It’s always dangerous to engage in stereotypes, but there’s usually a lot of truth in those stereotypes, confusing as they may be at times. For example, at the same time many foreigners complain about the “loud, ugly American” when we visit their countries, they also complain that we’re way too friendly to them when they visit here.
Yes, in their eyes, we’re way too friendly. (If you’re like me, this makes no sense at all, but I’ll try to explain it below.)
This isn’t an imaginary projection that I’ve placed upon Western European travelers visiting America, like I made this stuff up just for the sake of this story. There are literally hundreds of articulate and professionally produced YouTube travel videos coming from all corners of the earth, and the 99.9% consensus of first-time European travelers (mostly Western European) who have visited the states say the exact same thing, that they’re very uncomfortable with the openness and warmth of the typical American.
However, after being here for a while, thinking about it for a bit, after getting used to it, almost all eventually conclude that, “It may bother some of us first visiting America, but I think it’s kind of nice!”
What kind of cultural upbringing, what kind of history, would predispose someone towards negative feelings related to basic friendliness and good cheer? The answer? They just don’t trust us. And they don’t trust each other in their home countries.
They’re not only uncomfortable with the friendly shopkeeper here asking “How are you doing!?” when you first enter the store, even though that’s a simple courtesy of the retail business in the U.S. (supposedly British shopkeepers treat their customers like shit), they’re also uncomfortable with anyone asking about their wellness, because in their view, why should this person give a crap about me anyway? They’re just being phony. They don’t mean it. They don’t really care about me.
In a way they may be right, that we don’t totally care, but we care enough to ask in the first place, and we sure care enough to want to open our hearts and arms to those we first meet to make them feel welcome, safe and loved while they visit our country. Even total strangers, and those who haven’t yet learned to appreciate the effort and sincerity behind our efforts, and the very basis of our American spirit.
Interestingly, the two other major areas of “complaint” about America from Western European tourists (the women) is that many of our toilet stalls have a little gap in the door so they can be seen sitting there, and the other complaint?
Too many American flags all over the place, as if patriotism and loving your country is a bad thing.
I applaud and welcome those who want to visit this magnificent country of ours. You are welcome here! We will continue to demonstrate our love and patriotism. That’s not changing one little bit.
But maybe we’ll fix those toilets for you.