This article is based on the AskReddit question “People who have visited the US, what is your ‘WTF America’ story?”
1. To pay for free parking.
I’m Canadian and I went down to the US to do a little shopping. I accidentally pulled out some Canadian bills and the cashier asked why I kept Monopoly money in my wallet.
2. No gun intended.
I asked an old lady if it’s true all Americans carry guns. She smiled and pulled a revolver out of her purse. She was a nice lady.
3. There IS such a thing as free?
When I went to the U.S. the first time and ordered a meal from a burger joint, ordering a large fry, coke, and a burger, I was blown away by the size of it all. Each item was larger than the same item back home, I was already like “wtf”, but then the cashier said I could have a second burger for $1! Again, I was like “wtf, sign me up!”
Another time, while I was in Daytona, I went to a restaurant and the woman kept refilling my drink, again and again. Being a bit shy, I did not tell her to stop, and expected a bill with $15 for sodas, but then I found out the refills were free, wtf!? FREE REFILLS?! I’d only seen that at places like Subway, but so many restaurants in the U.S. had free refills.
I love the U.S. for restaurants and food in general, the portions are massive and very reasonably priced.
4. They can never take our treedom.
I went to a chain restaurant, and was served by a nice young lady called Brittany who asked me with a serious face if we have trees in Scotland.
5. Asking the tough questions.
Well. I hadn’t even arrived yet in the US but in the plane as a foreigner you have to fill a paper to enter the country with various questions among which was: “Did you come to murder the President of the United States?”
6. The land down under.
Australian here – I went to Houston last year and spoke to a girl my age in the airport. We got chatting about Uni/College (it was around July) and she asked me if I was on my summer vacation. I casually explained I was on my winter break. She was genuinely confused and did not understand how it was summer in the US but Winter in Australia. I tried to explain but eventually gave up.
7. Tazed and confused.
Not mine, but my friend told me about his British boss getting pulled over for speeding. As is the tradition in England, he got out of the car to meet the police officer and it went about as well as you’d expect.
8. “You don’t think I’m a serial killer…”
French ex-exchange teenager in Cali here. Summer 97. I was young and missed the field-trip bus to Disneyland from San Diego. So I did something pretty stupid, I hitchhiked there by myself. Dude who took me looked like a plainclothes cops, but a good buddy. When he heard I was French he told me to never ever hitchike in USA because its pretty dangerous. Plus people could assume Im a serial killer. So I boasted “Look at you! you don’t think Im a serial killer. Im not that dangerous-looking or you are careless.” He told me to open the glovebox in front of me: There was a suppospedly loaded, desert eagle inside.
He dropped me at the bus station and insisted to give me 10 dollars for ticket (I had cash) and waited for me to get on the bus.
9. Jack of all trades.
When I first moved to America, one of the first things I saw after leaving JFK was a homeless man masturbating outside of Union Station. It wouldn’t have been that strange, except I had heard a lot of things about NYC from people who had been there (or knew someone who knew someone, etc) and I was worried what I was seeing was just going to be an everyday, everywhere thing all throughout the country.
10. Red flags.
I’m from America, and I have a friend from Australia. It amazes him that there are so many flags, everywhere. Apparently that is a distinct USA thing. He’ll make jokes about how we all forget where we are.
11. 7 deadly sins. And 7 deadly toppings.
I’m from Canada and went to a pizza place in Florida. Holy shit $5 for an all you can eat buffet which was basically a fast pass to witness a crap ton of gluttony that was on another level.
12. It’s probably just sunblock.
Went into a shop, they had spray on cheese.
I don’t think the majority of Americans here know how ridiculous that sounds to the rest of us.
13. They speak English in ‘What’?
Me paying at ‘gas’ station. Attendant hears I have an accent. Smiles at me.
“You speak English so well”
“Thanks! Although I should do. I’m from England”
Cue confused look. “Wait? They…” she trailed off “speak… English… there?”
Her colleague stared at her in open mouthed disbelief and then broke out laughing with the other customers. She looked mortified. To be fair I felt terrible for her. She was only trying to be friendly to a foreigner.
14. No, we have carrier pigeons.
“Do you have cellphones in Norway?”
This was in 2012. Kids nowadays get an iPhone and/or iPad before they’re born.
15. “Africa is a nation that suffers from incredible disease.” – President George W. Bush
After moving to the States from Africa, as a teen, I am repeatedly asked why I moved to Africa in the first place, to which I reply that I’ve always lived there.
I am also asked, “So why are you white?” To which I reply, “Oh my God, Karen, you can’t just ask people why they’re white!” However, when they reply with blank stares I realize they aren’t referencing Mean Girls…
Some other questions:
So Africa is one country and all the borderlines are, like, states?
Are there, you know, buildings?
You guys have memes over there, right?
