The Ugly American…

Saturday was our last day in Canada.  It was a long day that got off to a bad start and got worse before it got better.  The complexities of the day were so great that I need to share them in three separate blog posts.  There simply is too much to tell to cram it into a singular post.

The first turn in the wrong direction on Saturday came when the owner of the cottage – Georgina – called me to ask about our stay.  Just minutes before her call I had completed a note to her about some items I thought she should know about.  When she called and asked about our stay, I started by telling her that we had a lovely stay.  I then told her I had written her a note about some items at the cottage I thought she may be unaware of and told her I could share the list with her on the phone if she liked.  On the list were items such as a broken fan, game tables in disrepair, and a slick garage floor that created a treacherous condition that caused folks to slip.  None of these items grearly marred our visit, but I thought as a renter it was polite to let her know about such things.  I also thought that she would want to address the garage floor before someone got seriously hurt.  I was respectful and pleasant in this conversation, and in no way did I ever say in any form or fashion that I was unhappy with her or the property.  But what I said was not what Georgina heard. Georgina came unglued.  She wound herself up into a ten minute tirade about how ungrateful I was, how different Americans are from Canadians, how I belonged in a resort if was so focused on expectations, etc.   She refused to let me speak.  When I said to her about halfway through her rant, “Georgina let me stop you there so that I can clarify something…”, she literally said – “No, I am not going to let you speak.”

She did his all in her lovely melodic school marm like Canadian-speak…her tone sounded like she was being decidely pleasant, but her words made it clear that she viewed me in the frame of the “ugly American” sterotype and she might as well have been strewing profanity at me as hateful as the sentiment was. Apparently, in the few sentences at the beginning of that call I said enough to make up her mind to never rent to Americans again. The whole incident floored me.  Me –  the ugly American?  Doesn’t she know I am Gayle?  I am amiable and friendly – I am not…I repeat NOT the ugly American.  You could have knocked me over with a feather –  I never saw that hostility coming.

When the rest of the clan heard about the call they were likewise in disbelief – who says such things to someone who just paid you almost $300 a night to rent your cottage, who started the conversation commenting on the lovely time had, and who as a kindness shared some information with you?  The more we talked about it the more irritated I got about it.

I left Georgina a note after that call that basically said our stay at the cottage was fine right up until her call.  I also let her know that I have never had any problems with Canadians prior to that day and that I was very disappointed in her demeanor on that call.  In full-blown truth I was more than disappointed – I was downright pissed off.  But it occured to me after reflecting upon it for awhile that Georgina’s outburst had more to do with Georgina than me.  None of the items I told her were news to her and the game tables in disrepair are tauted as amenities in their advertisement.  My guess is she was ready to be defensive and once she had me on the phone she just took off like a top spinning furiously across the table.

When we locked up the place and headed out the Georgina call faded a bit more from my mind with each mile.  But then, it got worse.

Day one thousand four hundred and sixty-seven of the new forty – obla di obla da

Ms. C

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About Ms. C

I teach at NDSU...but I remain a student of life with all the enthusiasm that entails. My favorite saying is, "Sometimes you have to take the leap and build your wings on the way down." In the new forty that is what I am doing...building my wings.
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4 Responses to The Ugly American…

  1. Rob says:

    This seems to be all about some things not actually said, but inferred. If I am reading this and you have written this correctly, Georgina seems not to have used the actual words, “ugly American.”

    “Apparently, in the few sentences at the beginning of that call I said enough to make up her mind to never rent to Americans again.” Again, did she actually say that? Your piece seems to be written around a lot of inferences and emotional tones which may well be there – or not.

  2. B-dubya says:

    “But it occured to me after reflecting upon it for awhile that Georgina’s outburst had more to do with Georgina than me. ”

    That statement alone tells me that you not only were probably very respectful to Georgina, but had the best motives in telling her about things that needed attention. I deduce this because after a short time you looked at the situation from HER viewpoint (in true Gayle style). Any number of unrelated things could have caused her to be carrying a large chip on her shoulder–and you seem to have taken that into consideration.

  3. tim haering says:

    I’m sorry you had such a rotten experience trying to be helpful. If you know an attorney, you should scare the bejeebers out of Georgina by threatening to sue. I don’t suppose you took photos of any of the cottage’s deficiencies?

    I have seen the phenomenon for years and maybe it’s getting worse, but it is always the guilty party who attacks. I’ve watched it at scenes of car accidents – the one who caused the accident is the first out of her car with her mouth blazing profane accusations and insults. It always shocks me, though I expect it now. Social Koyaanisqatsi.

    I suggest you build a bridge over troubled headwaters, so the water flows under it faster.

    • B-dubya says:

      “I suggest you build a bridge over troubled headwaters, so the water flows under it faster.” A quote to remember! Thanks!

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