Quirks of…USA

It’s quirks time!!  We are talking about USA Quirks in this post.  We know, we know, this has been a long time coming.  The previous quirks post was about Thailand and before that was the Quirks of Bolivia. After Bolivia we visited Peru. However, with the exception of Llamas being everywhere, we came across pretty much the same things as Bolivia. This is not surprising because they used to be part of the same country – High Peru.

USA Quirks - Flags

Well this one could be long and controversial!  We all know that our much larger cousins across the pond have many, many quirks. From the way they pronounce certain words like Oregano or Aluminium, to using entirely different words for the same thing – such as sidewalk (pavement) or flashlight (torch).

Here our some of our favourite USA quirks:-

Aside from the fact that US currency could easily be mistaken for monopoly money, another quirk is that they have both a note (or bill) and coins with a value of $1.  Even quirkier is there are two different $1 coins which are different colours: silver and gold! Why…?


A man (or woman) wearing cowboy-like attire attempts to ride a crazed bull. Inevitably gets thrown off. Large potential for injury. Enough said!  By the way D loves a good Rodeo!

USA Quirks - Rodeo


This was one of C’s favourite quirks.  In the US the toilet stalls are seriously not private.  They have enormous gaps at the bottom of the door and more often than not, gaps down the sides – which means you can see out of them. Oh and the water level in the toilet bowl is super high….watch out for splash-back people!

Drink Measurements

Now, we like ourselves a drink or two. Ordinarily, we would walk up to the bar and ask for “a pint” of our favourite tipple.  Not in America! For some strange reason, the great US of A (and Canada) measures its drinks in ounces.  So, you need to decipher how much you are likely to get when you order a 14oz drink and whether you would rather have a 20oz!

USA Quirks - Beer

Coffee Cake

Now, if you ask a British person whether they would like some coffee cake, they would say something along the lines of “oh yes please, I love coffee flavoured cake”.  But in America they would have no idea what flavour the cake was, as the term ‘coffee cake’ refers to cake eaten with coffee.  How bizarre.

People from the USA think we are Australian

Apparently, and this is based solely on our experience, Americans cannot tell the difference between a British and Australian accent.  So many times we have been asked, “Are you from Australia?”. Even just yesterday, we met an American gentleman in a foodcourt in Chiang Mai and the question above was the first thing he said to us.  No, we’re not Australian!!


Everyone knows and jokes about the British obsession with drinking tea, so we found this particular quirk a bit worrisome.  Not many Americans drink tea and this may go some way to explaining this oddity.  Nobody seems to own an electric kettle?!  Coffee is made using a French press (cafetiere), filter machine or vintage coffee maker; not a kettle in sight!  Making coffee using a filter machine, with instant granules was interesting.

Red Lights

This is another one that we have also seen in several other countries and actually makes sense, but nonetheless is an oddity compared to the UK.  To us, a red traffic light means STOP – you cannot go under any circumstances.  However, in North America there is a rule that says if there is a gap in the traffic, you are allowed to turn right even if the light is red.  It keeps the traffic flowing in the same way as a roundabout (something that you very rarely get in the States -another oddity).

USA Quirks - Driving

Pin Numbers

When you think of technology, other than Japan, America is at the top of the list and at the forefront. So we were amazed that when paying for anything using our credit card, we never had to use a pin number. It’s not as though the machines are missing PIN pads, they’re just not used.  We either needed to; swipe and sign, just swipe, or sometimes just insert and the payment would be processed. Rather odd for a country so keen on its security. Don’t you think?

Licence Plates

This is an oddity that we love! Motor vehicle number plates (called licence plates) are different depending on which State the vehicle is registered.  This makes collecting them great fun. Even more so when there are different varieties within each state!

USA Quirks - Licence plates

Can you think of any more American quirks?  Americans – what do you consider to be quirks of the Brits?  Get in touch and let us know.  

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