10 Things Britons Do That Drive Americans Crazy

I’ve already shared the things that wind Britons up about Americans.

Eight years in the UK has given me a great appreciation for the British.  It has revealed that they don’t actually all speak like Hugh Grant and shockingly, that they don’t all live in manor houses.  It’s also given me plenty of insight into the culture and what they think about Americans.  But my time here hasn’t gone without annoyances.  Here are my 10 things that Britons do that drive Americans crazy.

1. Calling American football players wimps – They wear helmets that are more suitable for high-speed motorbike races than a pitch, they might not have cauliflower ear and they didn’t lose a tooth on that last play, but I wouldn’t call them wimps to their faces when they’re puking in that helmet because they’re on their third practice of the day in 100F weather….unless you’re a rugby player and your neck is bigger than their abdomen, then call them whatever you want.

2Mocking who we voted for – Okay, so a former president once said “misunderestimated” and another boinked his intern, but casting a direct vote for your President (kind of – this is not the time or place to Electorally educate)  is kind of like getting married.  You are attracted to specific things, but tell him off for not cleaning up after the national deficit he spilt on the floor.  But if you go after our guy, taking a swipe at him is like taking a swing at our spouse.  We’re allowed to, but you’re not.  Don’t misunderestimate us.  We’ll swing back.

3. Assuming we are all cowboys and surfers – Howdy partner, like we are totally not all from an old western or Hollywood teen flick dude, so please stop talking to us like that in that weird American-ish accent.

4. Your lack of ice – Four cubes in a pint glass does not constitute a cold drink.  It can only be cold when A) all of your ice doesn’t melt before your drink gets to the table and B) the ice to soda ratio is 60:40.  Why do you think American restaurants offer free refills?  You’ve only reached one whole British pint of Coke when you’ve drunk three inAmerica.

 5. The geography thing – So you saw that YouTube video where Americans thought Australia was Iraq.  Ahem…that was unfortunate.  I know, let’s grab your neighbourhood idiot and ask him to point to the Sudan….uncomfortable, isn’t it?

6. The passport thing – You’ve  heard 80% of Americans don’t have their passports.   Only in the last 10 years have Americans had to have passports to visit Mexico, the Caribbean islands and those exotic Canadian shores.  Even then leaving the good old US of A ain’t cheap.  When you hop on your £60 return trip to visit countries that have different languages and lifestyles, remember that Americans pay around £400 and have to fly across a whole entire ocean.  Now, when can I start planning my Australian Middle East trip?

7. Laughing at our names – Who says Pilot Inspektor isn’t the perfect name for a newborn?  That Danger isn’t a hilarious middle name to give your child?  Except that they grow up and work as an accountant and actually have to say, “Hi, My name is Pilot.”  But you must get bored of Andys and Emmas?  Oh and by the way, that time at the hospital, when I had that appointment to make sure my kidneys were functioning properly and you laughed down the phone to the receptionist because I’m called Brittney – I could hear you.

8. Your customer service – Yes, Billy the sales assistant from American Eagle did tell me about his heinous haemorrhoid operation when I simply asked him to switch out my size 10 jeans for a size 8, but in between the gory details, Billy was there and brought me everything I needed with a smile on his face. Flinging your finger in the air in a three story shop to point me in the direction of the vest tops is not customer service.  You may as well be pointing with your middle finger.

9. Assuming Friends is a guidebook to America – But England is just like Downton Abbey, right?  RIGHT!?

10. Manners don’t make you nice – Would I like a drink?  Sure! ….Wait…what?  Have I said something wrong?  I haven’t said, “Yes, please”?   I’m sorry.  That was rude.  It’s not that we don’t appreciate our drinks (even though there are only 4 ice cubes), we just sometimes substitute social niceties with warmth.  A smile,  a jovial pat on the arm, a compliment, making eye contact, acknowledging your existence – It’s the simple things.  But really, we’ll try harder.  Please.  Thank you.  Sorry.


20 thoughts on “10 Things Britons Do That Drive Americans Crazy

  1. reneedezvous

    This is great! Your bit about ice is so true. I’m also used to people here assuming I’m from California because I don’t have a southern accent. (And if I ever mention Kentucky they always say something about chicken.)

