As you might expect, I use Google to do a daily search for new “metric system” items to ensure I don’t miss anything relevant to my research. And while I do get some searches that don’t quite hit the mark (“metrics” also refer to other kinds of measures as in “My sales metrics went up again last month”), most of them are right on topic.
A recent piece in an online publication called “The Travel” had an article called “25 Things About America We All Can’t Stand (Even The Locals). What was the number one “annoyance”? Our measurements:
Most of the world abides by the metric system when it comes to measurements, however, believe it or not, the United States is the only industrialized country in the world that does not use the metric system as its predominant system of measurement, says Britannica.
Ironically, the publisher of this list is an organization that had its address listed in Quebec, Canada. In case you are not aware, Canada is a “soft adoption” country that uses both Imperial and metric system units on many things, so this is somewhat of a situation of “the pot calling the kettle black.”
This got me looking for other articles that might mention our lack of metric system adoption as an American inconsistency. Of course, I found some.
Another recent article, dated from November 15 of last year was called “24 things that are considered ‘normal’ in the US but the rest of the world finds weird.”
One of those items is “Using the imperial system of measurement instead of the metric system.”*
The United States is one of only three countries that still use the imperial system of measurement, and everyone out there thinks we’re strange for doing so.
A piece from Redbook dated June 25, 2018, was called “37 Things Americans Do That Confuse the Rest of the World: There’s the American way…and then there’s everybody else.”
Number 25 of the 37 lists “Measure in miles, feet, and inches:
This is an obvious one, and, yet, it’s still a constant source of bewilderment for most of the world. Instead of following the metric system, America is one of just three countries to follow the imperial system of measurement. (The others are Liberia and Myanmar.)
So, aside from our lack of metric system adoption, what do others find strange about us? A smattering:
- Take-out boxes and drink refills
- Huge portion sizes (which probably leads to the take-out boxes)
- Walking around with large cups of coffee
- Using ice in everything
Just in case you think them all food-related, also included are:
- Working too much
- Baby showers
- Talking to strangers
- Being too sensitive (as well as too insensitive to others)
- Having flags everywhere
- Not enough privacy in public bathroom stalls
- We’re loud and smile too much
- Sales tax
This last one is likely because some 140 countries have a Value Added Tax (known as VAT) that is seen on the item itself. However, in the United States, sales tax is not known until you’re at the sales register. And that’s because sales tax can differ from state to state and even region to region. As an example, the sales tax in Los Alamos, NM (where I live) is 7.3125% but the sales tax in Santa Fe, NM is 8.44% (that’s just 54 km or 44 minutes away).
And that goes back to one of my arguments that one of the reasons we’ve found metric system adoption difficult in this country is because we are less the UNITED States of American than the United STATES of America (As in states’ rights). Still, it’s written into the Constitution that Congress can set weights and measures for our country so at least that’s one less hurdle to overcome.
Let’s get with the global program and switch to the metric system (or S.I. as it is known in the rest of the world.)
Thanks for tuning in.