. It’s a tricky time to be an American traveling abroad –although we tried to be good “ambassadors” for our country. In general we avoided bringing up politics, but quite often Europeans, Canadians, Australians, etc. would ask us. We learned to reply, “Why, what’s your impression?” It was generally not too favorable – and more than one asked, “Is it your electoral system that’s the problem?” Unfortunately, we did encounter some “Ugly Americans” – and I’m sorry to say I wasn’t better at responding. One man, seated at our dinner table, asked where we were from – Massachusetts. “Oh, you’re from the land of Pocahontas and all her braves.” No matter how we might feel about EW (mixed), it was such a disrespectful thing to say: to us, to EW, and to Native Americans. The other time, I was sitting with a woman (I’ll call her Marisol); she was from Brooklyn. A couple sat across from us, introducing themselves, from Florida, I think, and wanted to know where we were from. Marisol answered, “New York,”, but the man said, “No, where you’re really from, your family.” She said, “Well, originally Puerto Rico.” So, he says, “You know the old joke about Puerto Rico, right? A man says to his wife, ‘let’s go to Puerto Rico.’ And she says, “Why, we don’t know anyone there.’ And he says, “We can visit all our old hub-caps.” End of joke. Marisol didn’t get it, at first. But I did; then I saw it dawn on her face. I’m sorry now I didn’t say, “That’s inappropriate and not appreciated.” I guess they could tell it didn’t go over well, and they soon left. Then I did say to “Marisol”, “I’m sorry he said that; it was stupid and offensive.” Too late. So, that’s freedom for you, for some people: the freedom to show disrespect anywhere, anytime. But it’s not pretty. And it’s not anyone I want to sit next to, thanks very much.
Author: Erin L. McCormack - ELM, get it? All about the trees....