what do people incorrectly believe to be universal?
July 26, 2015 10:03 AM   Subscribe

I'm looking for tasks where (1) each person consistently does it in a particular way, (2) believes that everyone else does it that same way, and (3) is wrong about (2).

This came out of a conversation a few years ago about how one cleans oneself after a bowel movement, where it turned out that between the ten or so of us, we practiced five different methods (sit vs. stand vs. hover slightly off the seat vs. wet wipe vs. wash with water) and were each surprised to learn that there was any room for variation.

I've since collected a bunch of others, all related to the bathroom. For example, how one dries oneself after bathing: wipe dry with a small handheld towel, drape a big towel around oneself and buff dry, don a bathrobe and wander around until dried, squeegee water off with one's hand, etc.

I'm guessing one of the necessary conditions for this sort of cryptic diversity is that people rarely discuss with others how they do it.
posted by d. z. wang to Grab Bag (183 answers total) 78 users marked this as a favorite
 
Making toast, apparently. My students are appalled that I voluntarily do not own a toaster or a toaster oven and instead make toast on a skillet on my cooktop.
posted by vegartanipla at 10:06 AM on July 26, 2015 [12 favorites]


I'd say "hang toilet paper", but the #2 for that is less "believes everyone does it the same way" and more "believes everyone who does it differently is a HEATHEN WHO MUST DIE IN A FIRE".

I'll bet there's a bunch around household cleaning; things like vacuuming and dusting that, while the way YOU do it makes perfect sense to you and seems the most efficient, other people have found their own comfortable ways of doing them.
posted by hanov3r at 10:12 AM on July 26, 2015 [1 favorite]


Opening wine.
posted by vrakatar at 10:17 AM on July 26, 2015 [1 favorite]


Towels: use a new one each time vs reuse the towel a number of times
Beds: duvet w/ cover vs comforter
Eating: American vs European way to hold utensils
Dishwasher: rinse/pre-wash all dishes before loading vs. not doing that
posted by melissasaurus at 10:21 AM on July 26, 2015 [2 favorites]


I used to think that all women took off their bras the same way I do (take arms out of straps, inch bra around so that the clasp is in front, undo clasp) and was horrified when I learned some people just reach back around themselves to undo the clasp.
posted by coppermoss at 10:21 AM on July 26, 2015 [24 favorites]


wipe arse by putting hand in front of body vs. behind
posted by lokta at 10:23 AM on July 26, 2015 [3 favorites]


Maybe you've already thought of this bathroom-related one, but the way you use the toilet paper itself--fold, crumple, or something else?
Also the number of squares you use per wipe. Not just with pooping but peeing (for those with vulvas) and wiping period blood, there might be even more variation there.

How you dispose the applicator of a tampon (I put it back in the wrapper, put that in the trash)

Breakfast cereal--pour milk and then cereal, pour cereal and then milk, mix after pouring both, no mixing at all?

How to pronounce "gif"
posted by picklenickle at 10:25 AM on July 26, 2015 [1 favorite]


How a dishwasher is supposed to be loaded.
posted by sperose at 10:27 AM on July 26, 2015 [22 favorites]


Toothpaste - I am a normal person and wet the toothbrush and then put toothpaste on. My husband (and now my kids because he taught them) puts the toothpaste on and then wets it. The toothpaste usually falls off and they have to put more on.
posted by artychoke at 10:29 AM on July 26, 2015 [25 favorites]


One that I learned right here is how tampons are disposed of (not just applicators) -- there was a long thread a while back where each group was shocked to learn people were throwing tampons in the trash or the toilet.
posted by telegraph at 10:29 AM on July 26, 2015 [10 favorites]


I had some friends in college who were exchange students from the Netherlands. One day they had us over for dinner and were washing up while we hung out in their kitchen. My American friends and I were horrified that they did the dishes by washing them in soapy water, and then drying them off without rinsing. (Or maybe they let them drip dry or something, the weird part to us was that they didn't wash with a soapy sponge or brush and then rinse in hot water.) I don't know if this is true because it still seems insane to me—doesn't it leave the utensils covered in dirty soap water?!—but the two of them swore that was how everyone in the NL did it.
posted by the thorn bushes have roses at 10:29 AM on July 26, 2015 [13 favorites]


Related to tampons, I was shocked to discover that some women remove them every time they pee. It seems most of them are aware that it's not anatomically necessary to do so in order to urinate, but it's something about how the string is then tainted with pee. I'm starting to think I'm in the minority, but I pee far too often for that to be practical...and now I wear a menstrual cup and don't think about it.
posted by the thorn bushes have roses at 10:34 AM on July 26, 2015 [14 favorites]


Apparently the proper way to peel a banana is to pinch the bottom end so it opens, whereas I've always pulled down from the stalk end.
posted by billiebee at 10:36 AM on July 26, 2015 [5 favorites]


I know someone who, when making tea, adds sugar and milk to the water before the teabag. The results are predictably foul, but there's no convincing them that there is a better way.
posted by Sternmeyer at 10:39 AM on July 26, 2015 [10 favorites]


When stopped at a red light at intersection, wanting (and signaling) to go left.
We learned in drivers' training (taught by Fred Flintstone, apparently,) that once the light turns green, you must inch the car into the intersection while waiting for the through traffic. Once it's clear, then make your left turn. This is the method that all drivers should use.
What I encounter are timid drivers who wait behind the line at the green light, then go when clear, cheating one or two drivers behind them of the time to make that same left turn. Burn, burn!
posted by BostonTerrier at 10:54 AM on July 26, 2015 [55 favorites]


Whether you take shoes off when going into the house or not.
posted by BibiRose at 11:04 AM on July 26, 2015 [14 favorites]


Cutlery up or down in the dishwasher.

Garlic only done with a garlic press.

I encountered some older people that were genuinely disturbed at muting commercials on TV.

Wearing underwear beneath pjs or not.

Sleeping with the fan off in Korea.
posted by Candleman at 11:04 AM on July 26, 2015 [1 favorite]


Not quite sure this fits, as it's a bit gender-specific... but when my oldest son visited a friend of mine for a week, I'd been struggling to get him to even start potty-training. He came back fully potty-trained; she'd suggested to him that he could pee while sitting down, if he wanted to. That did the trick til he was more successful at standing up. (I was utterly amazed... that guys could do that had never, ever occurred to me!)
posted by stormyteal at 11:06 AM on July 26, 2015 [10 favorites]


My wife's family makes s'mores by bundling the graham crackers, chocolate & marshmallows into foil and putting them on the dying embers of the campfire/barbecue. Which: wtf?
posted by Emperor SnooKloze at 11:07 AM on July 26, 2015 [22 favorites]


Eating corn on the cob -- do you eat side to side in rows, or around the cob in circles?
posted by holborne at 11:07 AM on July 26, 2015 [3 favorites]


Sleep. I can't tell you how many clients I have that talk about midnight waking as a common thing (I always talk about this variation of biphasic sleep when they bring this up).
posted by thebotanyofsouls at 11:14 AM on July 26, 2015 [2 favorites]


I should clarify actually before making some other suggestions... Are you looking for tasks that are consciously done or including unconscious actions as well?
posted by thebotanyofsouls at 11:16 AM on July 26, 2015 [1 favorite]


The order of operations for getting into a car, arranging personal belongings, starting the car and making your initial movements.

"Put your seatbelt on!"
"Why? I haven't started the engine yet!"
"Did you check your mirrors?"
"You think elves come along at night and mess with your shit?"
"Fuck you. Where's your cellphone?"
"In my pocket."
"It goes HERE."
"That's the goddamned cup holder!"
"I don't see you with a latte, motherfucker. Do you see a latte?"
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 11:20 AM on July 26, 2015 [73 favorites]


Inside-out T-shirts. You can either turn the T-shirt rightside-out before folding it or rolling it or whatever you do and then don it by poking your head through the bottom of the T-shirt, or you can fold/roll/whatever the T-shirt in whatever side-out condition you find it and then don it if it happens to be inside out by inserting your head in the neck hole and turning the shirt rightside out as you put it on. I think this may be rare because most people exclaim when they see me doing it.
posted by Don Pepino at 11:20 AM on July 26, 2015 [8 favorites]


An Australian friend of mine was criticizing the wastefulness of American culture and pointed out the we all rinse our dishes after washing them with soap. I was like "w-wha... ? How do YOU get the soap off?" And she said they just put them in the rack and the soap dripped off. I still don't know if that is an Australian/non-American thing or just her.
posted by easter queen at 11:55 AM on July 26, 2015 [9 favorites]


Folding socks.
Counting cash.
posted by meinvt at 12:09 PM on July 26, 2015


Flushing tampons versus tossing them in the trash.
How people apply soap in the shower (scrubbie vs washcloth vs hand, vs rubbing the soap on you)
Sleeping in underwear including sleeping in bras
Wearing underwear underneath pantyhose/stockings/tights
Rinsing vs not rinsing recycleables
The different ways to wear (or not wear) shoes indoors
Wearing clothes multiple times without washing
Necessity of deodorant

Some of these I think people acknowledge there are multiple human ways of solving for X but I've had arguments about most of them with people who really believe there is only One Way. Usually this stuff revolves around ideas about germs or hygiene it seems.
posted by jessamyn at 12:12 PM on July 26, 2015 [6 favorites]


I was actually thinking about making an Ask about this one: when did people start putting soap on their hands before wetting them when washing hands? I come from the bar soap era, where this wasn't even possible, now I see it all the time and it kinda freaks me out
posted by Mchelly at 12:20 PM on July 26, 2015 [10 favorites]


The tampon thing! That blew my mind. There was also that enormous shoes on/off in the house thread some years ago.

