Tuesday, February 8, 2011

A pox on you, Rachel

I’ve heard of Americans pretending to be Canadians while abroad before. They pull on the sheep’s clothing over the wolf of their national reputation in order to not get judged as jerks before they even open their mouths. The stories of loud, obnoxious Americans tourists are legion. It’s as much a part of their national stereotype as “eh” and donuts is for us.
Like many stereotypes, there is a kernel of truth at its heart. Even if statistically only one out of every ten Americans that travel ends up being a dick, that’s the one you’re going to remember. After a few years of encountering tourists, the conclusion becomes a false “All Americans are A-holes.”
I worked in the hospitality industry for a few years and I reached that conclusion myself, even though I know that intellectually it’s wrong. But the men that made the biggest stinks over the hours the pool was open and the women who freaked out over the colour of the carpet had, time and time again, American addresses. By far the most annoying quirk that they evidence is a stupefying belief that their currency should be accepted everywhere like its an American Express card. They assumed their American dollars were not only just as good as the local flavour, but better, as they were always upset by the pathetic exchange rate they can receive over the counter (we're not a currency exchange, goober). If you won’t take their money, they get either angry or are honestly puzzled, as though the concept that a sovereign nation other than America would have the gall to print their own money is just too alien. (When you travel, get some local money! Everyone knows this!)
Tirade aside, my point is that I understand why a tourist would discard their usual love of country and adopt the guise of a humbler land. They want to avoid being served a spit-burger from some narrow-minded ass like myself. It’s a compliment in a way. The world likes us better, but can’t really tell the difference between us, so you pretend to be us. Thanks.
Then tonight I saw an American on TV who explained that she also pretended to be a Canadian while traveling. Aw, that’s sweet, I thought, until she went on. She doesn’t do it so that she’ll be treated better. Oh, no. She does it when she knows she’s acting like a jerk because she figures Canada deserves to get its reputation tarnished! She doesn’t want to add to the lexicon of obnoxious Americans, patriot that she is. America's reputation isn't deserved, she claims with perfect hypocrisy as she then goes on to embody the very reputation she decries as unfair. Classic.
Instead of being polite, though, she just keeps right on being obnoxious and then lumps it all on Canada’s doorstep. That is so... so American! Gah! Infuriating.
So if you encounter a fat, red-headed woman named Rachel, and she’s being a real A-hole but claims to be Canadian, quiz her a little. What’s our capital city? How many provinces do we have, how many territories? What’s our population? And if she can’t answer those questions, I beg you: spit in her burger.
And sneeze on her poutine.

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