    1. Kay

      I hear you! I am in Asia but still get the same thing, without fail… They even have a breading mix here called– yup, “Kentucky”.

  2. Gary Birch

    Ooh that’s a risky one to post! However, I have to agree on the customer service… We’re rubbish at that compared to US. And i know youre not a cowgirl or surfer. But I’d rather have a full drink than half a watered down drink, and our country leaders are fair game for mockery.
    Oh and by the way, my Mrs has been trying to contact you about Thursday!

    1. Living Life as an Expat Parent Post author

      Risky, indeed. Have had Brits RT, which I hope means they know I love them really.

      Half a glass of ice and I’m a-ok. I totally think politicians are free game for mockery here and SNL does do it, but I also think there is a defensiveness that you may not have. Or maybe that’s just when people from another country mock? Not sure.

  3. Jenny

    AMEN about the ice!! And it’s not just England, but all across Europe, too. Even if you ask for extra ice, they will not give it to you- on principle!

  4. Christy

    Lol… I would like freezers to HAVE ice trays. Also number 10… hilarious.. and so true about the warmth.. but I have actually been mocked on many an occasion by Brits for my “yes please”, “Thank you ma’am”, “Sir it was nice to meet you”.. so I am not always convinced about the manners thing here. Maybe more in the south!

  5. scribblefingers

    I understand many of these – but I can’t agree with the ice thing in England. It’s summer and at tops it gets to around 20 degrees… do I want so much ice in my drink? Not really… I actually often ask for no ice 😛 But when I’m in American I do appreciate the ice and free refills! And I think the assumption on the whole Western thing is similar to Americans thinking an English accent is to talk like the Queen – I’ve had that one popped on me a few times! I don’t mind it, I actually find it quite funny! But I can understand not enjoying it continuing. It’s a bit like when you meet Americans for the first time and the first thing they say is “Oh your accent is so cute! Talk more!” Ehem. 🙂

  6. Rosie

    We’ll stop comparing your football players to our rugby plays when you stop comparing our soccer players to your football players – deal?

      1. Rosie

        Yes! The only times I’ve ever said anything snarky about American football vs rugby have been in response to Americans saying things along the lines of “your football players roll around on the floor like little girls, whereas ours are real men”.

      2. Rosie

        (And yes, they do roll around on the floor like little girls, but much like your presidents we will not stand for them being mocked by anyone other than ourselves 😉 )

  7. finola

    As a Brit, I found this funny although you’re generalising a bit that this is what we all do! 😉 But yeah, why don’t we do free refills?! – I guess the amount of ice you get depends on the place. I often ask for a drink WITHOUT ice in the UK so that I actually get something to drink other than melted ice… (I worked in hosiptality a bit and it was policy to shove as much ice in as possible and as little drink as necessary… cheaper for the company… but free refills? no way).

    1. Living Life as an Expat Parent Post author

      Generalising? Nooooo 😉 Have to say I have worked with students and young people since being here and its probably more heavily weighted in that experience rather than with the general populace. Thanks for commenting!

  8. scribblefingers

    I recommend “Watching the English” by Kate Fox – it was written 8 years ago, but so much of it is still true! It’s really funny and you’ve probably been here long enough to nod along with what she’s saying – the Native too will probably sit and laugh and wince!

  9. max

    There are two things on here i can agree with, the customer service is (more often than not) awful here. The “manners” thing annoys me to, if i ask someone for something in a nice friendly tone and they stare at you a go “please?” i just want to punch them in the face.
    The other things either don’t bother me or I’ve never heard of, didn’t know 80% of americans don’t have passports :/, and it’s not that i think american football players are wimps, those guys are pretty huge, i just find it boring to watch because they stop every 5 minutes, same reason i find rugby boring. The ice thing i could see being annoying if you like ice, but without free refills here in the uk it’s just not worth your money to have almost half a cup of ice.
    Numbers 1, 2, 3, and 9 are also things that annoy british people about americans (substituting american football for ‘soccer’ <–i usually say football but i know americans refuse to call it that,lol jk, substitute president for prime minister and cowboys and surfers for lords and ladies or whatever the brit stereotype is)
    Anyway, interesting perspective 🙂


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