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Arkansas State Parks made these photos of the newly restored Cash home in Dyess, about 90 minutes from Lesmeister Guesthouse. If you haven’t been, you should make plans soon!! It’s a fine stopover between Memphis and Pocahontas.
Click the first thumbnail to open the viewer, then use the > button on the right side of the viewer to see the other photos. In the window, note the Ice card. Depression era residents used it to indicate how much ice the delivery man needed to leave that day for the ice box.
As an American, you can find volumes of travel books instructing you how to behave when you visit other countries—which seemingly innocent hand gestures are vulgar in Romania, for example, or how close you can stand to a Japanese businessman. But what about when foreigners visit our country?
It’s not easy to find out what the non-English speaking world thinks of us, as it is another unique peculiarity of Americans that most only speak one language. But Google speaks many, even Russian. So with Google’s help, I set out to learn more about “американский этикет,” or, Russia’s take on American etiquette. (Note: Some of my interpretations of these translations may be a bit liberal, and we welcome any translation help from Russian-speaking Flossers.)
Short Version: Don’t worry about gifts. It’s not a big deal to Americans and can even make them feel bad. If you do gift, go really Russian, they love that. Also did you know bribery was illegal in America? Be careful of that.
“Gifts: Americans do not expect them. On the contrary, an unexpected gift while conducting business can put an American in an awkward position. Such things for Americans suggest reciprocity.”
“If you do gift, it is desirable to bring something purely Russian when you visit the United States. But make it ‘purely Russian’ for modern America – not nesting dolls and samovar. Instead bring a good book about Moscow or Russian history, art and culture. Americans appreciate a good education and have great respect for cognitive literature.” (Деловой этикет по-американски)
“Business gifts in the U.S. are not acceptable. Moreover, they often cause suspicion. Americans fear that they could be construed as a bribe, and in the United States that is strictly punishable by law.” (Национальные особенности этикета в США)
The short version: American women are a little uptight. They might call the cops if you look at them too long. And don’t be gallant, that creeps them out.
“US etiquette prohibits flirting with a woman who is not your girlfriend or wife. If you are not acquainted with a woman, whether she be in a restaurant, on the street, or on the subway, do not look at her legs, etc. Americans could easily call the police on you, even for just ogling her.” (Этикет США)
“Welcome and introductions: men and women tend to shake hands. Mutual kissing and kissing ladies’ hands is not accepted. Also, women play a greater role in business. Often they insist to be treated exactly as an equal and not as a lady. In this regard, it is not acceptable to be excessively gallant, and you should avoid personal questions (do not find out whether she is married). (Национальные особенности этикета в США)
It’s weird how one nation’s flirting is another nation’s motivation to use pepper spray.
Short Version: Americans are delicate buttercups by Russian standards, so be gentle. They get all touchy when you show up at their house uninvited and get their feelings hurt just because you hang up on them when you’re done talking. They also do this thing with their legs that is so annoying. Bring them a badminton racket, they go crazy for those. Oh! And when they say, “See you later,” they’re totally lying. And whatever you do, don’t mention the magnetic storm.
“Showing up at a business associate’s home uninvited in the United States is not acceptable. You may be invited to a picnic –if you’ve known each other for several years and are social outside the office. As a rule, the invitation will be only on a weekend, and you don’t have to prepare for something extravagant. Everything is the same as ours, only with far less booze. Bring something sporty – ball, badminton, Americans are certainly fervent fans of these things.” (Деловой этикет по-американски)
“Americans generally do not like long intros and prefer to go directly to the subject matter, especially if it’s a phone conversation. In Russia we talk about general topics before moving on to the reason for the call. Conversely, Americans are often surprised by the Russian habit of quickly breaking off a conversation and hanging up. Phone etiquette in America usually involves the gradual end of the conversation, confirmation agreements and standard closing remarks. By the way, ‘see you later’ should not be taken literally. That is a courtesy, and no more.
“Russian conversational patterns often sound harsh to Americans. Statements such as, ‘You’re wrong,’ can be offensive. This can be interpreted as ‘You are telling lies!’ Therefore it is better to say, ‘I do not think I can agree with this.'” (Американский речевой этикет)
“When Americans are talking, they might put their foot on a nearby chair, or even a table. They might cross their legs so that one foot rests on the opposite knee. In American culture, it is considered an acceptable norm, but often causes irritation in other countries.” (Национальные особенности этикета в США)
“You should not discuss their health unless you are visiting a friend in the hospital. What seems caring can be regarded as an invasion of privacy, lack of tact. You have to have some justification to show interest in their health. Do not ask the effect of a magnetic storm (not many Americans know what that is) on their well-being.”
