Monday, May 22, 2006
ASK MR. DEBONAIR
Dear Mr. Debonair,
I will be traveling to a foreign country in the near future. I am afraid that I will run afoul of local customs in some way, offending my hosts and embarrassing myself. How should I comport myself?
Signed, Nervous About Travel
As a Frequent Traveler, I can assure you that Mr. Debonair has “been there, done that.” Over the years, I have learned many useful tips and techniques that enable me to travel to the most exotic of destinations, always secure in the knowledge that I am welcome…even beloved.
First, it is helpful to be sure you are clearly understood. As studying the language of the locale you will be visiting is not always practical, I have found that I can do quite well simply by speaking English. If the natives seem to be having difficulty comprehending you, speak loudly and slowly - the louder and slower, the better. Your kindness and consideration, thus displayed, will earn you no end of friendship and courtesy. Don’t forget to gesticulate wildly - most foreigners do this, and to see you do so will help make them feel at home. Wait...they are home. It is you that are away!
When you go through border formalities, be sure to wave your passport in the face of the Immigration Official and state in a clear voice, “Amerikanski! Betcha you wish you had one of these bad boys, eh?” Don’t forget to speak slowly and loudly (see preceding paragraph).
Try to understand the customs and local celebrations. Whether it’s May Two-Four in the Canadian wilderness, or Shaven Yak Day in Kyrgyzystan, you should be prepared to help the locals celebrate whatever bizarre, stupid, and useless holidays they observe. Just be careful about eating the local food. A, it’s likely to be disgusting, and B, it’s likely to give you a case of the Trot-a-Reenios.
Be sure you remind the locals how much better life is in America. That way, you will help them aspire to a Superior Lifestyle. Just be careful you don’t encourage them to actually immigrate…unless their Lawn-Mowing and Fruit-Picking skills are up to snuff.
I trust these Helpful Hints will help to make your Foreign Travel Experience a memorable one!
Very truly yours,