Are you AUSTRALIAN???
16. You can wash anywhere you like.
Was in Spokane at Silverwood (amusement park) and asked where the washroom was. I was promptly told there were no washrooms in the park. This happened a good handful of times and it never even occurred to me that I had to say restroom to receive any real help.
17. Das Canada?
I was complimented on my excellent English by a girl from Ohio.
I’m Canadian. She thought we all spoke German.
18. From sea to shining C-
Was in Northern New York (near Buffalo) and a waitress overheard that I was headed “back to the Pacific Ocean”. She asked where I was going and I said Vancouver. “No honey… Vancouver is in Canada and that is on the Atlantic Ocean.”
I said “Canada is from sea to sea just like America.” She replied, “no that’s not right, only America is from sea to sea.”
The combination of her being absolutely sure about something and her total ignorance was surprising enough but the fact that she felt she should basically interrupt our conversation by telling me I am wrong about what ocean I live beside was weird.
19. The staremaster.
I’m from Canada and the first thing I saw upon my arrival to Port Angeles, Washington (which happened to be the first time I stepped foot in the states), was a large lady sitting in the middle of the sidewalk blocking my path to the bus terminal, just staring at me.
Another time, I was in San Diego one summer and a woman, genuinely curious, asked me if it was summer in Vancouver too.
20. Brought maple syrup to a gun fight.
I went to University at Cal State Fresno. When I was there the entire downtown of Fresno was boarded up and you did not go there after dark (actually anytime), and a full blown gun/gang fight outside of my apartment (in Clovis – a suburb near the University).
For a kid from small town Canada that was mind blowing.
21. Officer Jackson, Samuel L.
I was in Vegas with 3 Danish friends, and we were very hungover.
We decided to go for a drive in the convertible. After 15 minutes a police officer on a bike drives up next to us and just stares into the car.
This lasted like 5-10 seconds, so the driver turns his head and asks “anything wrong officer?”
The officer replied, in a super angry tone “Keep your motherf**kin’ eyes on the motherf**kin’ road!”
He continued to follow us for about a mile, just staring at us
22. Compensating for something?
I visited the US, never understood suburban young kids with huge trucks that clearly do not do any manual labor.
23. Somebody give her a dictionary.
Australian here. When I started chatting to a cashier she squealed and asked where I was from. I told her Australia and she instantly dumbed down how she spoke. “DO….Y’ALL….SPEAK….ENGLISH….DOWN….THERE?”
I replied “sporadically”. She laughed and informed me that wasn’t a word.
24. Coast to coast like butter on toast.
I was 12 years old when I spent a month in Minnesota. I remember going what the hell? (or at least a French equivalent) when we went to Mall of America and I saw a frigging roller coaster inside of it!
25. Where are you from? The 10th century?
“Do you know any vikings?” Asked by a nice young blonde with a straight and serious face in McDonalds. I’m from Denmark.
Asked a girl in a hookah lounge if she knew where New Zealand, my home country, was. She replied by asking “is that the country above us?”
27. Good job, America!
I went to Disneyland in Anaheim, and it just struck me that there were a large number of people with disabilities out and about enjoying the rides. It was just the sheer number of people with disabilities having a good time that made me extremely happy that the park was accessible to everyone. It’s not like that in other countries. ‘You done good America,’ I said to myself as I ate some horrible expensive fried thing.
28. These people exist.
I was 10 years old in the line for space mountain and the guy in front of me was preaching about how all America’s problems stem from “dirty minorities. Coming from a sheltered middle class British back ground this was the first time I’d encountered a proper full on racist.
It scared the hell out of me that this guy had so much hatred for something I didn’t think mattered, while we were at the happiest place on earth.
29. Five-star day.
First night in LA watched as a stolen cop car and a million cop cars flew past me down Hollywood Blvd at 60mph at 10pm, then I turned and walked back into the Thai restaurant where I watched the fugitive get pit maneuvered and shot live on the news via helicopter chase cam.
Dude sitting next to us was excited to tell us we had officially “experienced” LA. Over the top car chases, action chase cam news, neon lights in Hollywood, an Asian restaurant that made me feel like I was in an art film…. he was right.
30. It’s all Greek to me.
I was in an uber going to the airport and the driver asked where I was flying to. I said “Hong Kong”. He asked if I spoke Japanese. I told him that we speak Chinese in Hong Kong. He says “What’s the difference?” He genuinely didn’t know that Japanese and Chinese were different languages.
31. Just forget history for a second.
We were in a steakhouse somewhere in New Jersey. We told the waitress that we were from Korea, and she said, “Oh, that’s a city in Japan, right? I really want to go to Japan!”
Our Great-grandparents were forced out of their land and killed in Manchuria by the Japanese during their occupation of Korea. I had trouble calming my dad down.