Things I Hate About America

When I was a kid, my family would travel to the United States every year or two. We would visit friends or family or just find some new and exciting place to settle down for a short vacation. I always enjoyed this trips to the U.S. but noted some peculiarities about American culture. This tends to surprise Americans, but things really are quite a bit different up here in the Great White North.

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In recent years I have had far more opportunities to travel to America. My parents moved to Atlanta about seven years ago and since then we have made the long drive at least once or twice a year. And since I began liveblogging, I have visited all kinds of American cities (with a whole lot more being on my itinerary this year). I have found there are some things about America that I strongly dislike (and a few that I really like). So here I present to you a look at Sixteen Things I Hate About America (And A Few Things I Love). It all starts at the border with the…

Border Guards. It seems that the American border guards simply assume that once I am in their country I will never want to leave. This seems to be a problem that plagues the southern border of the U.S. more than the northern one, but the attitude definitely presents itself even up here. Unlike their Canadian counterparts, American border guards seem to feel the need to wear guns just to keep people out! I don’t suppose it ever occurs to them that perhaps, just perhaps, I really do want to leave their country someday (and someday soon, in all likelihood). Other gun-toting grumps in the US include the…

Police. Canadian police exist to keep the peace. This means that they rarely make an appearance unless they are absolutely needed or if you are seriously breaking the law. There is a 20 kilometer an hour buffer. As long as you drive with 20 kilometers per hour of the posted speed limit, it’s almost like having diplomatic immunity. In America the police are out to get you. They lurk at the sides of highways and byways, just waiting to slap you with an outrageous speeding fine for driving 2 miles per hour over the limit. They have a particular affection for slapping out-of-country drivers with these tickets. Thankfully I’ve long-since learned to take it easy on American highways. And continuing on this subject, what’s with the…

Speed Limits? If you’re driving on a Canadian highway you can rest assured that the speed limit is 100 kilometers per hour. You can drive clear across Ontario and this speed limit will pretty well never change. And all Canadians know that on the highways there is a 20 kilometer per hour grace period whereby the police will never bother you until you exceed 120 kilometers per hour (and even then there are usually enough people doing 140 or 150 that the cops only worry about the really bad speeders). In America the speed limits are constantly changing and are strictly enforced. They change from state-to-state, city-to-city and situation-to-situation. They are always in flux and seem entirely unpredictable. Drivers need to be constantly on the lookout to monitor the changing limits lest they wind up with nasty fines. While we’re talking about miles, let’s talk about the…

American System of Measurements. I have three questions about this system. Who made it, what medication was he on, and where can I get some? I assume if I take a bit of this I’ll be able to finally figure out the logic behind the Imperial system. Continuing to use this completely nonsensical system may be about the greatest display of American obstinacy. It simply makes no sense whatsoever. And speaking of greatests, what is with the American obsession with…

Greatests, biggests and longests?. Everywhere you go in the United States you see signs advertising the biggest this or the longest that. I’m quite sure this is largely an American phenomenon. What I want to know is this: is there a governing body that examines claims to be the biggest and longest? Is there a Bureau of Biggest or Commissioner of Comparison that examines and verifies these claims? If I am going to spend my hard-earned money at Fulton County’s largest flea market, I want to have some sort of assurance that it really is the largest flea market! One thing I am sure of is that America does not have the world’s nicest…

Money. Why is American money all the same color (and I’ll grant that this is slowly beginning to change as a tiny bit of color has been introduced into more recent bills)? Color-coding is a good thing. With just a glance one can tell the difference between the bills, rather than having to examine the face of an ex-President. Another annoyance with American money is the fact that there is…

No Two Dollar Denomination. Two dollar bills are a good thing. Two dollar coins are an even better thing. Having twenty 1 dollar bills in my wallet is always a bad thing. Of course one of those 1 dollar bills is enough to purchase a can of…

Coke. It seems many people do not know this, but there is a difference between Canadian and American Coke. In the American recipe the Coke is sweetened with corn syrup while in Canada it is sweetened with sugar. The corn syrup leaves a strong and unpleasant aftertaste while the sugar simply burns off your taste buds so you couldn’t possibly know if there is an aftertaste. An informal poll I conducted shows that 66% of people prefer the taste of Canadian Coke. You probably would too if you were able to compare. Another bad aftertaste comes from…

Grits. I can’t believe grits are considered food fit for human consumption. It is with good reason that they are not available up here. I couldn’t have imagined anything could have a worse combination of bland taste and disgusting consistency than porridge, but grits came through! Of course of you like grits you probably also like…

