Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Polite Americans?

The other night in the pub the subject of stereotypes came up. (I believe it was predicated by the discussion of the complete tosser who drenched me as I was riding my bike along the A308.) Someone said that there were some incredibly rude people here. I said that on the whole, I found the English (British? I am always getting in trouble for using the wrong word to group people over here...) were pretty considerate of others.

This lead to the discussion that they (the locals) are always hearing about the manners of their people but their perception is that Americans are far-and-away nicer than the British. "Really?" I asked... "What Americans have you met?"

I'm sure that my parents would be gratified (and more than a little surprised) that I was the first American that they named - I mean, sure, I was sitting right there, but being held up as exemplar for my manners? Cool! (I guess there is a first time for everything!) But it leaves me to wonder: Do we fail to notice in our fellows that which we seem to admire most in strangers?

Do we think the British are more polite than the Americans we see every day because we so rarely interact with them? Conversely, do the British like the manners of Americans because they so rarely spend time in New York? (...or a Denver traffic jam, for that matter...) If you're a sociology student looking for a masters thesis, please feel free to look into this. Use it in good health - please let me know the conclusion you come to!

It certainly could be something along those lines. Perhaps we (Americans) would be better served by keeping all those rude and aggressive members of our society in special enclosed compounds and not letting them travel abroad. We could confine them, say to Washington, D. C.

Hey, it's worth a thought!

I hope wherever you are today, you're met by mild-mannered, and polite people!

Don Bergquist - 15-Mar-2006 - Thames Ditton, Surrey, United Kingdom

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