Is the collocation "the usual thing" correct?
"I saw his wide scared eyes darkening as he saw me. “The usual thing” I thought. People did not expect a young woman be able to rescue someone in war."
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'The usual thing' is certainly a correct phrase
Your use of it is perhaps slightly non-standard, as you are using it quite informally where it tends to be a phrase used in fairly formal spoken English.
A man in a skirt, dear, it's just not the usual thing.
I'd probably expect to see the word typical in your sentence, as being more 'the usual thing' in speech.
'Typical' I thought....
However, as a native reader I instantly understood what you meant, it flowed and seemed fairly natural, and if I hadn't been on ELL.SE (and therefore looking for English Language issues) I doubt I would have even noticed it.
Or in short, I don't think I've even that phrase used like that very often, but it's certainly not wrong and wouldn't likely be remarked upon unless the speaker in your dialogue is generally informal, in which case this slip into formal may be noticed