When your ‘American in Britain-self’ becomes your own worst nightmare: the ugly American


It happened. (YET AGAIN!)

Today. I . became. that. annoying. American.

I didn’t mean to be. I didn’t walk in the mizzle with my cheery Cath Kidston bag on my arm armed¬† to go ’cause a scene’. It just came out of me like it was the most natural thing in the world. Like giving birth–over time (erm, like every nine months or so)¬† it just has to come out.

My ‘ugly American’ moment happened by stating to the Sainsbury’s cashier:

‘is the price on the computer screen for those maxipads wrong? Weren’t they on sale? They were under the sale shelf. And were clearly marked with a promotional sign.

No, she said.

I don’t mind paying the extra pound, it is the principal of it, I would have chosen something else if I had known.

Sorry, those ones are not included in the offer.

Ok….can I speak to your store manager about making the sign more clear so other women aren’t confused too?

Glares all around from 16 people behind me wanting to buy their lunch. No other noise except my American-self filling the store. A few nervous shuffles behind me. I had caused a scene! And over maxipads! What was I thinking?

If I didn’t have my American twang (no matter how ‘Britified’ it may sound to my American family let’s face it, a twang is a TWANG) would I have gotten all those dirty looks at the till? Probably.

My American-ness just added to everyone’s annoyance. I wouldn’t have thought twice about it if I were in the USA.

Nothing was resolved, I didn’t get the maxipads at the sale price. And I felt really stupid walking out with the British stare at my back. Sigh.

Even if I am about to marry a Brit, I am afraid I just can’t give up my customer rights, nor my strong opinions.

A thought dawned on me. Maybe I am the one that the annoying American stereotype is based on…. and I even live here permanently!! hehe


Customer neglect in the UK?