If your knowledge of Americans is mainly based on CNN and action movies, you’d think that they were paranoid, agressive and smug. Luckily, I’ve been able to travel all over the US and meet these people face to face. The one thing I can say about Americans is that they’re nice.
“Nice” is a namby-pamby word but it’s the best that I can come with. They’re basically kind, helpful and easy to get along with. They love their family, country and God – not necessarily in that order. They’re a proud nation and, yes, they have a measure of ignorance about anything that happens outside their borders. Once you learn not to talk world politics, or local for that matter, you don’t have any problem. In some respects they’re like children with a naive trust in their leaders.
The most remarkable thing about Americans is that no one lives or works where they were born. You’re likely to be served in a Texas resturant by someone who was born in Oregon. They love to move around and I think that comes from their college and university system where your chosen education path requires you to go out of state or across the country. It’s not a bad thing.
I mentioned that I’ve learned not to bring up politics but that doesn’t mean that they won’t. My co-worker struck up a conversation with a fellow traveller in Washington (Americans will talk to anyone at any time) and this fellow brought up George Bush at least half a dozen times. “President Bush says this” and “I agree with Bush’s stand on…”. I can’t remember the last time that our Prime Minister was mentioned in casual conversation.
Another thing I like about Americans is that they like Canada. Whether they’ve been there or not, they have a favorable impression of their northern neighbour. Last night we talked with a bartender who, once he found out where we were from, launched into a dreamy recollection of ice-fishing near Sault Ste Marie. Of course, he looked genuinely shocked when we told him that Toronto was about an 8 hour drive from the lake he sat on. Foreign geography is not their strong suit.
It’s just too bad that Americans are represented by politicians.


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