(Американский речевой этикет)
Short Version: These people do not stop smiling. Also, they don’t want to hear your problems because it interrupts their smiling. “Surviving” makes you a hero over there. Here it just means you were unlucky, but not unlucky enough to have died.
“Americans and Russians say different things when faced with the same situation. Seeing the man who had fallen in the street, an American asks, ‘Are you all right?’ Russians will inquire: ‘Are you ill?’ We see a victim of the incident; they see survivors.Survivors are perceived as heroes. Where we ‘aren’t sick,’ they ‘stay well.’ We discuss the problem. They discuss issues and items on the agenda.” (Американский речевой этикет)
“US etiquette requires that you smile in each and every situation. If you want to travel to America, be prepared to give a smile not only to friends and acquaintances, but also to all passers-by, in shops, to the staff at the hotel, police on the streets, etc.
“US etiquette also forbids lamenting the troubles of life, or sharing your problems with others. Sharing in this country can only be positive emotions—sorrows and frustrations are impermissible. In the US you only complain to acquaintances in the most extreme cases. Serious problems are for close friends and relatives only.
“However, it would be wrong to believe that the Americans with their smiles only create the illusion of well-being and that their smiles are stretched with false joy. This is not so. Americans: they are a nation that truly feels happy. These people get used to smiling from the cradle onwards, so they do not pretend to be cheerful. The desire for a successful happy life is inculcated from childhood.” (Этикет США)
1. THERE IS A THING CALLED “DINNER PLATES.” AND WHAT GOES ON THEM IS A MIGHTY DISAPPOINTMENT.
In Japan, each person eating gets as many individual dishes as needed for the meal. Sometimes more than 10 dishes per person are used. In America, there is a method where a large bowl or dish is placed in the middle of the table, and you take as much as you like from there, and put it on a big dish said to be a “dinner plate.”
In Japan, meals at home are for eating, because your stomach is vacant. At an American’s dinner, there is food, decorations on the table and tableware, and music to produce a fun atmosphere. It is a time for maintaining rich human relationships. Therefore, the meal is as long as 40 minutes. In addition, often the decorative tableware has been handed down mother to daughter, two generations, three generations. In addition, there are even more valuable dishes used for Christmas and Thanksgiving.
American food is flat to the taste, indifferent in the subtle difference of taste. There is no such thing there as a little “secret ingredient.” Sugar, salt, pepper, oils, and routine spices are used for family meals. There is no such thing as purely U.S. cuisine, except the hamburger, which isn’t made at home so much. There is almost nothing special to eat based on the different seasons of the year. Basically, they like sweet, high fat, high calories things.
2. BEWARE ROUGH AREAS WHERE THE CLOTHES DEMAND ATTENTION
In Japan, hip hop clothes are considered stylish. But in the United States, it is wise to avoid them, as you might be mistaken for a member of a street gang.
The entire United States does not have good security, unfortunately. However, the difference between a place with good regional security and a “rough area” is clear. People walk less, there is a lot of graffiti, windows and doors are strictly fitted with bars. And young people are dressed in hip hop clothes that say “I want you to pay attention to me!”
3. BUT YOU’LL BE PLEASANTLY SURPRISED BY AMERICAN TRAFFIC PATTERNS.
Manners with cars in America are really damn good. Japanese people should be embarrassed when they look at how good car manners are in America. You must wait whenever you cross an intersection for the traffic light. People don’t get pushy to go first. Except for some people, everyone keeps exactly to the speed limit. America is a car society, but their damn good manners are not limited to cars.
4. NOBODY IS IMPRESSED BY HOW MUCH YOU CAN DRINK. IN FACT, SHAME ON YOU.
In the U.S., they do not have a sense of superiority if they are able to drink a large amount. Rather, if you drink a lot, there is a sense that you cannot manage yourself. There is something close to contempt toward someone who must drink a lot to be drunk. To drink alcohol habitually is to have alcoholism. Alcoholics are weak people mentally, to be one means you have spanned the label of social outcasts that can’t self-manage.
