In America we believe that anyone can grow up to president – or a carpenter, a kindergarten teacher, a porn star or a nuclear physicist. (Someday I’m going to write a story about the woman I knew who was two of those, and a man I knew who was the other two.) In America we proudly protect the small freedoms as well. Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness means people can speak loudly in stores, ignore the fact that most of the world’s population speaks a language other than English, or complain that there’s no where to get decent pizza outside New Jersey. In other words, in America, we believe that everyone has the right to be a jerk.
So why do so many people think the rules ought to change when Americans travel to other countries? I’m not talking about breaking local laws or disrespecting cultural traditions or religions, I’m talking about the right to be ignorant, loud, overweight or poorly dressed. I’m talking about the right to be a jerk.
- If I want to announce that the immigration lines move much faster at JFK, I can (they don’t).
- If I want to declare, at any volume, that the Frick Museum in New York is better, I can (it is).
- If I want to tell everyone that the problem with foreign food is all the weird spices, like garlic and oregano, oh wait – that was a Brit, never mind.
- don’t say “how much is that in real money”
- don’t wear baseball caps or sneakers with socks
- learn to say please, thank you, and count to ten in the local language
- don’t tell everyone you meet how it’s so much better in America and if only the locals would …