Friday, January 21, 2011

How Americans Treat Each Other Abroad- an Observation

A lot has been said about the behavior of Americans abroad, but few things have been said about how Americans treat each other when abroad. Well, here are my observations:

Among the Americans abroad I have met three types who are divided into these % categories. One tenth are very helpful and nice, they provide you guidance and advice although not always right or helpful. I would say that out of that, only 1% will lead to any actual positive result. Often well meaning, they nonetheless either cannot control the outcome of their help or are simply clueless.

About 60% are completely indifferent, do not offer help, do not know much and are just busy solving their problems and leading their own lives the best they can. They also do not ask for any help from you. And most will not render any help if you ask them.

About 20% are braggarts and tell you how successful they are and how much the locals adore them, how beautiful their girlfriends are, and how great their lives are and how well they speak the local language ( most do not). These are the "I am all right, Jack" type.

About 10% are icy, sarcastic, cynical assholes who will use you in a dog-eat-dog fashion, will humiliate you and try to destroy you. You are competition to them and are infringing on what they deem as their rightfully conquered territory. They will ask to borrow money and disappear, and when time comes to collect, they will be the ones getting angry at YOU for bugging them! The nerve! If you work with them, they will talk behind your back and try and make you look stupid and even get you fired to ingratiate themselves with the locals. If you open a business, they will try to cut you down or even pay someone to have you killed- yes, siree!

In case of women, some are nice, but many are not. But among them, some will also be able to offer help and give you clues as to where to succeed and how to solve your problems. Many women will either have an inferiority complex and be jealous of you winning local women or have a superiority complex and showing off their successes with local men. Often they gang up with other women against you. Strange!

All in all, Americans are individualists and believe in self help even in foreign lands. Also, Americans do not trust strangers who are not members of some peer groups. Even within those peer groups they divide themselves into above-described categories although of a somewhat milder degree.

Black Americans that I have met are divided into the following camps- some continue racial segregation, and mistrust or even hate you and do not want to talk to you or help you because they "hate the Honkey" - about one half, and some are angels - 10% who will take you around, help you out and be very nice and warm to you. Good black Americans like that can be very good friends. The other 40% will be just indifferent to you and pay you no mind.

Other non white Americans usually will be helpful to members of their hyphenated ethnicity, and just a tiny percentage will have any productive engagement with you. Filipino and other Asian Americans are completely different from the natives of the country whose ethnicty they supposedly represent in the USA.
The best ones I have found are the Hispanic ones, but there are very few of them overseas. I would say that a good half of them will be good sports in all situations, the other half will just be indifferent and a tiny percentage will be nasty to you.

The exception is usually online or in any kinds of formal association. If you are a member if some American clubs or some expat message boards, and you ask for advice usually, it will be given. Again, in some 70% of cases, do not expect a good result from such help.

The military guys often only associate themselves with other military guys and belong to different associations where help can be given. They do not like civilians that much and usually do not trust them. There are exceptions to the rule and they are a great blessing to encounter.

Another caution about dealing with Americans abroad: do not ostentatiously display your knowledge of the local language or how well you are integrated with local people, as it can create some very unpleasant reactions. The overwhelming majority of American expats ( and that can be said about all Anglo cultures in general) never bother to learn the local language even after they have been in the country for many years. Most have an imperial, colonial attitude of them "owning or ruling the world" even if they are aliens on a conditional visa. And the locals are so used to that that they now simply adjust to the Americans. In other cases, they are condescending and auspiciously nice to the locals in some cases, possibly to make up for the racial oppression of colored peoples at home. Only a teeny , microspcip percentage is truly nice and integrating. But usually, an American speaking a foreign language or integrating with the locals on their terms is as rare as a horse that sings "La Traviata". If you have respect for the local culture and study the language and assimilate, try not to speak it at work where an American boss is present as he will feel that you are being a smart ass. It will also make him appear arrogant and dumb, and the locals will start saying to him-" How come Mr. Smith has been in our country only ( put the number of years here) and you, Mr. Jones have been here ( put the number of years) and you cannot speak the language?" You may even end up getting fired. Happened to me, yes siree!

If you choose to be in company of other Americans, please speak English and only offer your services as a translator humbly and cautiously in case they cannot explain themselves well to the locals. About 10% of Americans will praise your efforts to integrate. In most cases though, your language ability may work against you if you deal with Americans abroad and want to do business with them or maintain some kind of friendship. So, be careful.

Ironically, it is Americans that are the most indignant about immigrants not wanting to assimilate and become Americans but act exactly the same when they are overseas.

In my case, regardless of whom I encounter I try and offer help, advice and observations and try and act humbly and politely. I have even been able to give jobs to some really sardonic, full-of-themselves Americans whom I have found overseas. Many were surprised that I have offered them help and job referrals and advice. In many cases, I was treated with mistrust and brushed off. This did not daunt me, though, and I am always determined to help them and anyone else to the best of my ability.

Online, things are different though, because message boards do for the most part attract intelligent and mostly humane people with pompous assholes and toxic sarcastic mockers being an exception to the rule. There is also a contingent of well- wishers who are totally without any idea how to help, but they have the benefit of simply not answering the post. Or their posts can be ignored.

If you look for good Americans who know things, and who can be helpful and nice to the utmost degree they will be about 3%, with most heavily concentrated on online boards. But generally, there is little solidarity among Yanks abroad and it is each man to himself and each on his own. Most do not give a hoot in hell if a fellow American goes down or even dies. Just like back home. F*ck your fellow man! Totally unlike the Chinese or the Jews and various Muslim ethnicities who help each other much more. Whether it is good or bad is a judgment call.

My advice is: do not be such a rugged individualist when abroad and cautiously and when needed offer help inasmuch as you can. Even with advice or encouragement. You can put on a non chalant face or display a bravado if it helps to get through to them. Anyway, this is my observation.

1 comment:

Captain Ahab said...

Excellent post! I think this perspective will be quite useful to me soon.