• Weird History

Things Visitors And New Residents Should Never Do In The United States

List RulesVote up the best advice for people unfamiliar with the ways and customs of the United States.

People who have grown up in one place generally know how that place works. They can move through their day without second-guessing the laws, customs, and general unwritten rules of their surroundings. But when they travel and find themselves out of their element, it can throw them for a loop. Conversely, when others travel to our homes, they can reflect back to us customs and rules of our country we might not even be aware of.

The United States of America is a large country that hosts many guests. People visit for business, pleasure, education, and all sorts of other reasons. It can be hard for visitors to keep up with all the peculiarities that pop up. The people of Reddit have tried to help anyone visiting for the first time, answering this question: What's something you should never do in the USA?

  • 1

    Don't Trespass On Other People's Property

    From Redditor u/Jekselpeone:

    I thought this was an obvious one, but my German exchange student would very casually walk on/through people's properties, even going so far as to walk up to their houses in the middle of the night. This is a huge no-no unless you need help; just casually walking around on people's properties would make them think you are looking to rob the place.

    Good advice?
  • 2

    Don't Get Out Of Your Car And Approach The Police When You're Pulled Over

    From Redditor u/TheBassMeister:

    [Don't] get out of your car and approach the cop when being stopped by a cop unless told to.

    And Redditor u/concisekinetics:

    Proper etiquette is to have music turned down and hands visible. Some people will pull out their license and registration beforehand; others prefer not to dig around in pockets unless the cop asks them to. For an especially American piece of advice, it's considered polite to disclose if you're carrying a gun (if you don't and have a license to, they'll ask after running your info).

    Good advice?
  • 3

    Don't Assume You Know The Law

    From Redditor u/banquoinchains:

    [Don't] make the assumption that you know the law. Our local laws change drastically from state to state. If you buy weed, for example, it may be illegal to drive 10 miles west into another state.

    Good advice?
  • 4

    Don't Try To Bribe Police Officers

    From Redditor u/ConnivingCondor:

    Don't try to bribe cops when you get pulled over. I had some Argentinian friends immediately pull out their wallets and start pooling their cash when they got pulled over once. Fortunately, someone in the car noticed and told them to put it away immediately.

    And Redditor u/throwaway_lmkg:

    Apparently in some countries, if you get a ticket for something, you can actually pay the fine to the police officer on the spot. NFL kicker and Raiders legend Sebastian Janikowski was arrested and almost deported back to Poland for trying to bribe a police officer, until he convinced the court that he just thought that's how it legitimately works.

    And Redditor u/LemonAid1980:

    My wife is from a former Soviet country. We were back to visit her family. So, I rented a car as us USA people always do. I listed my wife and her father as drivers ('cause we were going on a road trip)... jumped in, and started driving. About 45 minutes in to our drive, some cops were standing on the side of the road with 40 kph flags. My wife and I still disagree, but I KNOW I dropped it down to under 45 kph. Short story, I got busted. Showed my [US] license. Cops were confused ([Cyrillic] alphabet difference). My father-in-law (an EXTREMELY honest man who would not pay a bribe under ANY circumstances) got out to talk to them. He came back with all the papers and said that he would like to drive and we could proceed.

    I asked him what happened. He said that he and the cop had a talk and agreed that with my US driver's license it would be too much of a hassle to [pursue] the ticket, so he could pay it on the spot. He gave the cop the equivalent of $20 US.

    I laughed and said, "Dad, you can drive as fast as you would like the rest of the trip; I've got lots of $20s."

    He did drive the rest of the trip; we didn't get stopped again.


    Good advice?