Thursday, October 26, 2006

Are you an Ugly American? Part 1 of 10

From Budget Travel’s tips on how to avoid being a jerk abroad:

#1 Mind your table manners.

Why I’m apparently an Ugly American:

I’m constantly reminded of my manners, or lack thereof, when I travel. In Australia, I learned from Germans that I hold my fork like I’m trying to kill my food; in Switzerland I was told how to properly convey my eating intentions to the waiter by the placement of my utensils on the plate. Regardless, I still Cro-Magnonly grip forks as if to kill, and signal to my waiter that I am done with my meal by unbuttoning my pants.

I come from a land of “Burritos as Big as Your Head.” Where tortillas are made to stuff and roll. This is not how to eat in Honduras. If you unload the contents of your plate into a burrito, roll it into the mother of all burritos, and two-fist it into your mouth as sauce and meat falls out the bottom, people will stare. They’ll turn in their seats to watch, call their relatives to describe the scene, and snap photos with their cell phones. I learned this the hard way.

The more I learn about manners and their global variety, the more I choose to ignore them and just do what feels right, while giving a big I’m-an-idiot-heathen-and-I-know-it smile.

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