Earlier this week, I was out to dinner with a colleague from London. We started down a line of dialogue about Londoners perceptions of Americans. Being in the US for only the 2nd time ever, he shared that he was finding a few things really surprising but also really different from the stereotypes he always hears at home.
His perceptions of Americans were a little off base. He tentatively shared:
1. Don’t take this the wrong way, but you aren’t, well, fat!
Americans get a really bad rap for for being obese slobs. I told my friend to look outside and see how many people were jogging down the street (even on a rainy night) – DC is a very active city and people take care of themselves. Middle America, we are not, but I told him to please share that while the obesity rates are dangerously high at 34% in 2008, that leaves 66% of us that would appreciate being thought of as healthy, active individuals and not slobs. There is growing obesity around the world – it is a human problem, not an American problem.
2. DC is actually a really cool place. I always thought it was boring and never cared to visit, choosing NYC or other big cities instead.
I hope I never take living in DC for granted (even if I do desperately want to experience other cities), because it truly is an amazing, beautiful and interesting place to live. He had made all the big stops and loved them all – Georgetown, Air & Space Museum, National Mall and surrounding monuments, White House, etc. DC has just about anything you could want – history, opinions, parks, trails, good restaurants and a whole lot of culture.
3. Random people are nice to each other – servers in restaurants smile and want to engage in conversation, people in the metro will give you directions, even taxi drivers treat you like a human. That doesn’t happen in London.
I told him – be a nice human being and people will treat you like one.
4. You work really hard.
He was impressed with the work ethic and commitment he saw from our company’s employees. It was a nice validation (and who doesn’t love being validated?) that hard work doesn’t go unnoticed.
5. You have quality beer! I thought it’d all be watered down “miller light”
Come on, man! We have graduated from our bud light and miller light stereotype! We enjoy good craft beers and solid imports from around the world. Want a good beer? Try DC Brau (loved it), Arrogant Bastard (big smile at the taste and the clever name) or one of the many german and belgium beers found on the menu.
Be healthy, learn something, treat people nicely, work hard and enjoy a good beer. All in a day’s work here in the nation’s capital!
What perceptions do you have of other cultures? I’d tell you to go visit and shatter them!