Putting leftovers in the fridge is another one. I grew up putting food away immediately, even if it's still warm; my husband waits until it's cooled down.
posted by Metroid Baby at 12:21 PM on July 26, 2015


use of top sheets
posted by WesterbergHigh at 12:30 PM on July 26, 2015 [9 favorites]


Hard-boiled eggs! There are the people who put the eggs in cold water and bring it up to a boil; there are the people who bring the water to a boil and then put the eggs in; and they are all wrong because the best way to is to steam them.
posted by Kat Allison at 12:32 PM on July 26, 2015 [9 favorites]


For post-toilet hygiene, apparently a lot of people don't install any method of water cleansing, even in homes they own, and instead just dry-wipe all the time.
posted by wonton endangerment at 12:42 PM on July 26, 2015 [7 favorites]


Here's a new one to me:Antiperspirant works better over night.
posted by emelenjr at 12:57 PM on July 26, 2015 [9 favorites]


I walked in on my husband making ramen, and was shocked to find him "doing it wrong," and explained the "right (my) way" to him. Then we looked at the packaging and realized that neither one of us were following the directions : /
And that is just boiling noodles in a bit of water. It was eye-opening.
posted by thebrokedown at 12:58 PM on July 26, 2015 [16 favorites]


I'm with my parents for the week, and boy howdy, tipping.
posted by estlin at 1:09 PM on July 26, 2015 [26 favorites]


Tying one's shoes.
posted by standardasparagus at 1:15 PM on July 26, 2015


Related (very popular) question about unwittingly doing things wrong for the longest time.
posted by Aleyn at 1:37 PM on July 26, 2015 [2 favorites]


To jessamyn's comment: not just panties w/ pantyhose or not, but whether they should be worn under/over.

I'M JUST THE MESSENGER!
posted by chesty_a_arthur at 1:38 PM on July 26, 2015 [15 favorites]


Opening champagne. Never pop the cork. Hold cork securely in one hand and gently rotate the bottle. Ease the bottle off the cork with a slight hisssss.
posted by Thorzdad at 1:50 PM on July 26, 2015 [10 favorites]


Doing the dishes (using lots of running water, filling up with lots of hot water and mainly using that, letting thing drip dry vs hand dry)
Ketchup on pasta (I didn't realize it wasn't a common thing until I was a teenager)
Lots of recipes fall into this category, like spagetti bolognese
How to open sash windows to cool down a room (Opening just the top vs Just the bottom vs Opening a crack at the top and bottom)
Giving lilies (are they just if someone has died or anytime)
Hostess gifts, required vs not ("but everyone I know gives them!" <- actual conversation from last month)
posted by troytroy at 2:12 PM on July 26, 2015 [3 favorites]


The Japanese are lefty tightie, righty loosie. I bought a water filled calligraphy brush that screws backwards, then I bought a garden hose, same thing. The typical wastern way of screwing is changing.
posted by Oyéah at 2:30 PM on July 26, 2015 [6 favorites]


It seems like a good time to bring this up, some people just put their bras on over their heads, like putting on a tank top. They come off the same way.
posted by Oyéah at 2:33 PM on July 26, 2015 [8 favorites]


Cats: out-of-doors or not?
posted by Room 641-A at 3:24 PM on July 26, 2015 [8 favorites]


Waving around a Polaroid once it pops out. Everyone knows it doesn't make the picture develop any faster.
posted by Elly Vortex at 4:24 PM on July 26, 2015


For men who wear briefs, using the fly to urinate vs. pulling the leg-hole to the side vs. pulling the waistband down.
posted by ogooglebar at 4:36 PM on July 26, 2015 [5 favorites]


When to add sugar/milk to hot beverages. (I worked as a barista and best is sugar in cup, hot beverage - thus fully dissolving the sugar, then milk last so as not to cool the drink before the sugar is dissolved.)

What does and does not go in a dryer. A lot of Europeans I know are shocked that Americans put nearly EVERYTHING in dryers, they usually don't have them or only use them for linens. Meanwhile, my own parents have an outdoor clothesline primarily used for linens and clothes usually go in the dryer.

Fabric softener, especially vis a vis towels.

What does and does not get eaten with one's hands. In some cultures - I'm looking at you, Germany - EVERYTHING is eaten with a knife and fork, including sandwiches. Even within the U.S., ask for a fork & knife with pizza and someone else will declare blasphemy.
posted by sonika at 4:36 PM on July 26, 2015 [5 favorites]


Pets: what to feed them.
Uber: to tip driver vs. not.
posted by wonton endangerment at 5:02 PM on July 26, 2015 [2 favorites]


I did not know this until I shared a hotel room with a friend, but there are people who, when they get up to pee at 3 in the morning, will wash their hands with soap and water afterwards. At 3 am! I'm not sure where or what they think they will contaminate with uric acid between then and 7 am, when you wake up and inevitably have to pee anyway.
posted by chainsofreedom at 7:29 PM on July 26, 2015 [3 favorites]


Using hot water and a dryer for clothes. Knitting left handed. People who don't leave a message but expect you to call them back.
posted by kjs4 at 8:22 PM on July 26, 2015 [3 favorites]


Knitting. There are two main methods: European and English.
posted by lollusc at 8:28 PM on July 26, 2015


Tying shoes: one loop or two?
posted by bendy at 8:44 PM on July 26, 2015


Opening a coconut
posted by Tom-B at 8:46 PM on July 26, 2015 [1 favorite]


Facing toward or away from the shower head when lathering up. People always seem to face toward it on television, but what about real people? Especially when there's a lot of water pressure?
posted by serena15221 at 9:10 PM on July 26, 2015 [5 favorites]


Tipping on the pre-tax amount vs. the post-tax amount.
posted by SisterHavana at 9:17 PM on July 26, 2015 [1 favorite]


Re: tampons, not just the disposal question (people seriously flush them? Seriously?!?!) but also the whole applicator thing, which is just not as ubiquitous as many Americans seem to think. Really, you have an applicator at the end of your wrist. Well, unless you are Captain Hook. Not that he needed tampons.

Re: dishes, agree with above methods but also washing dishes in running water vs soapy water and another one I've seen is to use a damp soapy sponge to wash things, then rinse them off.

Tipping waitstaff in restaurants. In some countries, waitstaff are actually paid a (not generous, but not sub-standard) wage and are not forced to rely on tips to earn a living. Tips are actually tips, an extra rewarding excellent service.

The sticker price/item price shown being the price you pay at the register. Yes, there are countries in which you do not have to do complicated mental arithmetic to work out whether you have enough cash to buy something. Tax is still part of what you pay, it's just included in the sticker price.

Flushing the toilet. Here we have two flush buttons on the toilet, a half flush and a full flush. There's also the schools of thought re when you flush or don't, ie if it's yellow, let it mellow; if it's brown, flush it down.

Brushing teeth: not only wet/dry toothbrush, but leaving the water running while you brush (heresy in drought-prone areas) or not and also what you do when you're done. Do you rinse? Not rinse? Rinse by sticking your head under the tap, sucking in some water? Use a special glass that's kept for the purpose? Use your cupped hand to scoop water for rinsing?

Putting on shoes & socks. Both socks followed by both shoes, or one sock one shoe, other sock other shoe? Tying of shoes also. Which reminds me of how people tie shoes, which I recently learned through AskMe I have been doing wrong my entire life and since I learned the correct way my shoes just don't spontaneously come untied. Ever.

I'm steering clear of language variations and regionalisms, ditto spelling, because that's just a whole question in and of itself.
posted by Athanassiel at 9:33 PM on July 26, 2015 [5 favorites]


Many many people eat rice with a fork. I cry every time I watch them do it - do they also shovel dirt with a rake??

I too have corrected a friend about the "right" way to make instant ramen - but I have reliable evidence of dozens of friends who have proclaimed that I make the best ramen in the world, so HA.

I've never understood the "letting soapy water drip off" thing - when I first moved to Australia I watched in horror as my ex-boyfriend did exactly this. It made me realise that EVERY TIME I ate at his house, I was eating off horrific soapy water dishes.

In contrast, my husband now will NOT load the dishwasher without rinsing/brushing the dishes off first. I just put them in. They get clean either way - but he doesn't believe me that they do.

Showering in the morning or at night (or, daily) - that's a huge one.

Makeup before hair, or hair before makeup?

You should try watching the way people use their smart phones sometime - it can literally make me exhausted watching people not use them in an efficient way.

