It’s a strange feeling to be in a foreign place and know your nationality will be instantly recognized if you speak. As I’ve travelled through Toronto and London to Amman, I’ve noticed some other things that make my fellow Americans stand out.
The first is how loud we are. Everything Americans do is loud. From talking, to zipping up luggage, to just walking. It’s all at least twice as loud as the Canadians and Europeans.
We wear the strangest clothes. While most people on the flight from Canada to England were dressed in dark colors, every American (including myself) on the flight was wearing a bright color.
Finally, Americans talk to everyone. While most people are quietly minding their own business, Americans are busy trying to chat up everyone around them.
And of course, the essential list of craziness witnessed in the airports:
– Before even entering the terminal in Kansas City, I stood behind a woman in seven-inch stilettos. She used – no kidding – eight bins for her belongings. Each time she went through the metal detector, they sent her back to take off more accessories. When she was finally cleared, she screamed at everyone for touching her Coach bag. Yikes.
– A young man began reading a Buddhist book in the terminal, waiting for our flight. A huffy woman across from him pulled out her Bible and furiously flipped through the pages, looking at him between each haughty turn. When he didn’t respond, she actually began to pray out loud for his salvation.
– Flying with children is never fun, but it’s worse when the child is the boss! One little girl screamed for the entire flight to Toronto because her mother wouldn’t give her any more cookies.
– Last, but not least – remember how I mentioned Americans are chatty? Well, a young woman was talking the ear off of a young man in the terminal. After repeated attempts to end the conversation, the guy eventually folded up a piece of newspaper into a cell phone-sized piece. He said, “Sorry, I have to take this.” He proceeded to “answer” the paper phone and talk away until the girl left.
I have learned that people are very kind and willingly help a lost American girl in the airport. I only had a one-hour connection in Toronto and had no idea how to find my gate. A lady driving a Special Assistance truck in the airport took one look at my boarding pass, practically yanked me into the truck, and went careening down the terminal. She pulled up SWAT style at the gate and said, “And that’s how it’s done.” Indeed.