I think I’ll just consider this blog post a public service announcement. This morning Patrick and I flew from Quito to Miami. I am a people watcher, and a frequent international traveler, so I think I’m qualified to point out a few things that really frost my cookies. All of the following happened at some point this morning on our journey.
-When you are visiting another country, please don’t start off a sentence with “In the United States, we…” We probably do. Or maybe we don’t. That’s not the point. The point is you aren’t IN the United States, and while this may come as a complete surprise to you, they don’t CARE how we do it in the United States.
-Don’t. Don’t. DON’T refer to the people of the country you’re visiting as “the natives”. Seriously. It makes you sound really stupid. And it’s offensive.
-Yelling does not transcend the language barrier. If they don’t understand English at a normal volume, they aren’t going to understand it when you’re YELLING IN THEIR FACE. Ask someone for some translation help and save all of us a lot of embarrassment. Which brings me to my next point…
-If you want to try and use your high school Spanish, go ahead. Just don’t pull the old “Can you help me find the store-o where they sell the books-o?” routine. Again. You sound really dumb and you’re embarrassing me. And it’s all about me.
-In the airport, you need to assume that you need ALL of your documents ALL of the time and they have to be 100% correct. Don’t get in the boarding line and get up to the guy and go “Oh! I had no idea I needed my passport!” and then proceed to spend 10 minutes searching through that elephant-sized carry-on that you’re bringing because you’re special, and the rest of us don’t need any carry-on space anyway. And if they handed you a form, they want you to fill it out. If they handed you five forms, they want you fill them out. Don’t ask why–they don’t know. Someone told them you needed to fill out that form, and you’re not leaving the country until you do, so just get writing.
-Don’t try and be funny when you’re waiting in line at immigration. Assume that everyone around you speaks English, and don’t joke about bombs, or drugs, or anything else that will land you in jail in a Third World country. Third World country jails were the prototypes for Hell, in case you’re wondering. And please don’t do it while you’re standing by me. I’m not going down with you, just because you think you’re hilarious. Tell it to your cell mates.
-You are not more important than anyone else, unless you happen to be the President. We’re ALL tired of standing in line. We’re ALL tired of filling out paperwork. We’ve ALL been waiting for our luggage for the last two hours. Huffing around and yelling at the baggage guy (who seriously can’t help you anyway) is really annoying to those of us standing around you. Be nice, people. It doesn’t cost anything, and it keeps complete strangers from thinking you’re a Class A jerk. Which does matter, in the long run.
-And last but not least…I can’t believe I have to say this, but I actually witnessed it this morning…DON’T put your passport in any bag that can/will be checked. Seriously. Airlines lose luggage like it’s a bodily function. I KNOW you handed it to them in Quito at the gate, and we didn’t stop anywhere in between…but you need your passport to get through immigration, and you don’t get your luggage until after you go through immigration…you see where I’m going with this, right? Your passport should never leave your possession. Ever. EVER.
There is an amazing, fabulous world outside the borders of the United States. I think everyone should see as much of it as possible. Just…don’t embarrass yourself. Or your fellow countrymen. Or you just might end up as the subject of one of my blog posts.