Well, we all know that in all countries there are plenty of people that are decidedly un-friendly, but from the point of view of a tourist, I can confirm that – along with Australia – Amercians are friendly, cheerful and polite.
I suppose because we live in Europe – and thence spend most of the year in Europe – it particularly strikes us when we come to America. The Bulgarians are very grumpy and rude people, I suppose because of their pre-Cold War heritage. The Swedish can be dour people. The English are generally pleasant and fairly easy to get talking to but there is nothing quite as dreadful as the British drunk when he is abroad. Italians are also friendly and cheerful but what mad and noisy drivers! The French know nothing – but nothing! – about good customer service, so I do appreciate it when we come to the USA.
I had three nice experiences yesterday. The first was in a self-service cafe I returned my salad because it was altogether stale and tasteless. There was no hesitation in taking it back, and this was done with a smile and a little joke. This would be highly questionable in France and the waitress would for some reason take it as a personal insult. The worst salad I have ever had was in Croatia and I was asked what the hell was the matter with it and what did I expect anyway?
The second was in MacDonald’s … no, no, we did not go in to MacDonald’s too eat! Don’t worry so much! I popped in to find out if there was some way I could get a taxi. Bruce stayed out on the pavement in order to hail one if one went by.
“Jeez ma’am,” said the excessively over-weight MacDonald man, “he ain’t gonna git no taxi like that! He’ll git mugged, sure, but he won’t git no taxi!”
And he dug out his phone and tried to find one for us. Unsuccessful but he tried.
And the third was after dinner when we once again attempted to get a taxi. Apparently taxis are few and far between in this part of Houston – League City. Our phone wouldn’t work so I stopped a young couple with a little girl. She dialled a number and loaned me her phone. I asked the taxi to pick us up at such-and-such a point and told him where we needed to go. Thank-you so much we said as I handed the phone back to the young mum. You’re welcome she said and off they went. And we waited. Then we waited a bit more. And some more. After about an hour a car pulled up, and the same young mother leaned out:-
“We guessed y’all would still be here!” she exclaimed, “so we came to look! You just hop right on in and we’ll take you to your hotel.”
They did tell us their names but I have forgotten already. The little girl was Ella. I do hope they read this. I promised to send Ella my “Baby Black Rabbit” books and I will.
Catherine Broughton is a novelist, an author, a poet and an artist. Her books are on Amazon and Kindle. More about her and her work on http://www.turquoisemoon.co.uk