Monday, October 20, 2014

Foreign Correspondence

Foreigners. What do they know?
Well, for one, they know a foreign language. So they've got that going for them. They are also acutely aware of just how creepy we Americans are. For example, there is the simple conversational move of saying, "pardon me" before asking a simple question. What's the big deal? Do you have the time? I'm just looking for a little information here.
Well, if you're not from these shores, you may have missed that little piece of polite interaction that allows us to intrude into someone else's day only with a mild apology for interrupting whatever reverie they might be enjoying. "Pardon me, do you have the time?" It suggests that we, as the interrogator are asking a favor, since it is not the rest of the world's responsibility to keep us informed of the time. It also puts wiseacres like myself in the position of simply answering, "Yes," and walking away. We could be asking for just a moment out of their day, but it is still their day. It is not a huge intrusion, but we're not doing anyone a favor by asking them for bits of information that could be gleaned from the watch around your wrist or the phone in your pocket. If only you hadn't forgotten both of them in your mad dash to get out of the house that morning.
Still, there's a time and a place for civility, which sounds a lot like civilization, which is what America is still busy creating. European cultures have been steeping in their own juices since before we were busy wiping out the native population of this continent. A lot of us came here from Europe, but apparently we left our manners back home.
Or maybe it's just the arrogance that comes from being in first place. When you're a Super Power, you don't have to say you're sorry. Or excuse me. Or even thank you. Everybody knows it's your planet, and the rest of us are just here to roll our collective eyes at you. This might also explain our cuisine. Cheez-Whiz means never having to say your sorry. I looked it up.

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