Waffle House. My brother-in-law tells me that the Mason-Dixon line is going to be renamed the IHOP-Waffle House Line. It seems that the moment you cross into Kentucky Waffle Houses appear at every exit of the Interstate. Their bland, yellow signs that look like a throwback to the sixties ruin the scenery across the South. If I wanted to see something at every exit and every corner I would want to see a…

Tim Horton’s. Canada’s best donut chain dots the Canadian landscape (and Canadian military bases around the world), but America seems almost devoid of Timmy’s. Where do Americans go for a great cup of coffee and a good donut? It’s a shame, really, that they can’t go to Tim Horton’s. I have, however, noticed one or two of them in…

Ohio. It seems to me that the United States would be better off without Ohio. As I see it, it is a state that has no real function other than to increase the distance between Canada and Atlanta by a few hundred miles. So I propose that Ohio be eliminated. This would require moving the NFL Hall of Fame from Canton, but I am sure there are many states that would be happy to take it on. I think the phrase “being inducted into Albuquerque” has an even better ring than “being inducted into Canton.” I suppose eliminating a state would be considered bad manners. And speaking of bad manners, why do Americans always…

Leave Their Shoes On In The House. In the rest of the world it is considered impolite to leave your shoes on inside someone else’s house. Yet in America it is considered perfectly normal behavior. Go ahead and tramp through water, snow and mud and then walk into the house, cross the carpet and why not put your feet up on the coffee table? Americans like to put their feet up while they watch…

Sports. The American obsession with sports is unparalleled. Canadians find it both shocking and hilarious to see Americans obsess with amateur sports such as those at the high school and college level. In Canada a high school football team plays before a handful of the players’ moms. In college they play before a handful of girlfriends. And yet in America, high school teams play before the entire community and can attract tens of thousands of fans. High school football has more fans in the U.S. than professional football does in Canada. On an unrelated note, do you really need…

150 Foot-Tall Signs beside the highway? In Canada we have rules about how high signs can be and trust me, it is a good thing. Everywhere you go in the United States you find signs reaching hundreds of feet into the air. Five hundred thousand candlepower lights illuminate these signs, lighting up the countryside for miles around. Sometimes the extra light comes in handy, though, especially when using the…

Highway Entrance and Exit Lanes. Is there any particular reason these have to be so short? Rather than having a couple hundred meters to make your way over and prepare to exit, in America you have to wait until the precise moment to rip your car into a 45 degree turn to exit the highway. When entering the highway, you have all of two or three car lengths to merge with the traffic. I have just one more complaint and it has to do with the word…

Huh? Since when is this considered a polite way of responding to a question? In the same area of the world where children refer to their parents as “sir” and “ma’am” why is it acceptable to say “huh?” when you do not understand something? What happened to “pardon?” or “excuse me?” My sisters used to be so polite. Now that they are American they just keep blurting “Huh?” all the time. It appears to be chronic.

I do not want to give the impression that everything about America is bad. As a matter of fact, there are plenty of great things. Here are a few:

Border Guards. “Wait!” you say, “I thought you hated them.” Well I do, but at least they seem to care about who gets into America. The Canadian border guards seem like they couldn’t possibly care less who or what crosses the border. I suppose they just figure that not too many terrorists are beating down the doors to exit the U.S. in order to commit horrifying acts in Canada. One thing that hasn’t crossed the border is…

Chick-Fil-A. Now that is some good eating. The chicken sandwiches are delicious and I really dig those waffle fries. Mmm mmm good! In-N-Out Burger is another chain that I would love to see up here. Another thing that is good is…

Driving North to South. I love how the mileage signs count down the miles before you hit the next state. It’s a great way of keeping track of just how far until the next Chick-Fil-A. I don’t think you can find any Chick-Fil-A’s in…

Pennsylvania. After visiting this state many times in my youth I have developed something of an attachment to it. I guess I can say I consider it my favorite state to visit. Going there helps me understand…

American Patriotism. In Canada we are proud not to be American. In America people are proud to be part of what they truly believe is the greatest country in the world. There is something to be said for believing so strongly in your country. And as an apathetic Canadian, I can’t help but admire it. As Canadians we are mostly just glad not to be American and in fact, that is pretty well how we define ourselves. Americans love to be American. Canadians just love not being American. It’s a strange thing.

So there you have it. There are things about America I hate and things I love. Please don’t hate me for that! If an American would like to take on Canada in similar fashion, feel free and I’ll link to your effort (hint: Canada is the country immediately above your own).

Please note that this article is meant to be tongue-in-cheek. I really do love America. Or I like it, at any rate. Long-time readers may recognize this as being awfully similar to an article I posted several years ago. What can I say? I got to thinking about these things again…