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Sixteenth Sort

Safety tips for the American traveller.

by Dear Jon
January 15, 2001

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Sixteenth Sort_Dear Jon-Safety tips for the American traveller. Dear Jon: What was the deal with that whole Israeli-Palestinian thing? I thought this was a humor column! Sincerely, Bored.

Dear Bored, There you go again, assuming that Dear Jon has a one-track mind. I never promised an endless supply of laughter. I did say that I have lots of opinions, and that this is why the Dear Jon column exists.


ACTUAL LETTER TO DEAR JON:

Dear Jon: I have some vacation time coming up in the next few months and thinking about traveling to another country. Which foreign country would you
consider the most "American friendly?" Which would you consider the least?
Signed, World-traveler


Dear Traveler: To really open the doors of the world, travel with a Canadian passport. Then you won't need to worry about which countries are American friendly, since everyone loves Canadians because they are just as rich as Americans but don't have to be blamed for anything.

If you must travel as an American, here are some safety tips:

1. Do not pass through the checkpoints of any country that says, "We Welcome All Visitors Except the Imperialist Minions and Secret Agents of the Great
Satan."

2. Leave your July Fourth patriotic wear, including the cap that reads "America RULES!" at home.

3. Do not exchange all your currency. Many people in underdeveloped countries, especially in Latin America or Eastern Europe, appreciate being tipped in American dollars. You may be surprised at the buying power of the U.S. dollar abroad.

4. If you happen to witness a demonstration of protestors burning the American flag outside of a U.S. consulate, do not, I repeat, DO NOT, walk into the crowd and shout, "Hey! I'm an American! That's MY flag you're burning!"

5. When a gunman in a checkered hood points you to a black van, respond by saying, "How's it goin', eh? I'm from Canada, ya know." Hopefully he will leave you alone after that.

6. Business executives should carry hostage insurance no matter where they visit.

7. Japan considers itself friendly to American tourists. In Japan, "friendliness" means they stand ten feet away from each, smile and bow, but don't say anything because that might intrude on your business. If you come closer than that, you might be a prostitute, which changes the whole dynamic.

8. The French do not think they are rude. The French think Americans are boorish. I hope to visit France one day with a lot of American money, and just strut around and be obnoxious.

9. It is considered impolite, on the nude beaches of Europe, to introduce yourself to a sunbather with any comment or compliment related to her anatomy.

10. There is no word in the Italian language to express the concept of "sexual harassment."

11. When in Germany, don't talk about the war. That was a long time ago.

12. Remember: Mexican policemen are not anti-American. They are pro-bribery. Always have small American currency on hand.

13. Many things about the English will impress you. Their humor is more sophisticated. Their theater is more professional. If you are humble and interested as a tourist, their conversation is more enlightening. Their history is much deeper and older, receding into myth and mystery. But at meal-times take the Super-train and eat in France.

14. Do not, I repeat, DO NOT, go on a spray-painting binge with your drunk buddies while in Singapore.

The most American-friendly country is Canada. The least American-friendly country is whomever we've bombed most recently.


Coming Thursday: For the first time ever, only actual Dear Jon letters will appear!

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