25 January 2007

Stereotypes about America

Since my arrival I am discovering some things about the United States that I, as a citizen of the country, did not even know. Here are a few I heard about just this past week...

Americans do not use public transportation.

Some people have expressed surprise the GLH and I not only use public transportation, but actually do not currently have a car. There is a belief that people in the US never use public transit. Tell that to the New Yorkers!

Americans will sue you for the slightest reason.

When we arranged for our apartment insurance, the salesperson impressed upon us the importance of getting Lawyer Insurance. She stated it was especially important if we travel back and forth to the United States with any frequency because it greatly increased our risk of being sued. I have lived in the United States for most of my life. I have never been sued nor have I ever sued anyone else. I can count on one hand the number of people I know who have ever been sued or sued someone else. And I have never before heard of lawyer insurance!

When traveling for business in the United States, men should not get on an elevator if the only other person on the elevator is a woman.

Apparently there is too great of a risk that he will be charged with sexual harassment or sexual discrimination. There seems to be some confusion about the differences between the two. Regardless, never be alone with a woman in the workplace.

Wow! I don't even know what to say to that one!

So what things have you heard?


Andreas said...

Hi GL,

Well, the one about risking a sexual harassment lawsuit by getting into an elevator when the only other people in there are women was related to me by a New Yorker. Another one is from a bus accident (in Chicago iirc), where after the fact, more people sued the bus company for causing whiplash, than actually fit on the bus. So, myth? Motive? Money!

The one about lawsuits in general stems from the humongous amounts awarded for what over here would be dismissed as frivolous lawsuits or fetch far less. I'm thinking along the line of suing McDonalds for scalding hot coffee (it says so on the cup, duh), being overweight aka fat slob(judge threw that one out, nobody forced you to order a supersize-me meal) or a guy suing a ladies-only spa for discrimination based on gender. Also class-action suits of the "Sue them all and let the judge sort it out" variety abound, brought on by just about any interest/advocacy group (ACT, NAACP, ACLU etc.). Or that rabbi threatening to sue the SeaTac airport for not having some menoras or other Hanuka-related stuff out in their Xmas displays.

Myth: America decides what goes over there is law for the ROW as well. "Only in America"?
America gets very PO'd when the ROW (rest of the world) disagrees with Scientology being a religion (as protected by the American Constitution, you say it's a religion, have pulled some scripture out of a hat (Mormonism anyone?), added some decorum, bingo, it's a religion) but a malevolent cult with world domination as longterm goal (don't laugh, it's in their "sacred" scriptures :o). So when Germany decided to have their Internal Affairs Intelligence Dept. keep tabs on them, bang, Congress threw a hissy fit and threatened sanctions.
America wants to boycott Cuba, well, whatever floats their boat. But then going as far as forbidding the ROW to do business with Cuba under sanction of not doing business in the US sure didn't make Canada happy. Still wonder where Arnie and Bill get those Havana cigars...

Myth: Americans are either grossly overweight or total health nuts following each and every craze. Think that's a stereotype! :op

Global Librarian said...

Good points.

I changed it to "stereotypes" in the title. I believe that these are a few people doing things that are highly publicized. The majority of Americans neither participate in it or condone it.

Expat Traveler said...

I think eating out at mcdonalds is a big thing!

I can say I'd never use pub transport in the bay area unless you wanted to take the 2 hr route around the city to get there while in a car it takes 20 mins! It's bassackwards in California at least! That is THE MAIN reason why I moved! And in Cali,pub transport isn't that safe.

Where we live here in Canada, I walk and use transport when I can and love it. We live 2 blocks from the city center, it's great!