Tuesday, August 19, 2003

I came across this short article about getting really lost: Far From Home Without a Clue

This article reminded me of what happened last month when I was reading magazines in a department store in Mexico City... a well dressed, 50-something American woman entered and began talking rather loudly in English to her companion, Mark. You couldn't help but overhear her. She was sarcastic and bitter toward him... he'd apparently walked in on her in a compromising intimate situation and was apparently a drug user.

I had my back to the woman as I paged through Newsweek, but I saw the Mexican businessmen and women around me glancing in the woman's direction obviously irritated. Someone needed to do something, but no one was. I get embarrassed when Americans talk loudly or act rudely in Mexico... I just want to get away from such people or shut them up since they're just intensifying people's already negative stereotypes of Americans as loud, pushy or attention seeking. And even though I didn't want to be associated with this "bad apple" American, I decided to act. Putting my magazine back and turning toward the woman, I realized something was wrong... there was no companion... no Mark. She was talking to herself.

Oops... now I felt sorry for her and a bit ashamed for my egotistical indignation. I walked over and - in English - suggested that she step outside so that we could talk. She looked at me haughtily, told me she knew what the rest of the "drug cartel" and I were up to, tossed her black Prada purse over her shoulder and walked out, cursing as she went.

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