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Question for Americans
Old 12-25-2007, 02:33 AM   #1
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Question for Americans

Hi my American friends;


Us Aussies are pretty well au fait with American culture because we are swamped with American TV shows and movies.

Nonetheless, every now and then I get a bit confused about American jargon. Can anyone explain a few things to me, please?

1. What is a drug store? I thought that they must be a pharmacy which sells prescription medicines but I have heard that such is not the case. Help?

In Australia, a pharmacist or "chemist shop" sells much more than just medicines these days, selling every thing from cosmetics to toilet paper and washing-up detergents as well as dispensing prescription medicines.

What is the American situation, please?

2. At a restaurant, what do you call the main course. Here we call it the main course but I think (?) that you call it the entree which is what we call the smaller portion component of the meal before the main course - which I think that you call an appetiser. All guidance gratefully received.

3. Does the tipping regime in the USA confuse you and annoy you? Tipping is not a usual practice in Australia although it is done infrequently. In my career, I used to fly interstate every single week of the year, staying in five star hotels, dining out every night and using taxis all the time. Many times, I have done that without a single cent in my pocket, relying on credit cards for all payments and paying no tips as is our custom. When I have spent a week in America on business a few years ago, it seemed to me that everyone carried around rolls of paper money. Is that usual? Is it so that there are always small notes for tips?

4. Not wearing my reading glasses, I mistakenly handed over a $100 note to a Cable Car conductor in San Francisco, thinking that I was handing over a $10 note. Does the fact that all USA notes are the same size and color confuse you? How do blind people cope? In Australia we have different sizes and denominations of our paper money (Which is actually plastic) and it works very well. RBA: Notes in Circulation


They probably seem like silly questions but I would love to understand you guys a bit better.


Best wishes ..............
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Old 12-25-2007, 05:56 AM   #2
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Here's some help:

A drug store in the US appears to be about the same as Australia's Chemist Shop. Most drug stores sell a little bit of everything but focus on cosmetics, toiletries, over-the-counter medicine (these don't require a doctor's prescription - like aspirin, antacids). They also sell some food items, small electronics, and film development (making prints of digital cameras also).

In US, main course is same as entree.

Tipping only annoys me when I get bad service and people still expect a good tip. I won't go into any tipping details (how much for which service). But yes when we travel we always make sure we have extra small bills for tipping.

I'm sure all bills being same size is confusing to some but having grown up in this system, don't notice it. No idea how blind, poor eyesight deal with it.
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Old 12-25-2007, 06:17 AM   #3
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The idea of tipping certainly is intriguing. I would not want to work for tips here. As I understand wages are much lower in the United States for retail and services workers. Not attacking it - thats your culture you do as you please. Just curious as to whether one would be better off as a tipped employee working in the United States. I suspect it would be higher pay.
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Old 12-25-2007, 08:06 AM   #4
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A drugstore sounds like your pharmacist shop. The biggest chains are probably Walgreens, CVS, and Rite Aid; by searching on their company website, you'll get an idea of what other things they sell. They sell all things medical-related with a pharmacy in the back (so you can be tempted by all their aisles of other things). They sell seasonal items, such as Christmas or Halloween decorations or sandals in the summer time; photo frames and albums; camera and other small electronics (mostly kitchen related); cosmetics; hair and bath products; processed foods (soups, crackers, and other items in cans or packages); and laundry detergents and other cleaning supplies among other things.

We start off with appetizers, which is a little something before your main meal, the entree. In standard menus (although there are many versions), you may see (1) appetizers, (2) soups, (3) salads, (4) entree, (5) desserts, and (6) beverages. In some cases, especially if the company is picking up the bill, and the person has no shame, people will order all of them!

Tipping sometimes confuses me and annoys me. It confuses me because especially around Christmas time, all sorts of media discuss who gets a tip, sometimes above what you would normally give them, if their profession is a tipped one: the newspaper delivery person, the mail carrier (who cannot accept cash), the massage therapist, the hair dresser, the childcare worker, etc. Normally everyday tipping, such as the server in the restaurant or the manicurist doesn't confuse me... I generally give 15% of the bill. The annoyance comes every so often when I have to tip a lot (such as $30 for a $200 meal, thinking that $30 could buy some other thing if we didn't live it a tipping society!).