Likewise, it continually astounds me how many people GOOGLE a website name to get to a website, instead of typing it straight in. As in, they go to google.com, then type "ask.metafilter.com", then click on the first result - instead of just typing it into the url bar.
posted by shazzam! at 9:41 PM on July 26, 2015 [5 favorites]


In what order do you eat the food on your plate? Do you eat all the vegetables, then all the potatoes, then all the meat? Or do you eat some vegetables, then some potatoes, then some meat, then some vegetables, then some potatoes, then some meat, and so on until you are finished? There was a lot of other evidence, but I knew my last relationship was irreparable when my ex spent more time telling me I was eating dinner in the wrong order than it would have to just eat dinner.
posted by Multicellular Exothermic at 10:32 PM on July 26, 2015 [11 favorites]


Both socks followed by both shoes, or one sock one shoe, other sock other shoe?

According to Archie Bunker, it's both socks first.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 10:51 PM on July 26, 2015 [7 favorites]


Oh yes, order of eating food. Another variation is do you eat all of your least-favourite thing first to get it over with, leaving only foods you like? Or do you wolf down the thing you like most because yum! Or do you space out the thing you don't like so much so that it's distributed throughout the meal?

I mean, not that it actually matters, but if you are of the eating disliked stuff first camp and you happen to be dining at the place of someone who eats favourite thing first, you may wind up with an extra portion of your disliked thing.
posted by Athanassiel at 10:57 PM on July 26, 2015 [2 favorites]


Eating raw carrots. Do you cut the end off first? Peel it? Both? Or neither?

Filling order for hard-shell tacos. Salsa and sour cream in first, or on top, or something else?

Putting petrol / gas in the car. Do you stand at the back of the car, looking toward the front, or in front of the tank, looking to the rear, or do you stand with your back to the car and look at the pump?
posted by obiwanwasabi at 11:21 PM on July 26, 2015 [1 favorite]


My dad asked recently, "Don't you love how mango makes your mouth kind of numb and tingly?" He was surprised to learn that this is not a universal experience, and that he is probably allergic to mango.
posted by coppermoss at 12:09 AM on July 27, 2015 [145 favorites]


When it comes to condiments, are you a dipper or cover-er? (I'm thinking of things like French fries and pancakes.)

Whether certain foods are eaten as a sweet or savory. (I eat hot cereals like oatmeal and Cream of Wheat with butter and salt, not fruit or syrup.)

Filling order for hard-shell tacos. Salsa and sour cream in first, or on top, or something else?

Hot dog toppings, too.

Do you rinse? Not rinse? Rinse by sticking your head under the tap, sucking in some water? Use a special glass that's kept for the purpose? Use your cupped hand to scoop water for rinsing?

Dixie Cups. YOLO.
posted by Room 641-A at 5:21 AM on July 27, 2015 [1 favorite]


Wearing a seat belt when it's not a legal requirement (in the back seat for adults in my state, sadly). I won't name names to protect the innocent fucking insane, put on your seat belt or this car is not moving.

I see a lot of people above making the assumption that you have to wet the toothbrush, I know people who try to salivate a lot instead.... Or that your dental cleanser comes in a paste form, I also know people who use baking soda (straight from the box, not the "baking soda tooth paste").

Frequency of hair washing. Look up the thread(s?) about this one. And what you do in between (get hair wet when bathing even if not using a cleanser vs don't).

Direction of passing dishes at a fancy family sit-down meal, do you pass all food at the beginning (and if so, to the left or to the right?) or is it a free-for-all of zig-zagging dishes?

European vs US fork holding--there's a thread about this. Does your fork stay in your non-dominant hand for both food cutting and food transportation, or is it in your non-dominant for food cutting and your dominant for food transportation?

Even Blackbeard prefers a comfortable plastic applicator which won't keelhaul your nethers.
posted by anaelith at 5:28 AM on July 27, 2015 [1 favorite]


The ubiquity of Dixie cups is another thing.

Also which side of the escalator you stand on and which side you walk on. Not always what you might think given driving rules. (Australia is stand left, walk right while US is stand right, walk left. This makes sense given which side of the road you drive on in both countries and which are slow/fast lanes. But I think - and Brits please correct me if I'm wrong, in the UK it is also stand right, walk left.)

Pirate tampons notwithstanding, not having an applicator does not result in keel-hauling. You do actually have to touch your bits though.
posted by Athanassiel at 6:31 AM on July 27, 2015


Having a communal coffee-stirring spoon for at-home situations, or providing an individual spoon for each person who wants to mix sugar and cream into their coffee.
posted by sleeping bear at 6:34 AM on July 27, 2015 [1 favorite]


Can't believe nobody's linked to the legendary MeFi Sitting vs Standing To Wipe thread yet. I guess because it's already included in the question, but in case you want to see one of these topics expanded and explored pretty exhaustively by the MeFiverse...
posted by penguin pie at 7:15 AM on July 27, 2015 [4 favorites]


I seem to remember there being a whole thread somewhere here about "hidden" features in common items that few people seemed to be aware of (such as the ability to effortlessly dispense one Tic Tac from a box because of the box design, or that urinals are designed with an "aiming point" to diminish splashback) but I'm coming up short on actually finding the thread.

I was pretty shocked to learn that people eat things out of the ground. Seriously - I grew up literally on top of a Superfund site and we were always told that eating anything wild would cause immediate irreparable death, so I was flabbergasted the first time I went with my now-wife to meet her parents out in rural Oregon and they were all just blithely eating wild blackberries on sorrel on a hike. I thought we were all goners.
posted by backseatpilot at 8:25 AM on July 27, 2015 [8 favorites]


I seem to remember there being a whole thread somewhere here about "hidden" features in common items that few people seemed to be aware of (such as the ability to effortlessly dispense one Tic Tac from a box because of the box design, or that urinals are designed with an "aiming point" to diminish splashback) but I'm coming up short on actually finding the thread.

I have a vague recollection of that thread as well, I think that's where I learned that:

-childproof prescription medication containers have threads on two sides of the lid, so you can turn it over and it's no longer childproof (but easier to get on and off)
-things on a roll, like aluminum foil and saran wrap, have tabs on each end of the box you can push in and then the roll spins on them rather than coming out of the box whenever you pull

The tampon flushing discussion was eye-opening and surprising, I have flushed them everywhere I've lived/worked/used a bathroom my whole life with no problems (except the very few bathrooms with a sign asking to not flush them). Yet that thread is full of people responding they can't believe anyone would ever flush and that it's just a known thing you don't do. Very interesting, I'd never heard that stance.
posted by JenMarie at 9:41 AM on July 27, 2015 [2 favorites]


I have a feeling you could find a ton of these by searching ask.mefi comments for "heresy", "heathen", "WTF?", and "who does that?". I'm sure there are a few other terms.

In fact, I vividly remember the thread about whether bed sheets should be tucked in. Although that thread does not seem to include any of the suggested terms.
posted by timepiece at 1:32 PM on July 27, 2015 [4 favorites]


When parking a car, do you pull the parking brake and then put the gearshift in "P" or vice versa? Or maybe you're a flat-lander heathen who doesn't even use the parking brake?
posted by mhum at 3:08 PM on July 27, 2015


I think this is the thread that people are referring to about hidden features in common items.

As for me, I don't understand when I go to a restaurant or fast food place or whatever, and see people eating all their fries first. What is that?! Is it because cold fries are gross? Because I think cold burgers are even grosser. I first saw a friend eat all his fries first in college, and I had a moment where I thought I had been doing it wrong all along.
posted by jabes at 5:36 PM on July 27, 2015


the proper way to peel a banana is to pinch the bottom end so it opens, whereas I've always pulled down from the stalk end

The stalk end is the bottom end of a banana.
posted by HiroProtagonist at 8:13 PM on July 27, 2015 [7 favorites]


Taking off shirts by grabbing the bottom hem and pulling over arms versus grabbing the back of the shirt between your shoulders and pulling off
posted by rubster at 2:23 AM on July 28, 2015 [5 favorites]


I don't understand when I go to a restaurant or fast food place or whatever, and see people eating all their fries first

Because fries are pretty bland compared to whatever they are served with. So they taste good if I'm d still hungry and don't know better, but if I just ate something more delicious already, the fries are going to taste disappointing by comparison.
posted by lollusc at 2:25 AM on July 28, 2015 [1 favorite]


When parking a car, do you pull the parking brake and then put the gearshift in "P" or vice versa? Or maybe you're a flat-lander heathen who doesn't even use the parking brake?

For a manual transmission, do you leave it parked in gear or not?
posted by ogooglebar at 9:26 AM on July 28, 2015 [3 favorites]


And if you do leave it in gear, 1st or Reverse?
posted by ogooglebar at 9:27 AM on July 28, 2015


This may be too related to lathering up in the shower, but also rinsing out shampoo/conditioner in the shower. I have the back of my head toward the shower head and rinse my hair. My husband and now my child flip their hair in front of their face and face the shower head.

Putting on skirts/dresses: Over the head or feet through first?

Floss first or brush first?
posted by freezer cake at 10:09 AM on July 28, 2015


Maybe cars are different now, but 30 years ago when I bought a convertible people had definite opinions on keeping the doors unlocked so potential thieves wouldn't slash the top.

