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God Save America

May 29, 2010

I was once asked to write an article for a blog regarding a heated discussion about “Are Americans stupid or aren’t they?”:

The problem with stereotyping is that it is never valid for a whole nation, townsfolk or ethnic group but it does fit its majority rather snugly. So not all Englishmen are polite, have a great sense of humour and are wearing an umbrella, not all Frenchmen are rude or are dedicated to le joie de vivre and are carrying a flûte de baguette under their collective arm, not all Germans are … whatever they are and definitively not all Americans are rude, obnoxious, loud, fat and stupid. But some really are.

I experienced an American woman being extremely … let’s say overenthusiastic towards a barman in England, because she ordered a soda and he brought – what the ignorant English as well as the other nasty Europeans call a soda – a carbonated water.

Another American traveller whilst wearing a stetson was shouting for some time at a more and more intimidated looking receptionist in Germany: “Why don’t you people have the same (computer) keyboards as we have?” An American friend of mine who was standing next to me just rolled his eyes with disgust, walked over to his countryman and said: “Stop making a scene for god’s sake. By the way computers were invented in Germany!” He got a very big and grateful smile from the receptionist for that.

A very good friend of mine from Germany once lived for some time as an au pair in the south of the US. The lady of the house once took her for a shopping spree to the next and obviously well-to-do small town where most parking spaces were littered by BMWs, Mercedes and Porsches. Madam then asked my friend: “Do you have cars like these in Germany?”

I have actually plenty of similar anecdotes about our dear friends from across the water. However it must be said, all tourists can be quite annoying, ask the French about the Germans, the Spanish about the British, ask everyone about Japanese travel groups or nouveaux-riches Russians but there really is no tourist like the American tourist. They from time to time can be even extremely nice and easy going and charmingly excited by everything they see in Ye Olde Worlde but mostly they are typically American.

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