Size and color of the bills is something I grew up with, so you just get used to it. For example, my daughter is 10, and she seems to be able to quickly figure out the bills. I didn't know the difference until I went to a country as a child where their money is different colors... then I got confused because I would try to memorize what bill was what color. The sizes didn't help because all the money didn't land on top of each other nicely!

Hope this helps!
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Old 12-25-2007, 08:39 AM   #5
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Drug store explained...

Tipping is usually 15 to 20%.... but has gotten out of hand in NY where you are supposed to tip your doorman, your garbage man, your hairdresser, your... insert here...

The bills are starting to get some color in them... so it will be changing over time... I just saw where the $5 bill will have a LARGE purple number on the back.. I forget what is happening for the blind.. but I know they sued to try and get different sizes....

NOW, for the remaining question... I had read somewhere about entree... and how you use it and how it 'really' came about... it was an interesting read, but will not search for it.... let's just say that it was a LONG time ago when there were more courses... it was the 'first' of the main courses, hence the entree into the main dishes... then there was something else and also 'roast'... so, three main dishes... those got cut down over time (and due to lack of meat at times)... and the entree was the only 'main' dish left.... so, you actually use it wrong, thinking it is a 'starter' or entry into eating...
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Old 12-25-2007, 09:00 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sweetlip View Post
Hi my American friends;
Us Aussies are pretty well au fait with American culture because we are swamped with American TV shows and movies.

Nonetheless, every now and then I get a bit confused about American jargon. Can anyone explain a few things to me, please?

1. What is a drug store? I thought that they must be a pharmacy which sells prescription medicines but I have heard that such is not the case. Help?

In Australia, a pharmacist or "chemist shop" sells much more than just medicines these days, selling every thing from cosmetics to toilet paper and washing-up detergents as well as dispensing prescription medicines.

What is the American situation, please?

2. At a restaurant, what do you call the main course. Here we call it the main course but I think (?) that you call it the entree which is what we call the smaller portion component of the meal before the main course - which I think that you call an appetiser. All guidance gratefully received.

3. Does the tipping regime in the USA confuse you and annoy you? Tipping is not a usual practice in Australia although it is done infrequently. In my career, I used to fly interstate every single week of the year, staying in five star hotels, dining out every night and using taxis all the time. Many times, I have done that without a single cent in my pocket, relying on credit cards for all payments and paying no tips as is our custom. When I have spent a week in America on business a few years ago, it seemed to me that everyone carried around rolls of paper money. Is that usual? Is it so that there are always small notes for tips?

4. Not wearing my reading glasses, I mistakenly handed over a $100 note to a Cable Car conductor in San Francisco, thinking that I was handing over a $10 note. Does the fact that all USA notes are the same size and color confuse you? How do blind people cope? In Australia we have different sizes and denominations of our paper money (Which is actually plastic) and it works very well. RBA: Notes in Circulation

They probably seem like silly questions but I would love to understand you guys a bit better.

Best wishes ..............
I normally love questions from our international friends and answer with the thought of spreading peace and harmony across the universe. But you caught me on Christmas morning and all I got was coal in my stocking! I'm not happy considering if I were to burn this coal I would be responsible for melting the polar ice caps and killing million of children when the sea level rises. Add to the mess the subprime mess, a presidential election, and it doesn't bode well for a happy 2008.

So my finger is itching on my Colt .45 1911 - (Oh! I forgot; you government took yours away from you - it is a gun) to pop a cap on you.

1. Drug store = you buy drugs there. It is like a food store where you buy food) except instead of food you buy drugs (and if they have a drug store inside it; you can buy drugs also). What did you think they sold there - lawn mowers?

2. Entree is the main course. We changed the name from main course to entree so that visitors to this country would think it is the small first course and order more than one. That is why you often hear from foreigners that we eat too much here and the portions are too large.

