One of my all time favorite friend stories involves a girl, "Bea" and her friend, "Javier." One day at lunch, Javier observed some Hispanics behaving badly. "Fucking Mexicans!" he said. Shocked, Bea turned to him and said, "But Javi, YOU'RE Mexican." Javier sighed and slumped his shoulders, then dramatically declared, "Ay! Mi Gente!" Loosely translated that means, "Oy, My People!"
Having spent much of the last couple of weeks "on assignment" in Spain (part of my budding side-career as a travel writer), I had been blissfully spared the acts of stupidity so common in my daily life at home in Texas. Of course, maybe it was just because I don't speak Spanish very well, so I wasn't able to conveniently witness the verbal stupidities, but based on action, I'm pretty sure there are just fewer stupid people in Spain.
I was shocked back into reality upon arriving at the airport.
"YOU SHOULD NEVER LEAVE THE UNITED STATES!!!" cawed the oooooold woman in the wheelchair. As taken aback as I was by her random pronouncement to the room, I was even more gobsmacked by the three jingoistic jackasses who APPLAUDED her. WTF? Taxi! Back to El Centro, por favor. Queria vivir aqui ahora!"
Then there was the six-some of seniors, wrapping up their Odd Couples vacay. There was the vacuous one, sitting waiting with her blank expression. Upon discovering that we would be taking a bus out on the tarmac (not at all unusual), she became slightly agitated and said, in a whispery voice, "we have to take a bus!" Then, in a spooky sing-song voice, "Take the bus to the train, and the train to the plane." Hunh? Umm, lady . . . there ain't no train. although i would be significantly happier if you WERE taking a bus to a train. A train to somewhere other than where I'm going.
The hard charger of the six-some (for some reason the men all seemed to be entirely pussy-whipped. In fact this one kept hers on a leash via walkie-talkie) was freaking out because she had decided FIVE MINUTES BEFORE DEPARTURE that she wanted to change her euros back to dollars. "But the money changer is on the other side of security! Can you believe that?!?!!? I would have to go all the way back through security, just to change my money."
Or you you could take your bold-patterned-clad fat ass to the cambio in the New York airport. Dumbass.
And of course no trip to a foreign land would ever be complete without the wonderful American who thinks the language barrier can be breached by volume. As we're checking out of the snack bar line, she literally yells at the poor cashier (who for some odd reason DOESN'T speak English), "DO YOU WANT TO CHARGE IT? (pause) OR CASH? (pause) AMERICAN MONEY!"
Yep, good old fashioned "american money." A buck and a scream will cover you in just about any situation.
Ay! Mi Gente!