Socks: rolled, folded, ??
posted by Room 641-A at 11:01 AM on July 28, 2015


I came back to report that indeed, searching for "heathen" in ask.mefi comments can find you a bunch of this stuff. Although most of it is people self-reporting "I know, I'm a heathen" before recommending their preferred item/method/whatever. It's pretty entertaining. I haven't tried "heresy" or "blasphemy" yet. I suspect "WTF" is too vague.
posted by timepiece at 1:58 PM on July 28, 2015 [1 favorite]


what do people incorrectly believe to be universal

Ask anyone[*] who is married. Previously they thought there was only one way to do [task], now they're married, they find that there are two ways to do [task]: Their spouses way, and the wrong way.

[*] OK, there is probably someone living in a remote part of Mongolia who hasn't experienced this.
posted by HiroProtagonist at 6:30 PM on July 28, 2015 [2 favorites]


Don't know if it's a generally-Mexican thing or just the family my (thankfully-)ex-nephew-in-law came from: toilet paper always went into the trash, never flushed down the toilet --- which was pretty gross if he'd just done #2.....
posted by easily confused at 8:24 AM on July 29, 2015


Don't know if it's a generally-Mexican thing or just the family my (thankfully-)ex-nephew-in-law came from: toilet paper always went into the trash, never flushed down the toilet --- which was pretty gross if he'd just done #2.....

It's not uncommon outside the U.S. When I was in Iraq (living off-base), we had signs over every toilet saying "DO NOT FLUSH TOILET PAPER -- PUT IT IN THE TRASH", and no American ever took them seriously until the toilets backed up. I finally added it to the orientation presentation, and people still didn't really believe it.
posted by Etrigan at 8:28 AM on July 29, 2015 [9 favorites]


Don't know if it's a generally-Mexican thing or just the family my (thankfully-)ex-nephew-in-law came from: toilet paper always went into the trash, never flushed down the toilet --- which was pretty gross if he'd just done #2.....

It's a country-by-country thing, often in countries with plumbing not built to dispose of the paper. In some of those countries, the kitchen-sink-sprayer bidet is pretty common, and you're expected to clean with that and use the paper to dry off.

Also, for the list, people in those countries often think cleaning off by wiping with paper is completely disgusting.
posted by atbash at 8:31 AM on July 29, 2015 [2 favorites]


I thought it was pretty obvious that you cut an avocado in half length-wise (from top to bottom), then removed the pit, then scooped or cut out the delicious fattening flesh until I recently asked a friend to start making guacamole and she cut in half around the center. IT WAS HORRIFYING! But she seemed to think that was normal. Do other people think this is normal or was she simply WRONG WRONG WRONG?
posted by maryr at 8:41 AM on July 29, 2015 [5 favorites]


Paper toilet seat covers. Everywhere in the States (is there a law?) but generally lacking in Canada. I'm not sure what/why they're used but I guess there are people who think the way I pee (coverless) is completely wrong.

I remember some thread about use/non-use of face clothes. I think it broke down somewhat along racial lines?

Apparently I've been doing pasta wrong. I was told at my friend's mom's house (upstate NY Italians) to pick any pasta shape to go with the sauce (red filled with yummy stuff like sausage and meatballs). I picked linguini and apparently that was WRONG. We had to drive to the store to buy some and then the noodle choice had to be commented on and explained to evey new arrival. The only person who didn't show any shock about the wrong sort of noodles was Jewish. Flat noodles = white sauce. Round noodles = red sauce.
posted by hydrobatidae at 8:44 AM on July 29, 2015 [2 favorites]


Putting petrol / gas in the car. Do you stand at the back of the car, looking toward the front, or in front of the tank, looking to the rear, or do you stand with your back to the car and look at the pump?

I've never thought of those as a "one true way" issue, it's more about how painful it is at any given time to watch the numbers go up on the pump.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 8:48 AM on July 29, 2015 [1 favorite]


I was once ruthlessly mocked for wearing a seatbelt in the back of a taxi, because who wears seatbelts in taxis?
posted by moonlet at 8:57 AM on July 29, 2015


Oh, and wet bath towels: do they have to be spread over a bar to dry fully, or is a hook sufficient? How about leaving them in a pile on in the bed or floor?
posted by moonlet at 9:10 AM on July 29, 2015 [1 favorite]


See also Wikipedia's List of common misconceptions.
posted by zachlipton at 9:50 AM on July 29, 2015 [4 favorites]


How to carry cups full of hot liquid. Working as a barista in NYC, many customers would insist you put the cup FULL OF BURNING HOT LIQUID into a paper bag rolled down old-school deli style so they could carry it, instead of just grasping it or taking a sleeve if it's too hot. There were even people who would refuse a drink tray for two drinks and put them both in!

One gentleman was particularly insistent about putting two 16oz cups of just brewed coffee into a bag instead of a tray, and then had the nerve to come back 20 minutes later and ask for two free coffees because they had fallen through the bag. Shockingly, what with the hot liquid and all...
posted by MetropolisOfMentalLife at 10:08 AM on July 29, 2015 [3 favorites]


I don't understand when I go to a restaurant or fast food place or whatever, and see people eating all their fries first

Because fries are pretty bland compared to whatever they are served with. So they taste good if I'm d still hungry and don't know better, but if I just ate something more delicious already, the fries are going to taste disappointing by comparison.


Fries, even good ones, have a limited deliciousness life -- the longer they sit, the more the flavor, crispiness, etc. degrade. Which is why one eats the fries out of the bag on the way home from (e.g.) In N Out, if one doesn't scarf the entire meal sitting in the parking lot (or inside).
posted by Celsius1414 at 10:22 AM on July 29, 2015 [5 favorites]


Clothing, acceptable number of times for wearing thereof between washings; methods for determining need for cleaning, etc.

On my own my method involves rehanging or refolding and putting away clothing that is LEVEL ONE PRETTY MUCH CLEAN, putting clothing that is LEVEL TWO WORE IT ONCE OR TWICE BUT CAN PROBABLY WEAR AGAIN on a chair or dresser top or on the floor if they are jeans, in hamper or on washroom floor if LEVEL THREE WASH WASH WASH.

My husband has Some Other System. We've never had a Discussion about this.

Relatedly, more or a linguistic thing but: whether 'pants' refers to jeans, slacks and so on or to underwear. My ex tried diligently to train me to the latter view, with very little success.
posted by tivalasvegas at 10:23 AM on July 29, 2015 [3 favorites]


Breakfast cereal--pour milk and then cereal, pour cereal and then milk, mix after pouring both, no mixing at all?

What in the name of all that is holy?!?! It's called a Bowl of Cereal for a reason!
  1. Bowl on counter.
  2. Pour cereal into bowl.
  3. Pour milk over cereal until the equilibrium of "cereal not spilling out of the bowl" is reached.
  4. Perform "disarming a bomb" level of caution trying to slip spoon into bowl without disturbing equilibrium.
  5. Carefully head to the living room for cartoons (if Saturday) or comics (if Sunday).

posted by Celsius1414 at 10:28 AM on July 29, 2015 [22 favorites]


Putting petrol / gas in the car.
I stand upwind of the toxic gasoline hose, and face the numbers on the pump.
posted by Multicellular Exothermic at 10:34 AM on July 29, 2015


Putting petrol / gas in the car. Do you stand at the back of the car, looking toward the front, or in front of the tank, looking to the rear, or do you stand with your back to the car and look at the pump?

None of the above, if I can help it. I engage the little latch thing on the pump to keep it running (if the pump has one) and wipe the front windshield with the squeegee (if the station has one.)
posted by Johnny Assay at 10:50 AM on July 29, 2015 [1 favorite]


I dated a Frenchman and was very amused when we went into the kitchen one morning and he heated up some hot cocoa on the stove and then poured it into a bowl. "Are you... out of cups?" I asked. He looked at me in confusion. Apparently he regularly drank hot cocoa out of bowls and found this to be completely normal.

(I cannot confirm if this is a French thing or a him thing.)
posted by aintthattheway at 11:20 AM on July 29, 2015 [2 favorites]


In what order do you eat the food on your plate?

Previously (I tried to establish this as a gendered thing and failed miserably; it seems to be one of those one-or-the-other-camp things).
posted by dlugoczaj at 11:48 AM on July 29, 2015


Apparently I've been doing pasta wrong. . . Flat noodles = white sauce. Round noodles = red sauce.

Nope. Pasta shape should be determined by what else is in the pasta dish. If there's lots of other chunky things like veggies, sausage, etc., shaped pasta "forks" better along with the stuff. If you've just got a sauce, use long pasta for maximum clinginess.
posted by dlugoczaj at 11:51 AM on July 29, 2015 [7 favorites]


Opening champagne. Never pop the cork. Hold cork securely in one hand and gently rotate the bottle. Ease the bottle off the cork with a slight hisssss.

And if the cork is sticking, tear off a chunk of a paper towel and use that to grip it. (You may want to do so anyway, to clean up spillage.)
posted by A dead Quaker at 11:55 AM on July 29, 2015


(I cannot confirm if this is a French thing or a him thing.)

