Monday, May 31, 2010

When in America...

There are things we take for granted in any country. This includes what passes for manners. When we go somewhere else for an extended period of time our norms change. I had to remind myself of this as I recently returned to the U.S. for several weeks.

When in America:
  • Tip the waitstaff in restaurants - in the U.S., restaurant waitstaff earn low salaries, tips are an important part of their renumeration.
  • Do NOT loudly yell 'fuwuyuan' when you want the server's attention in a restaurant. It's considered rude. Catch their eye and wave. Say 'excuse me, miss/sir' if you need to use your voice.
  • Used toilet paper should go in the toilet and be flushed, not placed in the garbage. Plumbing pipes used in the U.S. are wider and do not (usually) clog when toilet paper is flushed. Used toilet paper in the trash can is considered unhygienic.
  • Americans have and use voice mail. If someone does not answer their phone we can leave a voice message with the information we wanted to deliver and they can then call us back at their convenience.
  • People of European descent are not called 'foreigners', 'laowai', 'waiguoren' or 'foreigner'. Usually they are called 'American' or 'local', unless they are a tourist.
  • Most people understand English, whatever the color of their passport or their skin. Be mindful of what you say when other people are within earshot.

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