3. Tipping is our way of reminding those people who receive it that they are lower on the pecking order and should get a better job. In countries that pay people a living wage in such jobs they stay there all their lives and hold back the growth potenital of the country. Thomas Edison and Bill Gates are two who first worked for TIPS and because of this system moved onto better things. If you wan to act like a true American next time you give TIP do this: Give the person a 1 or 2% TIP and say "Get a better Job", they will love you for it.

4. Reading glasses - wear them - I hope you did before you signed a deal here. The lawyers will rob you blind if you didn't.
If I understand you correctly; you equate the size of the bill with the denomination of the bill?

Here's a TIP - Al Gore invented the internet and with it came a thing called a search engine - try it - here is a good one Google It could have answered your questions.

Now, I saw the rock you crawled from under - near Alice Springs. It is big, so it took you at least 40 years to get out and you have missed a lot of the 20th century. So here are some of the highlights - smoking; drinking large quantities of alcohol, and eating fatty foods are all good for you. You shouldn't mix whites and colored clothes when washing them in hot water.

Merry Christmas and remember - shopping is the reason for the season.

The cause of all our problems is either global warming; religion; the subprime mess; intollerance; or George Bush - either of them.

God or god bless you.

PS - This is my way of saying welcome aboard and toughing you up for some of the discussion that go on here.
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Old 12-25-2007, 09:01 AM   #7
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The bills are starting to get some color in them... so it will be changing over time... I just saw where the $5 bill will have a LARGE purple number on the back.. I forget what is happening for the blind.. but I know they sued to try and get different sizes....
My grandfather was totally blind, and ran a candy stand in city hall back in the middle of the 20th century. He would ask people he knew (such as me, when I was a little girl) to help him identify larger bills, and put them aside. He made change only with one dollar bills.

Technology has been helpful to the blind in recent years. The blind couple running our snack bar at work have a machine that can read and identify bills. You put the bill in the machine, and the machine distinctly says "FIVE DOLLARS" or whatever the denomination of the bill happens to be.
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Old 12-25-2007, 09:27 AM   #8
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Hey dex! Too much egg nog? Or too little?
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Old 12-25-2007, 09:31 AM   #9
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I think Dex needs a hug.
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Old 12-25-2007, 09:39 AM   #10
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In South Beach restaurants, in very tiny print at the bottom of their menus:
"We add a gratuity of 18% to the total as a convenience for our customers."

They present the credit card chit with an empty TIP line. A couple of times I wanted to enter a deduction on that line.
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Old 12-25-2007, 09:43 AM   #11
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Hopefully Dex went back to bed. Sounds like he got very little sleep.
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Old 12-25-2007, 10:10 AM   #12
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3. Tipping is our way of reminding those people who receive it that they are lower on the pecking order and should get a better job. In countries that pay people a living wage in such jobs they stay there all their lives and hold back the growth potenital of the country. Thomas Edison and Bill Gates are two who first worked for TIPS and because of this system moved onto better things. If you wan to act like a true American next time you give TIP do this: Give the person a 1 or 2% TIP and say "Get a better Job", they will love you for it.

is that really true ? sounds kind of cruel to me (I'm an Australian). Each to their own, I'm sure some people make great money out of tips.
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Old 12-25-2007, 11:12 AM   #13
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Dex,
Tomorrow is another day ! Cheer up !
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Old 12-25-2007, 12:17 PM   #14
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3. Tipping is our way of reminding those people who receive it that they are lower on the pecking order and should get a better job. In countries that pay people a living wage in such jobs they stay there all their lives and hold back the growth potenital of the country. Thomas Edison and Bill Gates are two who first worked for TIPS and because of this system moved onto better things. If you wan to act like a true American next time you give TIP do this: Give the person a 1 or 2% TIP and say "Get a better Job", they will love you for it.

is that really true ? sounds kind of cruel to me (I'm an Australian). Each to their own, I'm sure some people make great money out of tips.
No that is not true, in fact I got quite a few tips on my way to retirement at 30. People just assume that people that receive tips must be lower on the society rung for some reason. (And do not tell them to get a real job, someone will beat your ass!)
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Old 12-25-2007, 12:18 PM   #15
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3. Tipping is our way of reminding those people who receive it that they are lower on the pecking order and should get a better job. In countries that pay people a living wage in such jobs they stay there all their lives and hold back the growth potenital of the country. Thomas Edison and Bill Gates are two who first worked for TIPS and because of this system moved onto better things. If you wan to act like a true American next time you give TIP do this: Give the person a 1 or 2% TIP and say "Get a better Job", they will love you for it.