It's a French thing.
posted by ocherdraco at 12:51 PM on July 29, 2015 [6 favorites]


tear off a chunk of a paper towel

You are a monster, that's what a clean hand towel is for.
posted by aramaic at 12:53 PM on July 29, 2015 [2 favorites]


Some people have deeply-held moral beliefs against putting ketchup on hot dogs.

(Celsius1414, one addendum: When eating a boring grown-up cereal like corn flakes, you have to pour the milk over the cereal, so that when you sprinkle sugar on top it will stick and be distributed evenly!)
posted by usonian at 2:23 PM on July 29, 2015 [3 favorites]


Communication:

guess vs ask (indirect vs direct)
posted by aniola at 2:30 PM on July 29, 2015 [1 favorite]


Pants: Zip first, then button? or button then zip?

As far as bananas go, break it in half. You get two smaller portions, which is good if you have a tendency to eat too fast.

In today's Internet "Life Hack" (tm) age, (hard) tacos actually have an optimal order: cheese first. It binds to the taco shell and enhances the shatter resistance of the taco as opposed to all falling off.

The cereal one is interesting, as soggy cereal is universally the enemy, but the methods are opposing. Personally, the way I avoid having soggy cereal is to pour a tiny bit of cereal in the bowl, then a matching tiny bit of milk, and then eating those, and then pouring more while I'm still hungry, but that's extra effort. I have yet to experience the magic of an Obol, but I might be too old and set in my ways to see that particular light.

Dixie cups and paper towels vs resuables is a question of environmentalism which I've accepted that some people don't share, but it still bothers me.
posted by fragmede at 2:54 PM on July 29, 2015


The cereal one is interesting, as soggy cereal is universally the enemy

Even that is not universal. For me, part of the challenge in eating corn flakes involves overcoming my impatience, as I prefer them after they've been soaked for several minutes. It brings out the flavor more, plus the contrast between the soggy lower layer and the upper crust is nice.

(I come by it honestly; my mother prefers them soggy as well.)
posted by Shmuel510 at 3:08 PM on July 29, 2015 [4 favorites]


There was a thread on Reddit a few weeks ago where people were *shocked* to find out that peanut butter is not green. Apparently peanut butter falls into a specific range of brown shades that appears green to people with a type of color blindness called Deutan.
posted by erinfern at 3:12 PM on July 29, 2015 [12 favorites]


Shmuel510: I'm impressed, this thread is about beliefs being assumed as universal, and here you are proving it. At the cost of me being wrong, too :p

How about wet socks? Can we all agree that wet socks are the worst?
posted by fragmede at 3:23 PM on July 29, 2015 [2 favorites]


The cereal one is interesting, as soggy cereal is universally the enemy

Even that is not universal.


100% agreed. The only way I like my cereal crunchy is if I'm eating it straight from the box. Otherwise it has to be soaked in milk, mashed under the milk to really drown it, and then drained along the side of the bowl with my spoon so that I don't actually ingest any more milk than what's clinging to the cereal by the time it enters my mouth.

I'm also not opposed to cold fries.
posted by jabes at 3:31 PM on July 29, 2015 [2 favorites]


How about wet socks? Can we all agree that wet socks are the worst?

No argument here!
posted by Shmuel510 at 3:53 PM on July 29, 2015


Eating corn on the cob -- do you eat side to side in rows, or around the cob in circles?
posted by holborne at 2:07 PM on July 26


In what order do you eat the food on your plate? [...]
posted by Multicellular Exothermic at 1:32 AM on July 27


It sounds like ADHD makes eating much more simple than it might be otherwise. Consistency is for other people. Eat side to side *and* around, in between bites of all the other foods on the plate!

Inside-out T-shirts. [...]
posted by Don Pepino at 2:20 PM on July 26


The Spouse turns his shirts right-side out through the NECK hole, rather than through the waist opening. It makes me cringe and grind my teeth every time I see it. His shirts develop ragged, stretched neck holes but he does not seem to mind.
posted by galadriel at 6:52 PM on July 29, 2015 [1 favorite]


On cereal: soup, or no?
posted by coppermoss at 7:57 PM on July 29, 2015 [4 favorites]


And she said they just put them in the rack and the soap dripped off. I still don't know if that is an Australian/non-American thing or just her.

That's an Australia/UK/Ireland and probably other places as well thing.
posted by deadwax at 8:40 PM on July 29, 2015 [1 favorite]


Paper toilet seat covers. Everywhere in the States (is there a law?) but generally lacking in Canada.

Generally lacking in the entire world would be more correct. It took me ages to figure out what those things were - still don't know why anyone would bother using one.
posted by HiroProtagonist at 9:14 PM on July 29, 2015 [2 favorites]


That's an Australia/UK/Ireland and probably other places as well thing.

Not a UK thing in my experience: my grandparents and parents always washed up with one bowl in the sink for soapy/dirty water, a second bowl on the drainer full of scalding hot rinse water, and then handing off the resulting scorching-hot items to whatever nearby child was handy for drying and putting away.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 10:21 PM on July 29, 2015 [2 favorites]




Reading this thread I went from "ah-hah, humans are so weird in our little ways" to "NO NO THAT IS WRONG NO YOU ARE WRONG AND INHUMAN BUUUUURN" - this is like nails on chalkboard thinking about how wrong some of you all are. WRONG.

I would add servants vs custodial staff. You either believe that there are People who are Servants and there are people who have jobs that involve serving other people. You can have the same situation, a live-in housekeeper/nanny, and two different approaches to how that person is valued and treated that come from a fundamental divide. It is super-weird to be talking to someone who seems perfectly chill and normal, and then realise that the other woman sitting nearby on a park bench bottle feeding a kid is their nanny who has been working since dawn and only goes home once a year because otherwise she will get "too homesick", earnestly explained to you by the person on the other side.

Also people who auto-condiment.
posted by dorothyisunderwood at 11:37 PM on July 29, 2015 [3 favorites]


UK here; soapy dishes straight on the drainer was normal when I was a kid, but I've also met people who swore by We had a deal, Kyle's parents' method. I think my ex-in-laws may have done that, though I forget. We get around it now by having a dishwasher.

Chalk me up for thoroughly soggy cereal, fries first (as hot as possible), and confusion on being served a bowl of tea in a home in France.
posted by corvine at 1:16 AM on July 30, 2015


Eggs don't need to be refrigerated unless they've been washed (though north american eggs have been).
posted by cotterpin at 1:35 AM on July 30, 2015 [2 favorites]


Books: DO YOU EVEN USE A BOOKMARK, MOTHERFUCKER??
posted by lollymccatburglar at 5:32 AM on July 30, 2015 [4 favorites]


Sorry, I guess I should elaborate. Some people use bookmarks, pieces of paper, hair ties, whatever happens to be handy, and some people just plop the book down on its open face and blithely ignore the fact that ITS SPINE IS BREAKING.
posted by lollymccatburglar at 5:34 AM on July 30, 2015 [1 favorite]


some people just plop the book down on its open face and blithely ignore the fact that ITS SPINE IS BREAKING.

Not ignore. Breaking the spine is the point. (Not for all books, and not for books that don't belong to me, but still.)

For washing dishes: sponge or dishrag. Just THINKING about a dishrag gives me the heebie-jeebies, but I have been in plenty of kitchens where it is dishrag or nothing.
posted by a fiendish thingy at 6:06 AM on July 30, 2015


I don't wish to be impertinent, but most of the answers to the question fail the OP's second condition:
(2) believes that everyone else does it that same way

It's possibly because they only become evident when someone else does something the 'wrong' way. A fairly comprehensive list of these things was made at things my girlfriend and I have argued about.
posted by tawnyportmanteau at 6:19 AM on July 30, 2015 [6 favorites]


I think I was in my mid-20s when I found out the notion of "breakfast food" is culture-specific. In the US (and the UK, as well, I think), we have this notion of "breakfast food", which is, more often than not, sweet, high-carb, and sometimes egg-involving. In the UK, they do something with beans and toast that I don't understand. But in many parts of the world, they don't do "breakfast food"; their breakfast food is pretty much the same food they eat at other meals.

(it's possible that I'm wrong on some of the details of this, so please do correct me if I'm wrong)
posted by panama joe at 6:41 AM on July 30, 2015 [1 favorite]


Or, put another way : in many non-US, non-UK countries, it seems people eat the same food for breakfast that they eat at other times of the day, if they eat breakfast at all.
posted by panama joe at 6:48 AM on July 30, 2015 [1 favorite]


Opening champagne. Never pop the cork.
This. Make sure to drape a tea towel over the bottle so that if the cork does blow out of the bottle, it won't get away. I once opened a bottle of champagne only to have the cork ricochet off the ceiling, and hit my guest square on the top of the head, leaving a red welt on her scalp. You do not want to do this.
posted by Multicellular Exothermic at 6:56 AM on July 30, 2015


This thread should be in the wiki under "things to discuss before getting married/moving in together."

Dogs: your bed or theirs?
Cats: kitchen counters or not?

