A man in the waiting room of a local doctor was regaling all of us in a loud voice with complaints about his granddaughter.
“Five years of college and she runs off to South America,” he grumbled. “She’s helping some poor tribe somewhere with education and hygiene.”
“But that’s wonderful,” I said. “Is it sort of like the Peace Corps?”
He shrugged. “I don’t know. She’s working with the local girls to help them to a better way of life.”
“She must be a very idealistic person,” I remarked. “You must be so proud of her.”
“Hell, no,” he returned. “She should stay here and work in America where there are plenty of people who need help, not mess around in some forgotten foreign country.”
The lady next to him agreed and I saw a few other heads nodding around the room.
Without knowing the family, I could not offer another opinion, but I secretly admired the young lady. Where would the world be without such volunteers who can help others? I thought that was the American way.
“She should come right back to Michigan where she belongs,” he concluded.
So much for outreach from this old gentleman. I could hardly wait for him to get back there himself.
n n n
My friend Edna comes down from Canada every year for a few months and starts complaining the minute her feet hit the beach in Southwest Florida. The lines at the markets and restaurants are so long, the traffic is so awful, people are so rude and pushy, there is nothing decent to eat in America.
I felt like pointing out that she should try coming in the summer when life is leisurely and the crowds are gone and the whole world is pleasant.
“I would never come in the summer,” barks Edna. “It’s so damned hot and humid and buggy and so many things are closed.”
This kind of snowbird is hard to understand. It reminded me of that old phrase: If you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem.
n n n
My English friend Blair comes here for six months every year to escape the harsh British winter. His only adverse comments are that we pay too much for medical care and prescriptions, and that Americans eat dinner too early.
Well, we have heard this from all our European friends for years and we just smile about it since we cannot change it.
Not content with being a nice guy, Blair is a Rotarian and attends local meetings once a week. He pitches in for all their projects and recently directed traffic for two different events, even though at home he has a staff of servants to wait on him all the time.
Blair is the kind of snowbird we all welcome every year, and we should remember to behave like that when we visit foreign countries ourselves, instead of complaining about local customs and expecting everyone to speak our native language.
It takes all kinds of people, doesn’t it?