Carried on from the conversation at:
Canada Sucks. 'Nuff said.
Where have you been? Where were the people nice? Where were the people ruder than hell? Any funny stories to tell about rudeness or kindness? I'll start off.
Paris, 1992: I'm 16 and exploring the city near my hotel on my own. I was in France with a school group; there were 5 of us from my school, 5 from Atlanta, and about 20 kids from Omaha. I can't remember how I ended up on my own, but there I was. Our hotel was near the Champs Elysees and I remember wanting to go to the Virgin Superstore. I came out of the store and was walking back to the hotel when it started thundering. I ignored it because it does that all the time in my native Texas without raining. About ten seconds later, the skies opened and it was POURING down with rain. The streets cleared almost immediately; it went from crowded to nearly abandoned and I seemed to be the only person in Paris who didn't have an umbrella.
I was a kid, alone, soaking wet, and scared. What's more, in my hurry to get out of the rain, I had gotten myself slightly lost on a side street; I wasn't sure where I was. I sheltered under an awning and started to cry. Paris's pollution is pretty bad, and they have had a problem with acid rain in the past. This rain was pretty acidic (rain is slightly acidic anyway) and it was raising welts on my skin, adding to my misery. A woman passed by me, saw me, and came over to comfort me. I was very upset by this point so I couldn't communicate very well in French. Luckily, she spoke English. She asked me where my hotel was. I told her, and it was in the opposite direction to where she was going. She shrugged her shoulders, gathered me under her umbrella with her, and walked me all the way back to my hotel. She told me to wash my clothes immediately due to the polluted rain (otherwise they'd stain and have a pretty nasty smell), then she hugged me and was on her way. She was right about the clothing; I soaked my shirt and jeans overnight but didn't bother to wash my bra; I just dried it and wore another one. These weird brown and yellow stains came up on the material, it stank of something I can't quite describe, and it never came clean again. I had to throw it away.
San Diego, 1997: My mother and I went to southern California together on a kind of mother-daughter trip after I graduated from college. She and her mother had done a trip to New York together in 1967 after she graduated from college, so it's sort of a tradition in our fam. I picked southern California over New York. Anyway, we're in SD just coming off a long day of doing touristy things. We went back to our hotel, changed, and were on our way to the TGI Friday's that I'd seen from the highway.
One thing I noticed immediately about California is that the highway system is very different from ours in Texas, where frontage roads are the norm and geography makes most things very easy to get to. Just because you could see it from the highway doesn't mean it's easy to get to. So, mom found a road running alongside the 10 and we're looking all over for this restaurant. We were near the baseball field, and a Padres game was just getting out so the traffic was kind of heavy. We stopped at a traffic light and there was a cop right behind us. Light turns green, mom goes, cop turns his lights on immediately and pulls us over. Mom is shitting herself, wondering what it is she did to get pulled over.
So, the cop strolls up to the window, asks for license and registration. Mom forks over her license and he says "Oh, Texas? How are you enjoying our city?" and basically makes pleasant conversation while mom paws all over the car for the registration. It's a rental, so she's not sure where it is. So the cop asks for the rental contract instead. She is looking all over for it...so am I...and I can tell the cop is getting bored, so I ask him why he pulled my mom over. He explained that when she stopped at the traffic light, she was over the heavy white line. Mom was shocked. She explained that in Texas, everybody does that and she's never seen anyone pulled over for it. It's true; I've never seen it either and I slopped over that line all the time in Texas. She's losing it at this point, starting to cry since she's very nervous about being pulled over on vacation, and the cop just says, "Y'know what, forget it...I'll let it go since you're new in town. You didn't know...just don't do it again." He was SO polite, and he smiled when he said it. He could have totally given us a ticket, but he didn't. So, he's about to turn to walk away when I shout, "Hey, officer? Can you tell us how to get to that TGI Friday's we saw from the highway?" Mom is hissing "shut up, shut up!" at me but the cop strolls back over, pulls out a pad, and tells us how to get there while drawing a map. He was so polite about it; no sighs, no eyerolls, nothing. He was so nice. I wrote a letter to the SDPD about the incident when I got back to Texas, complimenting his kindness and judgement. I never caught his name or badge number.