20 British Problems Americans Just Don’t Understand

It was only a few weeks ago that my flatmate called me “the most British person” that he’d ever met. I must admit, I was quite taken aback at the time. Bearing in mind that he lived in Britain himself, out of all of the people he had ever met, I was the most British? Was it something I did? Immediately I apologised, smiled tightly, and left the room, vowing to avoid him for the next few days…

It was only the next day at work that it struck me that he may have a point.

I’m not certain, but I’ve heard it through the grapevine that Americans don’t come across these unfortunate situations and simply don’t understand the problems we Brits encounter all the time. Personally, I think they’re clear as day, but for those who don’t, we welcome you for a vacation into the terrifying world of the British psyche, to witness the horror that we have to deal with on a daily basis.

1. We are genuinely unable to put voting slips into what is obviously the ballot box without asking one question

“Do I just pop this in here?”

2. Every day situations get needlessly apologetic

Socially awkward Brit no. 1: Sorry, are you in the queue?

Socially awkward Brit no. 2: Oh, no I’m not, sorry!

Socially awkward Brit no. 1: Oh, sorry!

*both Brits laugh uncontrollably with relief*

3. No one really gets when we’re mad for some reason

“I’m completely livid so I’m going to write ‘regards’ instead of ‘kind regards’ in this email. See how they like that.”

4. We waste a lot of our time thinking about things like this

I wonder if I nodded an appropriate number of times while that person spoke.

5. It’s easy to unnerve us – especially while discussing the weather

She’s insisting I don’t need a jacket and now I feel extremely uneasy.

6. We find it incredibly difficult to express our true feelings

Whenever one of us says: “I can’t say I’ve ever really been a fan” you should know it usually translates to: My dislike for them is so strong it’s all-consuming.

7. We don’t take surprises very well

I saw someone I know and took a detour that added half an hour onto my journey.

8. The majority of us dabble in alcoholism

“He wanted to go for a walk but there were no pub stops on the way. What was he thinking?”

9. We say sorry when we’re not even sorry in the slightest

“Sorry, I think you might have dropped this?”

In other words: I know you dropped this because I saw it happen just now. And I’m not sorry.

10. We have certain social cues we expect everyone to follow and when they don’t we get very stressed out

Starting to panic when a conversation doesn’t end despite the fact you’ve said “anyway” and “right” at least ten times.

11. We feel somewhat inclined to mask our disappointment

When a British person says the words “never mind”, they’ve probably never been so disappointed in their entire life.

12. Being British we have certain expectations and become despondent when they’re not met

Sitting down to a nature documentary and finding out David Attenborough isn’t narrating.

13. We don’t always say when we want something

Being too polite to take the last biscuit for yourself so sitting in an awkward standoff where no one admits their true intentions.

14. Sometimes, we’re just complete idiots

Accidentally ringing the bus bell at the wrong stop and being too awkward to explain the situation, so getting off at the wrong stop and walking.

15. British people can’t say certain words that other people can

Many of us genuinely unable to say the word “great” without sounding sarcastic.

16. We literally can’t act like normal human beings

Noticing another customer is browsing the food you want in the supermarket and having to pretend you’re looking at something else until they move on.

17. We can’t help but say the same two words over and over again

When a meal comes out in different dishes brought out one at a time and you have to say thank you for each and every one.

18. We don’t want to bother anyone – often at our own expense

Not feeling very well but not wanting to disturb your doctor.

19. We literally can’t not be polite

Praying and hoping your friend finishes their story so you don’t have to miss your bus stop.

20. All in all our problems are utterly ridiculous

Running out of ways to say “thank you” when someone opens a succession of doors for you; you’ve used “thanks”, “cheers”, “ta” and “nice one” and life is becoming difficult.

Do you see now how our whole lives are plagued with fear and apprehension? Sure, a lot of you may think we have cute accents, but I hope I’ve opened your eyes to the fact that being born a British person is a deeply problematic existence. Right well, thank you very much for reading and I’ll be off to the pub now.

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