I like Americans.
I like them and it’s not just because my husband was born in New York City. It’s easy to bash the land of the free, home of the brave and I find myself eye-rolling at most of their politicians and a lot of their policies at state and federal levels. (How can people like Michelle Bachmann even be considered a person you would want to run your country?! I mean, Harper’s not great but he’s not that much of a nut job). But at a personal level – the folks you meet on the street – Americans are pretty darn awesome people.
Have you read Geoff Dyer (the Brit) on Americans? I don’t think my take on the U S of A is quite the same as his, but one of the things I have always loved about travelling to the States is the service industry. (I also love the US Postal Service, booze in Costco, and a whole whack of their geography).
Here’s what Dyer says about American service:
Americans are friendly. It’s not just friendliness, it is some sort of daily manifestation of American democratic principles. The first time I heard the expression “You’re welcome” was in America. I really noticed the transaction being wrapped up in a nice social exchange. You can’t help but notice the way that social ripples––friendly, American ripples––extend way beyond the immediate interaction that created them. I’d go for that “have a nice day” superficial friendliness over deep-seated English hostility any day of the week.
I would go even further than Dyer to say that I don’t even find the American “have a nice day” friendliness to be superficial. Most of the time – it’s real. And if the English offer up “deep seated hostility” I’d say that Canadians present a politeness that couches smug self-righteousness.
I think Canadians possess all sorts of other fab national qualities, but the service industry and friendliness just aren’t one of them.