What's the best way to eat Cap'n Crunch cereal?

Stoned?
posted by Room 641-A at 7:01 AM on July 30, 2015 [6 favorites]


For washing dishes: sponge or dishrag.
Or better still, a brush, although either of the above is ok if it's clean.

That's an Australia/UK/Ireland and probably other places as well thing.
I've known rinsers and non-rinsers in the UK. I associate not rinsing with being working-class, and rinsing as a middle-class thing. I rinse glasses but not plates or cutlery, and I've never tasted soap (the plate is squeaky-clean and dry, for heaven's sake - where's the soap going to be?)

Opening champagne. Never pop the cork.
Hold the cork firmly (ideally with part of your hand in front of the cork so it can't go anywhere). Twist the bottle/wiggle the cork a little to help remove it. Missing step: as the moment the cork becomes free of the bottle, press it against the top of the bottle for a couple of seconds - this allows the pressure to equalise more slowly, so there's no chance of the champagne spurting. My wife, who worked in hotels for years, taught me that one, and it works.

And yes to soggy cereal! What is wrong with people? If you want your cereal dry, why do you pour milk on it? Philistines!
posted by pipeski at 7:09 AM on July 30, 2015


What I encounter are timid drivers who wait behind the line at the green light, then go when clear, cheating one or two drivers behind them of the time to make that same left turn. Burn, burn!

This varies by state. I was taught that if you enter the intersection and an ambulance comes along, somebody will die waiting for you to wait for everyone else to get out of the way so you can get out of the way, so they can go on their way.

Don't fuck the intersection, man.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 7:12 AM on July 30, 2015 [2 favorites]


And yes to soggy cereal! What is wrong with people? If you want your cereal dry, why do you pour milk on it? Philistines!

The counter (so to speak) statement would be that if you want your cereal soggy, why not just drink a glass of milk?

There is a vast spectrum of textures available between "pile of rocks in a desert wasteland" and "swampy morass of gelatinous splooshiness".
posted by Celsius1414 at 7:16 AM on July 30, 2015 [4 favorites]


What's the best way to eat Cap'n Crunch cereal?

Stoned?


You don't know how much my worldview utterly shifted when I learned (from a stoner) that one could make the equivalent of Rice Krispie Treats with ANY CEREAL INCLUDING CAP'N CRUNCH.

I all but weeped. What a glorious day.
posted by Celsius1414 at 7:18 AM on July 30, 2015 [14 favorites]


The counter (so to speak) statement would be that if you want your cereal soggy, why not just drink a glass of milk?

Of course, if your milk has the texture of soggy cereal then it's probably gone off.
posted by the agents of KAOS at 8:01 AM on July 30, 2015 [1 favorite]


Where food gets stored, which is often traceable to where they or their parents/grandparents grew up (eg, in the tropics or not, with weevils or not). Bread/eggs/fruit/jam in the pantry or in the fridge?

And of course the eggs is a special case, being US v rest of the world for whether they have to be kept in the fridge.
posted by the agents of KAOS at 8:03 AM on July 30, 2015


I suspect that there are loads of masturbation-related practices that come under this category, but I'm not going to touch that topic--I'll let someone else handle it.
posted by dersins at 8:09 AM on July 30, 2015 [3 favorites]


You don't know how much my worldview utterly shifted when I learned (from a stoner) that one could make the equivalent of Rice Krispie Treats with ANY CEREAL INCLUDING CAP'N CRUNCH.

You are gonna love cereal milk and crack pie! (You can use CC as a shortcut. Mind the added sugar.)
posted by Room 641-A at 8:16 AM on July 30, 2015


I think the tampon-flushing thing has to do with marketing from the '90s. I remember a lot of advertisements for tampons being flushable, and I was like "oh man that's great!" ... well it turns out that they will eventually clog the plumbing, as my horrified parents found out when there was a sewage...erm...eruption in our back yard. The Roto Rooter guy very uncomfortably told us (me) that even though they say "flushable," they're really not. But there's no law against advertising something as flushable, and it's a way to sell products.
posted by radioamy at 8:38 AM on July 30, 2015


I suspect that there are loads of masturbation-related practices that come under this category, but I'm not going to touch that topic--I'll let someone else handle it.

Well, that right there defeats the whole concept of masturbation.
posted by dlugoczaj at 8:42 AM on July 30, 2015 [18 favorites]


When watching a movie with a friend who has seen it before, some folks demand to be told plot twists in advance, because they can't enjoy the story if they're too anxious, while others say, "Don't tell me! Don't tell me!" because they love being surprised.

Some think of movie-watching as a social activity. It gives everyone a topic to talk about--during the movie! Others hate that, preferring to watch movies in silence. The silent folks hate the noise the talkers make; the talkers hate being shushed.

And here's a generation-gap issue: I'm a theatre director, and a year ago, I had a show running in a small venue where the actors could easily see house. This young lady in the audience was texting through the entire show, and the actors were horrified. They kept coming backstage and complaining about her. I was pretty disgusted, too.

After the show, she sought me out. "Are you the director?" she asked.

"Yes," I said.

"Oh my God! I loved it. I was the best show I ever saw. I kept texting my friends about how awesome it was. I told all of them to come see it." We talked for a while, and she clearly had been following the play. She was able to talk intelligently about it.

I'm 50 and most of the actors were 30 or older. We don't get it. How can you watch a play and text at the same time? I will never be comfortable with it, and I will never stop thinking it's rude, but I was wrong in my assumptions that the texter wasn't engaged. She was more enthusiastic and attentive to the show than many of the people who weren't texting.

As a New Yorker and a daily subway rider, I try to take up as little space as possible. There are some assholes who put their bags on empty seats next to them, but this should only be a problem when the trains are crowded. Rationally, I can't point to a problem with using up two seats in an almost empty car. But I can't do it. I feel like I get one seat, and even if I'm alone in a car, I feel guilty when I put my stuff on the seat next to me. I've discussed this with others and found that I'm not alone.

Here's something else I was discussing lately. When I leave a building that has multiple exits, I always veer towards the least-trafficked one. To my surprise, many other people don't. They follow each other and jam up one door, even when they can see from the inside that both doors lead to the same place. But I can't claim that they're "sheeple" and I'm an individualist. My habit is just as instinctual as theirs probably is.
posted by grumblebee at 8:59 AM on July 30, 2015 [11 favorites]


Washing bras and other delicate clothing like sweaters--I was raised in a household where we meticulously used delicate bags to protect these things in the wash, then hung bras up to dry and lay sweaters flat on special racks. I did not realize until college that a lot of people don't know about delicate bags.

I am horrified by people who put underwire bras in the dryer--it bends the wires! Who wants metal fatigue in their clothing!

Also, washing delicates in a bag keeps things like bras and tights from getting wrapped around the agitator in the washer and getting wrecked, and knit things from snagging on other things.

This may come from the fact that my mom and I both have a large bra size and plus-size bras are super expensive. But still.
posted by Tesseractive at 9:49 AM on July 30, 2015 [1 favorite]


My mother taught me to wear pantyhose under my underwear, but I refuse to believe that anyone else in this world truly thinks that's a good idea, because it is so obviously not. I started wearing pantyhose over my underwear as soon as I realized it was an option. Underwear can be machine washed in warm water, while pantyhose must be gently cleansed and allowed to hang dry, so why on earth would anyone want to deliberately expose pantyhose to the most intimate part of their crotch?
posted by redsparkler at 10:05 AM on July 30, 2015


Penis beakers.
posted by xqwzts at 10:57 AM on July 30, 2015 [4 favorites]


I was gobsmacked when I rented a cabin with friends, and after dinner they just started loading dishes into the dishwasher without rinsing/washing them first. It had literally never occurred to me that pre-washing was optional. The dishes came out just as clean as pre-washed dishes.

Since then, both me and my husband (who was equally shocked/surprised) have forgone the pre-dishwasher rinse and scrub, and load directly into the machine after scraping off any big pieces into the compost bin. We occasionally have people over for dinner who watch us load the dishwasher with a look of confusion mixed with disgust--similar, I imagine, to my face during that fateful cabin trip--so it's clearly one of those things where most pre-rinsers haven't ever considered the possibility of just... not rinsing before loading the washer.
posted by iminurmefi at 11:29 AM on July 30, 2015


Brush your teeth before or after eating? I always believed in strictly after, but I have encountered the other way, and it is confusing.

Also, I'm pretty sure whether you need to rinse before loading the dishwasher depends on your dishwasher. Some kinds (older models maybe?) you actually need to do so.
posted by vibratory manner of working at 11:48 AM on July 30, 2015


some people just plop the book down on its open face and blithely ignore the fact that ITS SPINE IS BREAKING.
posted by lollymccatburglar at 8:34 AM on July 30


But if I don't break the spine, the book is a pain to read. It keeps closing by itself, it's harder to read the text closest to the binding. I spend the whole time fighting with the book. If I break the spine, I can just... read it.

