13 Traits of the American Convenience Culture

By: Dan

America loves convenience and is going the extra mile to accommodate that need in every day life. Here are 13 very convenient examples, that you may or may not like.

Drive Thru

Can it be any easier to get cash at an ATM, drop off some old fashioned paper checks or pick up a prescription at the Pharmacy after getting lunch at your favorite Fast Food restaurant? America really took drive thrus to the next level. At some grocery stores you can even pre-order online and then use their drive thru, where an associate is handing over your groceries.

Free Refills

One of the really cool services that you receive in most restaurants are free refills. In self serve restaurants you just refill your cup by yourself for as many times as your stomach can handle these sugary drinks. Waiters in restaurants usually top off your cup as soon as you take a sip or they just bring you a new one to make sure you never run dry. No extra charge!

Easy Returns

Americans like to spend money. Lots of it. And some people even spend all they have, living paycheck to paycheck throughout the year. Stores make it very easy to purchase things, because if you decide you don't like it after you've bought and used it, you can just return it within a certain time. Walmart, Target and other stores don't even require the original receipt. They will just give the money back to you in store credit. I know people who didn't bring warm clothing when traveling to colder regions and just went to Walmart and got dressed, only to return everything the very next day after they didn't need it anymore and were ready to drive home. Other people buy air mattresses for their visitors and when these visitors leave, they just bring it back to the store and say they don't like it. It's all possible in the USA.

Turn right at a red light

This is one of my favorites: Taking a right turn at a traffic light even though it's red. Of course you need to stop and make sure it's all clear before you go, but it still cuts down on the time you spend in traffic each day.

Microwavable Meals

The microwave is an American's best friend. Almost everything that you can buy in the grocery store, that needs to be heated up, comes with instructions for the microwave. Fast and convenient.

Endless ketchup

If you've been eating out abroad you've probably experienced how frugal restaurants are with ketchup. They charge extra for every single one of these ridiculously small pouches. That's all different in America. Here, restaurants see it as it is: It's just ketchup, and ketchup is cheap. That's why it's part of a restaurants good service to either provide you with a full bottle of their finest tomato sauce or give you access to a ketchup dispenser, where you can get as much as you please. Why upset a customer over ketchup?

Ice-making Refrigerators

Besides loving an air conditioned room, Americans also like to put lots of ice into their drinks. Everything has to be cool, at least here in the South. Doesn't matter if your drink gets watered down by the amount of ice, as long as it's cold and stays cold. At home people love their refridgerators with built-in ice maker. Some appliances even offer you the option of crushed ice.

Free Water

In most regions of the USA restaurants have to offer you free tap water, if you ask for it. Sometimes you even get ice with it or a slice of lemon. There are also multiple water fountains inside of buildings and outside. Some even provide a water fountain for dogs inches above ground for easy access. In bigger cities tap water can however taste pretty nasty due to the amount of chlorine that's in the city water.

Air Condition

Some people here in America always need a certain temperature at home, in their car and in stores. Usually that is 70 degrees, so it's not uncommon to see cars idling or A/C units humming in the middle of a nice Spring or Fall day. Perfect temperatures inside all year long.

Cars with remote engine control

I'm not a huge fan of this feature, but some cars can be started from the convenience of your home by just pressing a button on your keys. Great in both hot summer and cold winter days, to either cool down or warm up the interior of your car before you get in. Again, perfect temperatures at all times.

Automatic transmission

A friend of mine once said to me "Nowadays, technology is so advanced. So, why in the world should I manually switch gears in my car any longer?" Americans figured that out a long time ago, because it's just a lot more convenient and you can eat and drink or play on your phone a lot better without having to shift gears all the time. And the fact that a manual transmissions can be more fuel efficient doesn't really matter in the US. Gas is still super cheap.

Moving Places

I've noticed that people in America don't necessarily take their lighting fixtures or even some of the appliances like oven, washer and dryer with them, when they move to another place. They will probably just buy a house or apartment, that also has these things installed already. No need to spend the time and effort to strip the house from everything that you could use in your new place.

Fast Food

Welcome to the Fast Food Nation, where you can order every meal of the day at any given time from the convenience of your car. The US probably has the largest selection of fast food restaurant chains.

America really takes convenience to the next level and while a lot of things are just fantastic time savers, there are others that go a little overboard. By and large, I love it! :)

About the author

Expat Blog ListingDan is a German expat living in USA. Blog description: My USA blog will guide you through immigration and provide you with helpful tips and answers while you're getting adjusted to your new American life. Travelers will find lots of great tips for a stress free and enjoyable visit in America.
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Contest Comments » There are 10 comments

Clare Gosling wrote 10 years ago:

Could not agree more! The convenience in America does make for an easy life in some respects

VictoriaK wrote 10 years ago:

For better or for worse, you captured American culture well!

Sean Herrala wrote 10 years ago:

Free water is my favorite. That's a benefit everyone can (and should) take advantage of.

Tammy Tufty wrote 10 years ago:

Great article!!! Keep up the great work Dan! Keep up the informative articles!

Melanie wrote 10 years ago:

I really love the easy returns. Great list and I couldn't agree more.

Emmett wrote 10 years ago:

Its all together BRILLIANT ! SAD but true and INFORMATIVE. And yet it is so true, that it really spotlights how spoiled we as Americans are.

Nick Kropelin wrote 10 years ago:

Fantastic. Who in the world would return clothes to Walmart after using them?

Ned Kelley wrote 10 years ago:

Another awesome post. Love seeing America from a German perspective. Sometimes I run my air conditioning in my car with my widows down...just to get it perfect!

John Humphries wrote 10 years ago:

Convenience is the American Dream. Ice makers are my favorite. Great article.

Sutton wrote 10 years ago:

Great article. It's interesting to read about how convenient so many of those things are while I usually seem to take most of them for granted while in the U.S.!

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