan too - it must be infuriating to be given solutions all the time when all you want to do is exchange niggles!
    As for swearing, I think the French (generally) are much freer with swearing even than in the UK and the British and American songs are not censored at all on the radio. It take's you by surprise the first time you hear "F***ing" on the radio and I find it's better to play CDs in the car when I have the little ones with me. :)

  9. Brit customer service isn't all bad and US customer service isn't all good, I exaggerated the difference to play up the humour, although the general thrust of what I said is true, I would say.

    American censorship is actually very patchy. There is no "9pm watershed" here like in the UK, so you can potentially hear an f word at any time of day on the tv, if you flick through the channels.

    I remember that Henry Miller's books, banned in the USA and UK until the 60s, were first published in France and due to a loophole in the obscenity laws were not banned in France, because they were in English and French censorship laws only applied to the French language!

  10. Absolutely hilarious! I've heard/read similar comparisons before :) So glad I stumbled upon your blog, now that I'm in the midst of a fascination with British society thanks to "Downton Abbey." :)

  11. This is hilarious and so true! But the customer service at the supermarkets is almost exactly the same in New York...

  12. I typically don't like the customer service here (California). It generally feels invasive. Sales people are forever stalking you and trying to help you decide what to buy where I would typically prefer to be left along and ask if I want to know something.

    Also in the UK you do not have to ask for prices eg. shopping for jewelry or similar items. In the US you have to ask which produces all kinds of awkward feelings and prospects of disclosing information that I would rather keep private.

    And after all the big smiles and over friendly demeanor of people in service industries like cashiers and staff at restaurants. I actually find someone behaving normally or even somewhat grumpy quite refreshing. It seems more honest and I appreciate that.

  13. Customer Service in the UK is way better as here in Florida too! If you read this article you get a real good insight on what it is like in the South of Florida! I really like living here but I have to say when I take a closer look at the people in the UK and in the South of Florida they are pretty similar!
    In the UK people are more distanced at the beginning but when you get to know them they become friends for life! In the South of Florida people seem to be very open at the beginning but most of this is very superficial but same story as in the UK if you get to know them you have friends for life too!
    I love what you wrote about the TV program :) I think it is funny though that for example the series Shameless is based on the original UK series Shameless and there is a lot of swearing etc :)
    Thanks for this great post!