I was strolling down a lovely Barcelona street on a quest for coffee and pastries when I noticed a young lady on the next block trying to parallel park in an extremely small space.
She would back up, get out of the car to see how much room she had, get back in, back up more, get out and check, rinse and repeat. She was slowly wedging her car in, but at that rate, it would have taken her half a day.
I approached and helped guide her in, shifting from the front to the back of her car. In just a couple of minutes, the job was done. (Though I had no idea how she’d get out of that space.)
She threw out a line of Spanish (or Catalan, I’m not sure) and I replied, “No habla Español,” in horribly butchered Americanized Spanish.
“American?” she replied, in virtually flawless English.
“Thank you so much for helping! I guess it’s not true what everyone says about Americans.”
“What do they say?” I asked, pretty sure I didn’t want to hear the answer.
“That you’re all mean and rude. And, how do they say… assholes?”
We chatted for a few more minutes. She was super-nice, and incredibly thankful for my assistance. Apologetic too for my phone being stolen, which elicited a, “Yes, some of us are assholes too. Every culture has them.”
She parted with a, “I’ll tell my friends that not all Americans are mean and rude.”
She was right, there are jerks in every culture. That Americans are felt to be at the top of the A-holes of the World list (at least in her circles, which appeared to be late 20’s, well-educated types) left me sad.
Come on, America… Is it really that difficult to just be nice? Offer a fellow human a hand? We can do better than this.