Forums Writing Writing Labs Can anyone tell me if this sounds really insulting or just showing'personality'?

Can anyone tell me if this sounds really insulting or just showing'personality'?

5 Things to Remember While Eating in a Restaurant in America…

• Fries/Chips: Say ‘fries’ rather than ‘chips’ – you will be pretty let down if you’re served Pringles with your steak, or worse, poker chips. (Chips especially get confused in Las Vegas or Atlantic City where they measure things, add, subtract and basically tell the time in poker chips). I once asked a waitress for chips with my burger in a diner within the Sahara in Las Vegas and she replied ‘you have to go to the casino floor for that’…
• Ma’am or Mammy: Saying yes and no ‘ma’am’ is not a must but it’s so uncomfortable for an Irish person to say because mam is your mother and that’s it!! If you’re not American, don’t even attempt unless you must because it just sounds wrong, wrong, wrong.
• Cheese Please: Alright, I know I ordered the cheese burger, but which is the patty, the brown, steak-like one, or the thick, yellow, cheesy one spilling out the sides…? I love cheese and so does the American diners. Tommy Tiernan, an Irish comedian, one joked that the American flag should have a piece of cheese stuck on it it’s loved so much. After all, what would America’s classic dish, macaroni be without its best friend, the cheese?
• Supersize showdown: The small coke is actually the large and the large coke is too much coke!! Sugary drinks larger than 16 ounces are now banned thanks to Mayor Bloomberg of New York. However, the loophole ridden policy was largely criticized by customers for neglecting their freedom. Always get the small. It probably has free refills anyway.
• And the last ‘Tip’: Never forget to tip. It’s not mandatory but it’s expected in all sit-down restaurants. And don’t just tip nickels and dimes; no tip is better than small coins. The only time you should tip a one dollar note is if you take a quick ride in your time travelling machine back to the 1950’s, then it’s acceptable. Seriously though, if the food was enjoyable, leave an average of 15% of your bill for the tip. The full Tipping Etiquette can be viewed here:

View Profile 2013-12-17 04:19:15 PST

Hi Ruth,

I personally don’t think it’s insulting – it’s acutally quite funny! But maybe someone from the US should comments on this as well, because I’m looking at it from on outside perspective. When it comes to Germn stereotypes (and there are a lot!), I don’t get offended or feel insulted. I think it’s interesting and funny to read how other people perceive us. Same applies to your story, I would say.

View Profile 2013-12-18 04:45:38 PST

I agree w/ Sandra. No part of your text seemed rude or disrespectful to me (I’m Brazilian). But have in mind that the only important thing is how you feel about what you write.

View Profile 2013-12-18 05:41:01 PST

Hi Ruth.  None of this insulting, it is part of American culture.  In America there is a distinction between fries and chips.  North Americans refer to any elongated pieces of friend potatoes as fries.  Any potato that is thin and usually circular in shape is a chip.

Rarely do I hear anyone say yes or no ma’am anymore.  This is no longer the social norm in the U.S.  If it is said, it is usually said when it pops out of someones mouth.  If someone gets upset that you didn’t say yes ma’am or no ma’am then that person is living in the old school mindset refusing to move forward with society.  You can still show respect with kindness but a yes / no ma’am, don’t worry about it.

When it comes to the classic American cheeseburger, watch out.  The hamburger / cheeseburger is being morphed into many different styles and combinations.  Cheese on top, cheese in the middle.  There are many specialty burgers being concocted all the time.  The patty is the beef or beef like substance.  🙂  Sometimes cheese is cooked inside.  Don’t ask me why, but someone, somewhere thought of it.

Regarding Supersize showdown – Yes.  The small is a large and the large has become a swimming pool.  Dive in and drink your way out.  I don’t drink soft drinks anymore, maybe 2-4 times a year…if that.  It is diabetes in a cup.  Yuck!

The norm for tipping is 10% – 15%  I tip based on service.  Good to better service, I tip more.  Bad service, I tip less than 10%.  The waiters and waitresses make less than minimum wage and rely heavily on tips to live, pay bills, feed their families.

If you have any further questions or comments – I’ll be here.  🙂

View Profile 2013-12-18 07:57:18 PST

You are all so nice for commenting back! I’ll take all of this on board, very helpful. 🙂

View Profile 2013-12-19 04:05:00 PST


I really liked your examples — it’s fun to hear from another perspective about dining in the US.

I totally agree with Tony’s comments, but I do think that ma’am and sir are still used quite a bit in the southern US. It’s a respect thing, and most kids/teenagers are still taught to address adults as “sir” and “ma’am.”  However, as a tourist you should’t worry about using the terms.  “Mammy” is definitely NOT used — in fact, it was a term used to identify a female slave who acted as a nurse or nanny. Now it’s considered to be a slur.

I was a bit confused by “<span style=”background-color: #ffffff; color: #404040; font-family: Helvetica, Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14.44444465637207px; line-height: 23.33333396911621px;”>And don’t just tip nickels and dimes; no tip is better than small coins. The only time you should tip a one dollar note is if you take a quick ride in your time travelling machine back to the 1950’s, then it’s acceptable.”  </span>

I wasn’t sure what you meant by “no tip is better than small coins.”  If you leave small coins it’s generally considered to be an insult. Tipping is 15-20% of the total bill (definitely, 20% in larger cities.)

Another thing we Yanks can be particular about — especially with our hamburgers and cheeseburgers — is ketchup. We like it thick (like Heinz) and put it on many items, including eggs. I know when I’ve traveled abroad, I’ve had to adjust my expectations about ketchup (or “tomato sauce”.) So ketchup may be on the table or offered with every meal (although not generally in fine dining restaurants.)

Great idea for an article and good luck!



View Profile 2013-12-19 13:27:26 PST

So nice getting this feedback! Buy the way, I am obsessed with the U.S and particularly the food (I’m a foodie) so your pointers are very beneficial! Thanks again!
Ruth 🙂

View Profile 2013-12-20 05:05:25 PST

I have some clients from North Carolina and they do use ma’am quite a bit. But I only know it from them, so I can’t judge if it’s widely used, of course.

View Profile 2013-12-21 15:36:41 PST

I think it’s fun and could be even more tongue and cheek than it is. It’s not insulting, it’s amusing. You could even expand on the examples and write an entire article.

View Profile 2013-12-27 17:23:31 PST

In my experience “Sir” and “M’am” are more common in the southern states. Up north its only really used when you’re trying to get someone’s attention and you don’t know their name. You’ll hear, “Excuse me, Ma’am,” but almost never “Thank you, Ma’am.” It’s just “Thank you.”  And in the Northeast/New England you’d say “Excuse me, Miss” to a young woman rather than “Ma’am.” Sort of like the Mademoiselle/Madam distinction in French.

View Profile 2013-12-28 21:47:10 PST