Non-smokers are more important than smokers in the US. Smokers capture the concept that they are not able to control themselves, and are the owners of weak character.
5. THEY HAVE FREE TIME ALL WEEK LONG!
In America, whether you are a student, working person, or housewife, you carefully make room for leisure time, weekdays and weekends. Most people are ensured free time, always. During the week they use it for walking, jogging, bicycling, tennis, racquetball, bowling, watching movies, reading, and volunteering. On the weekend, they enjoy even more freedom, and take liberal arts courses and have sporting leisures.
In Japan we believe that there is no free time during the weekday. Only the weekend. We spend the weekend watching TV, hanging around home, working, studying, and shopping, or listening to music.
6. KNOWING HOW TO USE SARCASM IS A MUST TO COMMUNICATE WITH AN AMERICAN.
If you put your bent middle and index fingers of both hands in the air, you are making finger quotation marks. It means you do not believe what you are saying. You can also say, “or so called.”
7. THEY TEND TO HORSE LAUGH, EVEN THE WOMEN. IT’S HOW THEY SHOW THEY’RE HONEST.
In Japan, when a woman laughs, she places her hand so it does not show her mouth. It is disgraceful to laugh by loudly opening the mouth. Adult males do not laugh much. There is the saying, “Man, do not laugh so much that you show your teeth.”
In America, when men or women laugh, they do not turn away. They face front, open the mouth, and laugh in a loud voice. This is because in America if you muffle your laugh or turn away while laughing, you give the impression that you are talking about a secret or name-calling. It is nasty.
8. YOU WON’T BE GETTING YOUR GROCERIES ANYTIME SOON, SO CHECKOUT LINES ARE A GREAT PLACE TO MAKE FRIENDS.
Cashiers are slow. Abysmally slow compared to Japan. I get frustrated when I’m in a hurry. Americans wait leisurely even if you’re in the special checkout for buying just a little something. I thought Americans were going to be quite impatient, but in reality they are extremely laid back. I thought about what I should do with my time while waiting in the grocery matrix, and began to speak at length with other guests.
9. THEIR VENDING MACHINES ARE RIDICULOUSLY LIMITED AND DISHONEST.
Vending machines in the United States just give carbonated beverages. Coke particularly. If you try to buy the juice from a vending machine when you’re thirsty, it’s just all carbonate. I pressed the button and thought it would be a nice orange juice, but carbonate came out. I love carbonated, but there are times when it will make you sick indeed.
10. BUT DARN IT ALL, THEY’RE SO WEIRDLY OPTIMISTIC YOU JUST CAN’T STAY IRRITATED AT THEM.
In Japan, there is great fear of failure and mistakes in front of other people. It is better to do nothing and avoid being criticized than to taste the humiliation of failure. As a result, there are things we wanted to do, but did not, and often regret.
In America, you can make mistakes, fail, and it doesn’t matter. It is a fundamental feeling that to sometimes be incorrect is natural. In addition, rather than thinking about mistakes and failures, American’s have curiosity and say, “Let’s try anyway!”
Pocahontas is a real town, not just a suburb of some larger place. Our 18 block commercial historic district is the largest such district in Arkansas. Still mostly a “diamond in the rough”, buildings in this area retain most of their historic features, though some were covered by “modern” facades in the 1950’s and 60’s.
Our historic district is slowly but steadily being reborn as the wonderful place it was over 100 years ago, and Lesmeister Guesthouse is leading the way! The restoration of the building, removing modern additions and facades and restoring the historic appearance, has gone a long way in motivating local property owners to care for structures that have too-long been taken for granted here.
• Site of the 1863 capture of Civil War General Jeff Thompson
• The Downtown Playhouse, featuring live plays and other events in our rehabilitated movie theater
• 1872 Courthouse-Authentic Victorian Architecture
• Randolph County Heritage Museum
• Arkansas’ only Quilt Trail
• Black River Beads and Pottery Gallery
• Civil War Memorial Walking Trail
• Arkansas’ Oldest Barber Shop
• Arkansas’ Oldest Drug Store
• R.J. Reynolds Art Gallery
• A Real Meteorite
• Fully Restored 1921 Train Depot
• and much more!