This is a love letter to my Americans.
La’ve never lived here, only visited, but about 30 times. Have only been to about six states, almost exclusively blue ones.
But this isn’t a political bloggy, or a race bloggy, or a guns bloggy or even – much more trivially – a tipping bloggy.
It’s about the incredible generosity and hospitality with which this country has always welcomed me on each of those 30-odd visits. (And let’s disclaim that: white, English-speaking, not poor, not trying to stay.)
La may have los rose-coloured specs on, sitting atop a Colorado mountain with John Denver songs earwigging through la brain, but here are just a few reasons I love this country.
First up: the sustenance. Yes, we heap scorn on American portion sizes, but there’s something about them that says, “We want you to be satisfied, to leave here feeling happy, to want for nothing, to want to come back.” I’ve never had to ask for water. I’ve never had to ask for my wine glass to be refilled. I’ve never been denied an off-menu cocktail order. Dietary constraints have been dealt with faultlessly and without fuss.
Second up: the focus on the customer. Or rather, the person.
I’ve never left an American restaurant feeling like someone viewed it as a chore to serve me. (Tips work, but it’s about more than that.) I’ve left many an Australian and English restaurant feeling that way.
This morning we rocked up for a loin fruit snowboarding lesson, and where should have stood a boarding instructor, there stood a ski instructor. A rapid ferret through my emails unearthed proof that it was not my mistake. I bristled and squared my shoulders, ready for a “not-my-bad” fight. (I feel like, in my real life, I menace-up for so many of these battles with people to whom I’m giving my hard-earned shekels.) No need. The man in charge said, “Our mistake, we’ll have a snowboarding instructor out here momentarily.” And right he was: within four minutes, Ed from Kentucky emerged, 6’5″ of him, face like a handsome moose, all loose limbs and teeth and fist bumps for the star-struck child. We loved him immediately.
Yesterday I fell badly in the street. Cut my hand, almost smashed the back of my head on the well-heeled Aspen sidewalk. Hurt my shoulder preventing this. No-one was around, no-one saw. But I wandered into the nearest shop and the kind women (young, young) sat me down, patched me up and offered to call someone. Once, I slid arse over turkey in the middle of George Street at lunchtime and no-one, not a soul, helped me. (I know – a one-off, not representative, my experience blah blah. But this is a bloggy about me. MEEEEEEEE. That’s why I have one.)
(Just a free, random, thoughtful selection of personal hygiene products in the ladies’ toilet at the top of a mountain.)
My irrational fear of chairlifts springs from the time a few years ago when I miscalculated my dismount and fell off, face-planting in the powder. What did the two Swiss lift attendants do? They LAUGHED. Yup. Today two handsome, white-choppered, cornfed youths each took one of my arms and gently escorted me off the lift, then implored me to “Have a nice day”. Quite the contrast.
And third up, the people. Polite to a fault, manners for miles, eager to please, smiling, welcoming, open. Curious. Proud of their beautiful country and so very happy to share it.
Let’s face it – it’s a tough time in history to be an American abroad. (For many too it’s probably a tough time to be an American at home.) Many of my much-loved yankeedoodle friends living in Australia regularly field loaded questions about issues they’ve played no part in bringing about. They are asked to explain and apologise for a gun culture and a loser president, neither of which they support. They have to endure all sorts of casual put-downs of their homeland and their compatriots. And they do it with the good grace and manners I know to be a hallmark of their upbringing.
Visiting this county this time has made me appreciate my beautiful American friends, the ones here and the ones abroad, even more. You know who you are.
Have a nice day.