I only intentionally break spines on my own books, but I do appreciate when a library book comes pre-broken. So much more satisfying a reading experience.
posted by galadriel at 11:51 AM on July 30, 2015 [8 favorites]


The only logical argument I've heard in the rinsing camp for dishwashers has more to do with how much you use it than anything dealing with how clean/not clean your dishes are going to get. If you have a low volume of dish use, and so you're only running it a once or twice a week, rinsing can be essential to keep it from smelling to high heaven every time you open it to put more dishes in.


Also you're all doing cereal wrong. Clearly you take the milk, the cereal, and the bowl out to the living room, and gradually add more milk/cereal as you eat to maintain the perfect desired level of crunchiness throughout your entire dining experience. (Also keeps the milk from getting too warm in the bowl!)
posted by mayonnaises at 12:11 PM on July 30, 2015


But if I don't break the spine, the book is a pain to read. It keeps closing by itself, it's harder to read the text closest to the binding. I spend the whole time fighting with the book. If I break the spine, I can just... read it.

Books should be loved like velveteen rabbits.
posted by maryr at 12:14 PM on July 30, 2015 [11 favorites]


While driving, late merging versus early merging. An Ask right here that ended up in the excellent book Traffic.

(Team Late Merging while Cringing and Murmuring It's Actually the Way You're Supposed To Do It, I'm Not an Asshole Please Believe Me)
posted by barchan at 12:24 PM on July 30, 2015 [7 favorites]


A biological one:

I thought that everyone breathed primarily through one nostril at a time, alternating every two hours or so. Indeed I remember working this out one day as a teenager after wondering why the nostril I was bunged up in when I had a cold used to change seemingly randomly.

For years I used to love blowing people's minds by pointing out to them that this happened (and getting them to try it by covering up one nostril at a time, at which point they'd notice their breathing felt harder through one than the other at any given moment).

Then I met my wife, on whom that trick didn't work.

It was then, on doing further research, that I discovered that the nasal cycle - i.e. the selective activation of one half of the autonomic nervous system by the hypothalamus - is very comment but not, in fact, universal.
posted by garius at 12:39 PM on July 30, 2015 [4 favorites]


...and then there are those of us who primarily breathe through our mouths...

(Throughout my formative years, I had a perpetually stuffy nose due to allergies. Breathing through my nose literally wasn't possible.)

That "mouthbreather" is an insult is not one of my favorite things.
posted by Shmuel510 at 12:49 PM on July 30, 2015 [4 favorites]


Books: DO YOU EVEN USE A BOOKMARK, MOTHERFUCKER??

I do not. My reasoning, which I believe to be solid, but which drove my ex batty (not the only thing, you might correctly surmise) is that if you can't find the place in your book by remembering roughly where you were, then flipping through to find the last bit you actually remember reading, then obviously you need to re-read those bits anyway, and the actual point you left off at is irrelevant. The quick refresher you get thumbing through to find your last-recognized-position works as a good "Previously On: This Book", too.
posted by Jon Mitchell at 3:42 PM on July 30, 2015 [19 favorites]


Incredulously, I learned (too late, we were already married) that my partner always twists twist ties to the left to tighten them, as if they were some sort of left-handed thread (normally marked with a notch around the tightened thing). If you can believe it, I have accepted this abnormal state of affairs and just know when I am unpacking groceries that they are all wrong. I don't even sigh anymore.
posted by Mei's lost sandal at 7:00 PM on July 30, 2015


There's only http://2kindsofpeople.tumblr.com/
posted by knoxg at 7:43 PM on July 30, 2015 [1 favorite]


Up until I met my wife, I assumed that with a peanutbutter and jelly sammie, you put the peanut butter on one side and the jelly on the other side then take the peanut butter side and place it on top of the jelly side.

But no, she actually spread the jelly over the peanut butter. Wha? The jelly does not spread evenly.
posted by AugustWest at 8:14 PM on July 30, 2015 [2 favorites]


Another variation is do you eat all of your least-favourite thing first to get it over with, leaving only foods you like?

A friend of mine got into trouble with that going to dinner at his ex-girlfriend's parents house for the first time. He tends to eat his least favourite foods first, they eat their most liked foods first, so kept refilling his plate, he was too polite to refuse.
posted by MartinWisse at 11:02 PM on July 30, 2015 [7 favorites]


Washing machines in some countries have a soak cycle for those that believe soaking is a hugely useful step in clotheswashing. The machine manufacturers find this slightly irritating, but would rather sell washing machines than engage in a reeducation campaign.

My younger cat believes that paper towel rolls are some sort of fierce but delectable prey-species and hunts them at every opportunity.
posted by sebastienbailard at 11:55 PM on July 30, 2015


The Japanese are lefty tightie, righty loosie. I bought a water filled calligraphy brush that screws backwards, then I bought a garden hose, same thing. The typical wastern way of screwing is changing.
posted by Oyéah at 6:30 on July 27


Hilariously, this is an excellent example of assuming from two data points that something is universal! Pentel deliberately has reverse-threaded calligraphy brushes, yes, and the garden hose thing may also be reverse-threaded, but as someone who's lived in Japan for seven years now, I can assure you that these are very rare exceptions (and, occasionally, you'll come across reverse-threaded Ramune bottles). My guess is that reverse-threaded things are things that aren't meant to be opened on a regular basis, so they're reverse-threaded to make it harder, or something like that. They're definitely super rare either way.

Garden hose stuff in Japan is usually not threaded at all (i.e. the rubber hose just sort of stops, like someone just cut it off with a knife), in fact.
posted by DoctorFedora at 11:55 PM on July 30, 2015 [2 favorites]


Does anybody regularly pop champagne corks though? I thought it was just film/tv shorthand for "crazy party/shameful excess".
posted by Dr Dracator at 2:18 AM on July 31, 2015


That might be one of those things where life imitates art, and people do it because they just sort of think it's normal.
posted by DoctorFedora at 2:34 AM on July 31, 2015


I think Australian attitudes towards water as a scarce resource might be a factor in the rinsing/straight into the drying rack schism. Americans talk about being disturbed by the thought of soap residue. I'm queasy at the thought of using all that extra water.

Along similar lines: washing the car with a hose vs bucket and sponge.

Spreading the butter/spread right to the edges of the bread, vs leaving a border. Similarly, whether you put both butter and a spread on, or just the spread, and a whole spectrum of buttering for some spreads but not others.

Having a baby has opened up a whole new world of seemingly innocuous choices that people react to with shock, condescension and sometimes outright hostility. I'm not even talking about the big ones, but little things. For example, we didn't decorate a nursery yet because the SIDS guidelines recommend the baby sleep in the same room as the parents for 6-12 months, and we didn't want to give up a room for that long while she wasn't using it. My experience with online mothers groups is that this is relatively common- about a quarter opt out. But we've had people in real life react as if we announced we plan to keep the baby in a cupboard under the stairs.
posted by PercyByssheShelley at 2:55 AM on July 31, 2015 [1 favorite]


Using blankets to regulate temperature vs. sweaters or adjusting the thermostat. My wife is a Midwesterner and has introduced blankets as a downstairs, not-just-on-the-bed thing in our home. In my family, getting under a blanket on the couch was reserved for sick days home from school.

Folding t-shirts, polo shirts in half vertically, then horizontally (how my wife does it) vs. folding shirts so the creases are just at the shoulders.
posted by emelenjr at 3:30 AM on July 31, 2015


Does anybody regularly pop champagne corks though?

Last time I tasted champagne the guy who opened it was from Champagne, and he took careful aim and deliberately fired the cork into the next room where it bounced off the wall and startled the cats. No idea if he would do that regularly or when at home, but it's apparently not forbidden by sacred tradition or anything.
posted by sfenders at 3:41 AM on July 31, 2015 [3 favorites]


Ice to the top of the glass vs just a few cubes (this is a regional thing, for sure).

If it's OK to leave the car running and under what circumstances (I don't even like to have the car running if we're stopped in a parking space, the idea that the driver might actually get out while the car is running doesn't even come into it). (Spinoff of the thread about tweens left in the car.)

Something to add to the "I can't believe my SO does that": Leaving the water running in the shower to warm up for a super long time, he actually comes out of the bathroom and plays games on his phone with the water running instead of standing there constantly checking if it is warm. I would have been severely spanked if my family ever caught me doing that.

Degree of knowledge and belief. These are so in our own heads that it can be hard to comprehend that other people are different. I had an English professor who took points off for spelling mistakes because "you should proofread your papers". My problem isn't with proofreading, it's because I honestly think some words are spelled in ways which they aren't. I wish I could have gotten her into a math class, now who's just not paying attention?
posted by anaelith at 6:00 AM on July 31, 2015


I have a crappy dishwasher, the kind that hooks up to the sink faucet; if I don't thoroughly rinse my dishes, they'll come out with bits of rice and grit stuck to them. Plus, I'm single, so dishes can sit in the dishwasher for several days between washes. I'd prefer not to rinse, but, sadly, that isn't really an option.

