I like to ask people what their stereotype of Americans is when I travel. I just get a kick out of it. The other day in the taxi in Medellin, Colombia, I didn’t even have to ask.
It was pouring rain, so I was more eager than usual to be entering a cab, though I think I closed the door as I usually do, forcefully.
The taxi driver was none too thrilled. “Why do all gringos slam the door of the car?”
I thought it was a hilarious stereotype, but as I thought about it, I realized Americans do slam car doors. This wasn’t the first time I or other American friends with whom I was sharing a taxi had been chastised for closing a door too hard in South America.
I explained to him that I close the door hard because it’s annoying when I close one too softly, and the door doesn’t close all the way. Coupled with the fact that I’ve never seen a car with a broken door from closing it too hard, closing forcefully seems obvious and has become a habit.
When it was time for me to get out, he told me about three different times not to close the door at all. He would close it for me after I exited.
A few weeks ago I was talking to a girl in Bogota, Colombia about Halloween costumes, and she said last year she went as a gringa. I had to know what that entailed, and she explained that it meant wearing flip flops. Guilty again, I guess.
Since most of readers are probably car-door-slamming, flip-flop-wearing gringos like me, I hope you’re not too offended by what the Colombians think of us.
What other stereotypes for Americans have you uncovered in your travels? (Please don’t say anything actually terrible.)