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American People

March 15, 2019

This is the first in a three part post series about the American people.

American people – I honestly can not find better examples of humanity anywhere else in the world and I have traveled most of it.

To begin with, let me differentiate between people and government. America has one of the worst, most corrupt governments in the world with leeches and crooks occupying most all elected offices. But the people of our great nation seem on the whole to avoid the infection by these parasites and remain the best people in the world. Why? Let me explain why with a few examples:

Two years ago, while heading out for some shopping in the pouring rain, I ran across an elderly man (more elderly than me) with a flat tire. I stopped to help and within a minute three other drivers stopped as well. We changed the man’s tire while standing in 10 inches of water, directed him to the nearest gas station and he went on his way happy to have had the kindness and much needed help. While all of this was going on, three other cars stopped and asked if any additional help was needed. That’s American people.

Try the same scenario in Europe. In the same year I had a headlight go out near our home in Italy while we were leaving a parking garage on a small uncrowded street. They are a bitch to replace but I don’t like being one of those one-eyed pain in the butts that comes lurching at you in the night. I decided to immediately change the bulb with a spare I had in the car. It’s a good half hour process with my car and even longer with my poor back. With my hood up (indicating I needed help), I watched no fewer than 50 people drive by without so much as a look in my direction. To boot, I was doing all of this on a street right in front of a car dealership. I never saw anyone come out to help although I could clearly see three or four young guys sitting around shooting the bull. No one ever did stop and offer to help, including numerous youngsters, so I managed the task alone in about 45 minutes and finally headed for home.

About three years ago, my wife and I drove to explore some back roads in South Carolina, looking for two small lakes. As we needed further orientation, I pulled the car off the road to look at a map and discuss where we wanted to go next. Thirty seconds later a farm boy with his mother in his truck pulled in behind me. He jumped out and wanted to know if everything was okay. Did I need any help? Did we have car trouble? Did I need a lift? When I told him we were fine and just reading a map, he offered up several suggestions on how to find the lakes we were looking for and also took the time to suggest a nearby restaurant he was familiar with. He left us with a smile and a genuine “have a nice day.” That’s American people.

Again, I will compare this to the time many years ago when I asked two elderly men in Germany where the town of Aichen was located. I was searching for an unfamiliar hotel in that small town near Munich. Mind you, I speak perfect German in five dialects. They both told me that they had no idea although it later turned-out that the three of us had been standing in the center of that very town together. Aside from being just plain rude and mean spirited, it made me wonder who I could turn to if I actually had a real emergency in Europe.

The examples could go on forever but I’ll close with just one more. Many people say New York City is unfriendly. I beg to differ. If you need any kind of help in this city, someone will be there immediately and … they will probably be able to find someone to speak your language, whatever it might be, and offer a smile with their assistance. I have experienced that many times, especially when I worked in that city decades ago as a playwright. That great melting pot is not the cold, unfriendly place of the world-wide tabloids. Compare that to Rome, Munich or Paris where: (A) You must speak their language and exact local dialect (B) The answer to most questions of help is invariably, “Non lo so” / “Ich weiss es nicht” or simply a long disgusted look followed by, “Nous n’aimons pas les Américains.”

Something to think about the next time you hear the world picking in unison on Americans – the American people.

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Read author Allen E. Rizzi’s latest books available at Amazon.com

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10 Comments
  1. L.Roach permalink

    An excellent post Allen! Thank you. I too have traveled a great deal in Europe. And I must tell you I had an excellent experience spending six weeks in Ireland. Everyone I met was exceptionally friendly, helpful and loved chatting with Americans. The Irish were absolutely the nicest people I have ever met while traveling.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I lived 25 years in the USA, now back in italy. And I could not agree more with what you are saying. From the little things to the big things, and the funny part is that I remenber growing up and hearing these false statements “we Italians are kind…, generous…, etc. “
    Nothing is farther from reality, and I’m not going into the racism than we are witnessing lately, but to give a few examples as you did:
    A colleague of mine had a child with cancer. A horribly sad story. She once said that over Xmas they were (her, the husband, and child), at the hospital for chemio. When they got home they found that the neighbors had cleaned the house, shopped, and prepare a Xmas worthy dinner, set the table, put a a Xmas tree and decorated the house. And left to let them enjoy the evening dinner.
    I know of someone with similar situation in italy where the neighbor didn’t even went as far as asking if the family needed some grocery shopping.
    Never mind their work hectics. If you have any problem and call the customers service, … we’ll firget it. All you get is “eh! Ma signora…” a sentence that “mi fa saltare la mosca sl naso!”
    Each time someone tells me “eh ma Signora, I get silently upset. In any case you do not win.
    I wired transferred some money to my account in italy. The money didn’t arrive. I called the bank. But I got the “eh ma Signora-thing” a couple of times before I told the idiot that we were talking a lot of money and I want an answer. I did not got it.
    I waited and called again, I knew I could get someone else. This time the lady was a little more cooperative. She asked me to forward the email that my US bank sends to confirm the wire transfer. So I did. … and never heard about it again.
    (That’s another thing of Italy that upsets me. They never reply to emails. NEVER!)
    I was ready to call again when I receive an email from my US bank informing me that there was a problem with the transfer, etc.
    I called them, and although the grntlemam thst sent the email was not there, his colleague accepted to take care of the problem to help. Asked me to send the new information were to re-direct the money via email, which I did.
    15 minutes later the colleague was back and sent me an email saying that things were taken care of, tgst he hopes they will be resolved soon snd to not hesitate to contact him again if need be.
    In italy no one EVER reply to your emails. Not for work nor for friendship. It’s no brained to say “ thank for your email, I shall whatever..,”
    And they claim that they receive too many emails, which is absolutely baloney!
    In some cases I tried to say that no one received more emails than me. Oh no, they insist! Even if it is a tiny provincial office.
    Well, I worked at the International Monetary Fund, the Media Office, and the PR office. Yet I could take care of all emails! I don’t think many people receive that load of communications.
    Even if you try to be kind it doesn’t work.
    In the USA, we ladies when we shop for clothes and try something on, we compliment each other: “oh, that’s so nice on you! You should get it”
    I say the same here, but people look at me with suspicion. Either they think I’m not minding my own business, or that I’m saying just because in reality the outfit is ugly and I hope they buy it yo look bad.
    And I could go on for a lot longer.

    Liked by 2 people

    • You are definitely right about emails (which is a pet peeve of mine). We are trying to sell our home in Italy and getting the real estate agent to return an email answering my questions is near impossible. I’m sure I come off as pushy because I insist on accurate communication. È sempre lo stesso.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Right on the $. I sent an email to two realtors and one to Trento Province 5 days ago and crickets. What is wrong with these people?

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I agree that my experience is that Americans can be incredibly helpful to people in need and lost travelers in general. I recall being in a small German village where my ancestors lived (and I don’t speak the language but did the best I could with my limited vocabulary), asked some teen girls for assistance and pretty much just got laughed at. On the other hand people in the Netherlands, even those who disinterested know English were some of the nicest people I’ve met anywhere on earth. I hate to generalize, because I’ve had plenty of negative experiences here in the U.S., too.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. KiM permalink

    If I’m alone, I stop depending on the gender and age of the person even if it’s just to offer to call for help. But here’s a funny for you. Hubby was driving and we got to an elderly lady stopped in the middle of the road. She didn’t move. I got out and walked up to her and asked if she was okay…. “oh yes dear, I was just looking at the cows” 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

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