When Burdick and Lederer wrote The Ugly American in 1958 the political novel took on a new meaning; someone who was rude, obnoxious, and out of place in their surroundings outside of North America. The phrase, unfortunately, has never gone out of style and while Marla and I were in Mexico this last week we saw that not only is the phrase alive and thriving but so are the Ugly Americans.
We were on a tour bus when three Canadians; yes I know they are Americans but not United States Americans, got on. Each weighed in excess of three hundred pounds. They were loud, rude, and overbearing. They cut off the tour guide whenever they could with lewd innuendoes and sexual overtones. They were in effect everything one thinks of when one thinks of the worst of tourists.
As bakers we must be cognizant of everyone. We should not and cannot insult anyone, unless they deserve it by being as these were; over the top jerks, and we must be careful to offend no one as we ply our trade. However good conscience also dictates that we take these bores to task whenever possible. Unfortunately it was not possible to do anything about the three obese Canadians other than to leave the tour as soon as we could and hope they got arrested by the Mexican Police; which unfortunately didn’t happen.
It is all too easy now to push a button and send a message you shouldn’t. It was all too easy in their case to open their mouths and say things that were both stupid and rude. Guide your customers to be better consumers and they will be better Americans, whether they come from the United States, Canada, Japan, or where ever. Use American as a metaphor for anyone who is visiting another country and don’t be Ugly. Remember those people you encounter are bakers too and their cookies are just as important to them as yours are to you. You don’t want someone to be Ugly Americans to you so why would you be Ugly Americans to them?