Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: THE UGLY TOURIST (07/09/15)
- TITLE: The Day I Saw the Ugly American
By Trudy Newell
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As the airport van pulled up to the hotel, the rain danced gently on the windshield. Everyone stepped out under the awning, and the driver helped with suitcases.
After travelling all night from Kenya, I lumbered out of the van at 9 A.M., rubbing my aching muscles and groaning softly. The damp morning air chilled me to the bone. I wasn’t use to this.
The hotel was full of other travelers. Back in the eighties, airlines put you up in a day room at a hotel to help break up the journey.
The staff was still preparing the rooms. Airport hotels like this had a good system. Many guests had early morning flights, and then the next group of travelers arrived for their day rooms.
However, this particular morning, they were having trouble assigning our rooms. The folks at the desk were scrambling, but they still smiled. I felt a headache coming on. More travelers arrived worn out from lack of sleep.
I watched a large man from the plane stumble up to the counter.
Oh dear, he looks like he’s had too much to drink. I guess I get free entertainment while I wait for my room.
His red T-shirt and battered “Giants” ball cap didn’t help his scruffy appearance.
He looks like he’s been on a safari.
In a loud Yankee accent, he demanded, “Where’s my room?”
“Sir, rooms are being prepared and will be ready shortly. We will let you know.”
“What kind of a ****** hotel is this?” He staggered over to the bar, even though the lights were out, and no one was there. Glaring at the clerk he shouted, “Get me a bloody mary.”
The timid clerk shrugged her shoulders. “The bartender will be here at eleven.”
“Eleven? I want my drink now. I’ve been up all night.”
“I’m sorry, the bar is closed.”
The tirade that followed made me squirm. What will this big guy do next?
The manager of the hotel came to the desk. I overheard him whisper to the lady there, “Do we call the police or give the man his bloody mary?”
The obnoxious man continued his tirade. Sighing, the manager threw his hands up in the air, walked over, opened up the bar, and gave the man his bloody mary.
I covered my hot face with my hands and cringed. No wonder Americans aren’t welcomed. The TV shows and movies certainly don’t help our reputation either, but this man is truly a disgrace.
Americans are often looked at not only as loud and obnoxious, but rich. The nationals aren’t interested in the tourist, but they do like the dollars that are brought into their country.
How can we help improve the reputation of the American tourist?
* I’ve learned to keep my eyes and ears open. It’s important to be sensitive to what’s going on around us. Also, I know that in most places, as an American, I may be robbed, or otherwise taken advantage of. So I try to be aware of what’s happening.
* I try to keep my voice down, and not draw attention to myself. I learned the hard way that in some places giggling DOES draw attention.
* I remember that I am a guest in their country.
* I dress appropriately. When traveling to Kenya in the nineties, I arrived in a skirt or dress. At that time jeans and slacks were not appropriate for ladies.
* As a lady I found it is far more important to know something about appropriate attire for the country I am visiting. I don’t want to be mistaken for a lady of the street.
* I expect things to be different.
* I try not to complain.
As I have traveled, I try to keep a smile on my face. I don’t want anyone to mistake me for an ‘ugly American.’
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