is that really true ? sounds kind of cruel to me (I'm an Australian). Each to their own, I'm sure some people make great money out of tips.
I don't think that Dex speaks for a majority of Americans on this subject. Also, there was a lawsuit against the US Treasury for the reasons that you mentioned. At some point, they will have to change the size since they lost a lawsuit mentioned here
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Old 12-25-2007, 12:30 PM   #16
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Interesting comment on tipping.

My parents are European immigrants, and in most of Europe, you don't tip. So living in the U.S., it's been rather interesting as us (the kids) know that you are supposed to tip, but the parents don't really get it. We really had to teach them, and it was not easy.

My parents had 4 of us, so when we would go out to a nice restaurant and the bill for 6 was well over $100.00, we would mention to dad "Hey, leave a tip..." For a while his response was "Why?" He thought that they already got paid by the hour pretty well, so why give them free money. After all, that's how Europe was, and even when you went to many European restaurants in the U.S. that's how it was. When he finally started leaving tips, it would be $5.00 on a bill over $100.00. Embarassing...

Now he gets it, and he'll leave ~15% on average, but that was after mom learned how the system works in the U.S. and started to yell at him.
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Old 12-25-2007, 12:55 PM   #17
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I don't think that Dex speaks for a majority of Americans on this subject.
I think Dex was being sarcastic.
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Old 12-25-2007, 01:51 PM   #18
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I am glad that Dex cleared things up....

Perverse reversals As writer, poet and member of the modernist literary and artistic movement the Angry Penguins, Max Harris points out in his book The Australian Way with Words , 'one of the Australian ratbag traditions is to take a word and perversely use it as the opposite of its intended meaning.' A well-known illustration of this is the word 'bluey', a nickname for someone with red hair.

-Another example would be to say that this thread is interesting....
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Old 12-25-2007, 03:00 PM   #19
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Ah Dex, there you are. I can see you now ...





Thanks to everyone for your illuminating responses, including Dex.


A further question, please ... Do you call all of your places that sell medicines, "drug stores" or are some called pharmacies or something else?


Oh, BTW, as for that Colt .45 1911 of yours, Dex, it is true I cannot own one legally in Australia. After a nutcase slaughtered a lot of people at a tourist spot in 1996, the Federal government banned general ownership of guns in Australia with a couple of huge buyback schemes which resulted in big piles of guns being destroyed by all sorts of visually interesting means such as driving bulldozers over them.

That is not to say that we don't understand guns, we probably understand them better than most other countries - after all, we have invented the fastest most powerful gun technology in the world right here in sleepy Brisbane, "Metal Storm" ...

However, we are a peace loving nation and in my view, banning guns was the only good thing that our previous prime minister did in his eleven years in the role, just ended. Whilst the bad guys can still get guns through illicit means if they really want them, fear of other people with guns does not drive Aussies to want them. Our gun death statistics have decreased from 5.1 per 100 000 population in 1979 to 1.5 per 100,000 population in 2002 with the biggest decreases happening in the year after guns were banned. By comparison, the USA suffered 9.88 gun deaths of all causes per 100,000 population in 2004. [I am obviously borrowing on stats freely available on the internet in a couple of reports so the years don't match exactly but the message remains the same.]

... and yes, we play with guns in places like Iraq and Afghanistan just like you guys do. Our SAS soldiers are particularly lethal with them. May they always be so - but not the kid who lives next door.

Colt 45 So old fashioned.
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Old 12-25-2007, 03:41 PM   #20
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Occasionally you will see a pharmacy that just sells medicine but the majority of our drug stores are big chains that sell drugs and everything else .You can also get prescriptions filled at most grocery stores .As for over the counter medicine aspirin,cold medicine and antacids you can find them just about everywhere .Hope this helps !
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