Oh no, I’m that bitchy American: Fresh off the boat syndrome
Posted on July 6, 2010 by yankeebean
When I first moved to the UK back in 2004, I was living in York – aka, beautiful tourist-central. I waitressed and worked retail until I knew what was going on with the visa situation. Because York is so touristy, I met a LOT of Americans, which I thought was entirely fantastic. At the first hint of someone’s twang, I would launch in the standard enthusiastic schpeal, ‘HELLOyoumustbeAmerican-METOO-whereareyoufrom-Whatbroughtyouoverhere-Howlongwillyoustay-Doyoulikeithere’ palaver that we’ve all been through.
I remember a few times, when I’d begin my standard interview, the American person I was talking to would heave a big sigh. And they’d reluctantly answers my questions with the same enthusiasm that they must reserve for emptying their bins. ‘Oh, well I’ve been here for 35 years now’ or ‘This is my home now’, or ‘I don’t really feel very American any more’.
I also remember MY reaction at the time. It was always something along the lines of ‘Man, what a jag-hole. I was just trying to be nice. Sorry if talking to me was like getting your teeth cleaned…” (This was all inner monologue, I’m too chicken-shizzle to say any of that out loud)
But OOOHHHHHH how the tables have turned. The other day I was grabbing a coffee and, sure enough, there was an extremely enthusiastic American barista behind the counter. At the first hint of my hard-R’s, she launched into that oh-so-familiar speech that I gave so many times when I was fresh off the boat.
And my DEFAULT REACTION was to heave a huge sigh. It was like I had an out of body experience and I watch myself do it. I couldn’t control it. I was already half way through the sigh before I even realised what was happening.
I HAD BECOME THAT BITCHY AMERICAN. GAH! The one who doesn’t want to talk about how long she’s been here, or how she got here, or if she likes it here. The one who doesn’t instantly become uber-friends with Americans just because they’re American. The one who doesn’t think England is worse that America, or that America is worse that England.
My out-of-body-yankeebean lowered her head in shame, hovering above me, pointing and judging. It’s not barista lady’s fault that she just got here (she’s been here for 6 months, I learned). I tried to U-turn out of bitch-ville and be enthusiastic with the barista – but I knew the damage was done. I saw the surprise that crossed her face when I heaved my stupid sigh – I know all too well what her inner monologue was.
Has any one else run into this? I kinda felt like I kicked a puppy, I think it’s something I have to work on…