Jesus 'n Jim

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Unwritten Rules of the USA


Some of the  Unwritten Rules  of living in the USA, or how to avoid antisocial behavior, being pummelled with purses, and keep away that 'annoyed' look. And how to use a check register.

...Things people assume you know when you hit the real world, but you may not have been told about.  Written by someone who's been there & found some things the hard way :-/

The whole basis for this thing is the golden rule - "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you."

What's behind this rule is thinking about other people in everything you do.  In other words, treat people they way they would like to be treated.  What was meant by this was to do good/nice things to people.  There's a side benefit too - you feel a lot better about yourself when you do it with a right spirit.

People don't like being ignored.  Greet them when they come near.

When you pass someone in a doorway, pass them on the right ride of the doorway. When walking on the sidewalk, walk on the right side. same rule as for driving on the street. This way you avoid uncomfortable situations.

Don't pick your teeth (or your nose) in public.

Don't pass gas in public. Save it for the restroom. Women especially don't like this. Maybe you should avoid the beans & cauliflower...


Most office work is about teamwork.  Though it is not taught much in school, get into it every chance you can if you're still in school.


Hospitality - Having guests over to your house

When people come over to your house, it is 'normal' to make sure they have something to munch and ask them if they would like something to drink (juice, water, soda pop, milk).  Things to munch: sandwich halves, apple slices, celery sticks, tiny bite-sized carrots, maybe candy.  Things not to offer: alcoholic beverages (it makes you look bad, it's also wrong, and you may offend them).

table setting

Setting the table:
Fork on left, knife and spoon on right, napkin under the spoon and knife, cup above spoon and knife. (my scanner wasn't big enough for all the items to fit well). For more complete place settings, see here.

While they are there...

Hospitality (a word I need to get used to) means offering food & something refreshing to your guests.  If they are thirsty or hungry, it will probably be appreciated, and they won't embarass themselves trying to ask for something.  The basic idea is to make them feel welcome  & comfortable at your home.

When they leave

Don't let them 'see themselves out the door'.  Open the door for them (they may also not know how to use your locks).  When you see them out, it shows that you care about them, or conversely, that you aren't 'distanced' toward them.  Stay in the door until they have gotten in their car and gone.  Maybe even wave goodbye.

When to leave someone's house

  • ...when they make like they need to go somewhere.
  • ...when it's 9pm, 10pm Max! (reason: you don't want to make them weary of having you over - when hints like yawning don't work, they may become more direct.) They may also need to get to work. Some people go to bed at 8:30pm. It's a good idea to find out what time they go to bed before you ever go over to someone's house.

City Bus Stops: Why do they have all those no-this and no-that signs?

I think I know why.  I had to dodge out of the way of people on skateboards or bikes who were coming almost right at me.  Now, I think the people who made the rules were thinking of people's safety - especially elderly people: if they fall down, they break bones easy, and a fall could mean they die.  Their broken bones may not heal up.

Opening doors for women: don't go in the door first to open it for them. That doesn't work. Well, sometimes women in the USA are into Women's Lib too much and will open doors for the men (reverse psychology) or don't want you doing that for them, but most of the time, they appreciate the gesture. (or, it's even expected)

Real life skills