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Brian’s Travel Diary

Monday, 03 Jul 2006

Location: Cretinous Cases, Australia

MapIf I could rid one thing from this world I think it would be ignorance, my own included.

Newcastle and Australia in general is an amazing place. The people are genuinely nice and social opinions generally sound, but there are some things I have to get written down. I tell you these things because they are not aberrations, but give what I believe to be the true mindset of the average Newcastlian.

An Australian woman was telling me about her trip to America and wanted to tell me how great her trip was to the Grand Canyon. What amazed her so much was that part of it was run but Native Americans, but she didn’t see one drunken Indian lying on the ground.

Wow! Not one, though. Come on. There had to be one, right? Dear lord……. This woman ran her own small business.

On a side note, she has never been to Ayers rock and I have never been to the Grand Canyon. It just goes to show you that human nature can’t help but attach some romantic sensationalism to what we can’t readily achieve, but consider what is close simply the ordinary.

Aussies in general are very protective of their culture. They are protective to the point where they gladly pay more for Aussie-made items when other countries clearly have a competitive advantage over them. We had that “Made in the USA” label for awhile too, I guess.

I also overheard a radio station asking people to call in if they thought there was too much American influence on Aussie culture. The rock station temporarily turned into the bash America channel where the hot topic was to bitch about the influx of fast food chains, which was fine by me.

However, McDonalds is not fast food in Australia. Despite the perceived hatred for fast food by Aussies, I had to wait 45 minutes for a burger. This had everything do to with the 50 people in line ahead of me. There is only one in town and it’s also the only “Maccas” I have ever been to that had security and had to use it. But not just one guard mind you. This was like the Rainbow Six team of security personnel complete with radios and batons. One rowdy “derro” (short for derelict) tried to go make his burger himself and was promptly removed via a choke hold. There were several other more minor altercations where people had to be removed, but worry not, they held on to their take out bag and ate the “Oz” burger in the street.

On another McDonalds note they recently rescued some miners from a cave in. It was a big deal here. This quote below was taken straight from the paper.

"Todd wants steak, egg and chips and he wants to go to Maccas," paramedic Peter James told reporters, referring to the McDonald's burger chain. "He asked for us to go through a drive-through with the lights and sirens going."

Look, I’m not saying you can’t like MickeyD’s. It’s cool, enjoy it. But don’t bitch at me for being an American and how much you hate fast food on your way to grab a Big Mac.

All school examples are American. The books are primarily American based. I get to hear how evil corporate America is by way of WorldCom and Enron. Fair enough, it happened, but those companies are also out of business now and our laws are stronger than the international standards.

In one of my classes recently on “Social Responsibility” a group was giving a presentation on smoking laws and smoking deaths in America. After giving the annual death stat he said “but that’s not enough according to some people.” I took offense and had a few questions for him during his presentation. It was fun to watch him back pedal, but the winning quote for the day by this particular Aussie was “Hey, I love you guys. I was in Canada and Canadians hate Americans!” Then my Canadian friend Mike had a few questions.

The list of examples goes on and on…but I fear this is turning into a political blog and not a travel diary so I apologize. It won’t happen again. The only reason I bring it up is that among the dozen nationalities I am friends with each has approached me with some sort of anti-American experience of their own implying its almost become P-C to hate on America.

I leave you with this…No matter what club you are in, no matter where you are in the world everyone gets uglier when the lights come on and that’s when its time to go home.