In Canada we use kilometers for highways and liters for gasoline and milk. Coffee is sold in 907 gram cans and butter is sold in 454 gram packages. I've never met anybody who knew how tall they were in metric.
“Maturity, one discovers, has everything to do with the acceptance of ‘not knowing.” -- Mark Z. Danielewski, House of Leaves
But whenever I see a cursive capital "L", am I supposed to always interpret that as centiliters? And in which countries would that apply and not apply?
In Canada we have been "converting to metric" for more than forty years and, generally, nobody uses it. Recently, in a discussion about the metric system, I asked a 22-year-old how tall he was. He answered, "Six feet."
We buy gasoline by the liter because that's how it's taxed. We buy milk by the liter because it's supply-managed (remember NAFTA?) But we by liquor in 26-ounce and 40-ounce bottles (even if the metric equivalent is also marked on them). We buy meat and butter by the pound. We buy coffee by the 2-pound can. We weigh ourselves in pounds and measure ourselves in feet and inches.
The first time I ever heard the term "centiliters" was in your post. (I have heard that beer is sold wholesale by the hectoliter, which is about a keg.) Our beer bottles are labelled in ounces and milliliters. I doubt if you could find one Canadian in a thousand who could tell you the metric size of a shot glass.
"If you can keep your head when all about you Are losing theirs and blaming it on you...." -- Rudyard Kipling
A funny story from the late 1970's. During that time, the rising cost of oil was causing the price of gasoline to increase, rapidly approaching a dollar a gallon. The reason why this was such a big problem was because most gas stations still used mechanical pumps in which you could change the price per gallon but the upper limit was 99.99 cents. When they were designed, the possibility of gas costing a dollar or more per gallon was inconceivable.
Been there, done that.
1977. Boston Bar, British Columbia, in the Fraser Canyon. They were selling gas by the half-gallon, for 50.9 cents.
In Canada, we solved the problem by switching to liters. Today the price is just over a dollar per liter, so the electronic pumps were a good idea too.
"I've been to Moose Jaw, now I can die." -- John Wing