Flossing before brushing or vice versa was a relationship issue once. Remove the bits of food stuck between the teeth first, for more effective brushing? Or let the toothbrush do the heavy work, then go back and floss to get the remainders? My girlfriend actually asked her dentist, who said it didn't really matter.
posted by MrMoonPie at 6:45 AM on July 31, 2015


Oh, a laundry one. I start the washer, add detergent, then toss in my clothes without waiting for the tub to fill, figuring the agitation will mix everything up adequately. My girlfriend lets the washer fill completely before adding her clothes, since she believes that allows for more even soap distribution.
posted by MrMoonPie at 6:47 AM on July 31, 2015


Two from my "I can't believe how wrong my spouse is" file: 1) When eating string cheese, do you peel away string by delightful string, or just chomp it down like some soulless joy-hating beast? 2) Is Frank Sinatra referring to 'New York (city), New York (state)' or city-city?
posted by DingoMutt at 5:29 PM on July 31, 2015 [1 favorite]


The reason you eat your fries first is that if you don't, the other people at your table who ate their fries first will move in on yours like sharks to chum. Because otherwise pleasant dining companions turn into animals around fries.
posted by gingerest at 8:02 PM on July 31, 2015 [4 favorites]


Oh, a laundry one. I start the washer, add detergent, then toss in my clothes without waiting for the tub to fill, figuring the agitation will mix everything up adequately. My girlfriend lets the washer fill completely before adding her clothes, since she believes that allows for more even soap distribution.

::boggles:: One puts in one's clothes first, then soap, then closes the lid and starts the machine, perhaps adding another item if found during the filling cycle.

It is known.
posted by DebetEsse at 10:19 PM on July 31, 2015 [10 favorites]


I've always put the detergent in first, then the clothes, then started the washer, with the assumption that having the detergent at the bottom will allow it to mix more thoroughly as the tub fills with water.
posted by Aleyn at 7:10 AM on August 1, 2015


MrMoonPie, does your GF then submerge each piece of clothing or let the agitator pull the clothes in?
posted by Room 641-A at 7:17 AM on August 1, 2015


you can fold/roll/whatever the T-shirt in whatever side-out condition you find it and then don it if it happens to be inside out by inserting your head in the neck hole and turning the shirt rightside out as you put it on. I think this may be rare because most people exclaim when they see me doing it.

I do this, and my god does it ever weird people out when they witness it. Some of those same people believe that a plate of iceberg lettuce covered in Thousand Island dressing can legitimately be called a salad. On the midway of wrongness, they're the ones that just won a giant stuffed derpy looking tiger.
posted by palomar at 9:02 AM on August 1, 2015 [1 favorite]


I think discovering different attitudes to clothes dryers / clotheslines was probably the alarming one for me, but it's more of an international distinction one than a person-to-person one. Here, in Australia, wet clothes, by default, go outside on the clothesline where the free warm energy of the sun can dry them. Every house has a clothes line. Flats and apartments have them, even if they're only small fold-away ones on a balcony. The clothes dryer is just for particularly cold, rainy days (after all, it shrinks clothes, and uses a horrendous amount of electricity). I was shocked to discover that in much of the US, the clothes dryer is the default, and outdoor clotheslines are actually banned in some places because they decrease property values or something.
posted by Jimbob at 10:59 PM on August 1, 2015 [5 favorites]


Making the bed vs. not making the bed. I didn't realise the second was even an option until recently when I started reading Unfuck Your Habitat with its "Reasons to Make Your Bed" posts, and even then I didn't quite believe anyone would really leave their bed unmade all day (doesn't that make it cold and wrinkly in the evening?) until I met someone whose morning routine didn't include pulling up the covers and straightening them out.
posted by Rissa at 12:47 PM on August 2, 2015 [1 favorite]


such as the ability to effortlessly dispense one Tic Tac from a box because of the box design

You'll pry my handful of orange* Tic Tacs from my cold dead hands. People eat them one at a time?

Regarding pasta: "You must put oil in the pasta water" vs. "No, you don't need to."

On that note: putting the pasta into a tomato-based sauce while nicely al dente so it can absorb some of the sauce vs. dumping the sauce over a plate of the pasta.

Pasta in the sauce to absorb, please, then serve. YMMV.

* Orange Tic Tacs are white here in Canada, but packaged in an orange-tinted container.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 3:56 PM on August 2, 2015 [1 favorite]


...one could make the equivalent of Rice Krispie Treats with ANY CEREAL INCLUDING CAP'N CRUNCH.

I just tried this. The result was gloriously decadent. For this alone, Celsius1414 may be my favorite MeFite of all time.
posted by ogooglebar at 8:55 PM on August 2, 2015 [6 favorites]


I live in the Philippines but I'm from Australia, I have a mountain of these but the one that springs to mind is changing lanes. Here, driving instructors will teach people to slow down while changing lanes. Everyone does it here. It did my head in for a long time.

Also related to changing lanes, no need to check or even indicate that you are changing lanes, as people will just honk their horn if they are there and you are going to hit them. There's a lot of honking going on here.
posted by Admira at 1:31 AM on August 3, 2015 [1 favorite]


The clothes dryer is just for particularly cold, rainy days (after all, it shrinks clothes, and uses a horrendous amount of electricity). I was shocked to discover that in much of the US, the clothes dryer is the default, and outdoor clotheslines are actually banned in some places because they decrease property values or something.

1. There are many places in the U.S. where you would have to wait a while for a sunny day, even in the summer. We had a particularly rainy start to our summer in southwestern Ohio and there were several weeks where it rained, heavily, every single day, sometimes all day long.

2. If I had to rely on the out-of-doors to dry my clothes, I would be a snotty, sneezy mess all the time. My allergies are severe, and the pollen here makes white cars look yellowish. I can't imagine what it would do to my clothing.
posted by cooker girl at 7:20 AM on August 5, 2015


yea we diligently tried the outdoors clothesline thing for a summer here in Boulder, Colorado (300 sunny days a year!) because we are cheap hippies with a backyard and no HOA to scold us.

it merely made us intensely sad and grumpy because:

1) monsoon season, where it thunderstorms like clockwork every day at 3PM
2) bird shit
3) cottonwood fluff, man that shit gets into EVERY. THING.
posted by lonefrontranger at 1:30 PM on August 5, 2015


Making the bed vs. not making the bed.

The mattress loads up with sweat through the night. If you fold all the bedclothes but the topsheet down, it gives that water a chance to evaporate. Leaving the topsheet stretched out over the bed makes it look tidy.

I thought it was pretty obvious that you cut an avocado in half length-wise (from top to bottom), then removed the pit, then scooped or cut out the delicious fattening flesh until I recently asked a friend to start making guacamole and she cut in half around the center.

The two different ways to eat an avocado are 1: slice the avocado in half length-wise, and then flick the belly of the knife-blade at the seed and then pop it out, or 2: slice in half, then attack the pit with the tip of the blade, skipping off the seed and puncturing your hand.
posted by sebastienbailard at 12:54 AM on August 6, 2015 [1 favorite]


Once upon a time I thought you had to peel the avocado first, and this gave me terrible trouble. When someone showed me the slice-in-half-lengthways thing, I was amazed. Method demonstrated on the pip was to whack the knife edge into it side on, partially embedding the knife in the pip, then lifting out the pip. After removing the pip from the blade, you can then use the knife tip to cut the flesh into slices/cubes/whatever shape is desired (or not, if you don't want slices). Use a spoon to scoop it all out of the rind at once, leaving the slices intact.

Seriously, it was like a minor miracle.
posted by Athanassiel at 1:09 AM on August 6, 2015 [1 favorite]


Don't get too cocky re: avocados. Before the doing it wrong Ask, I did not think to halve the avocado first. Instead, I tried to peel it with my fingers like an orange, resulting in unattractive and unnecessary finger-grooves in the avocado flesh. THEN, once it was bare, I would try to halve it and/or gouge out the pit, and then do with the remaining flesh what I was able.

The idea that you could cut it in half, get out the pit, and then carve out the fruit with a spoon in one fell swoop was a revelation unrivaled by anything else I have hitherto experienced.
posted by coppermoss at 11:23 PM on August 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


In my family, when you drank out of a cup or a glass, that was your cup or glass for the day and you kept using it until someone washed up. It used to drive me crazy when I moved in with someone who used a clean glass or cup every time they took a drink.

In Japan, handkerchiefs are for wiping your hands, not for blowing your nose.

Tucking in the sides of the bedsheets vs just tucking the bottom.

Making the bed by pulling the duvet up to cover the whole bed vs making the bed by folding the duvet into a neat square.

When hanging clothes out on a clothes line, pegging pants by the waistband or by the cuffs, and pegging shirts by the hem vs the shoulder seams.
posted by girlgenius at 4:27 AM on August 12, 2015


I had a mini freakout watching my coworker put on his cold weather gear before leaving the office last winter. He put his down vest on under his coat!!!!!!!
posted by anaelith at 4:46 AM on August 12, 2015


Books should be loved like velveteen rabbits.

Burned to prevent the spread of disease?
posted by leotrotsky at 4:45 PM on August 12, 2015 [10 favorites]


That depends, how much have you been drooling on your books?
posted by maryr at 12:40 PM on August 13, 2015


« Older How to be sexy?   |   Can you help me find resources for journalists? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.