Thursday, August 4, 2016

The American Dream Is Alive and Well . . . in Wales

First of all, our President, Barack Obama, appears to be widely respected even in the conservative rural areas of the Principality of Wales. I heard not a negative word and some praise for him. It usually came in contrast to the absolute incredulity that the U.S. is actually considering Trump as a presidential candidate. I heard no good words about him. It was generally neutral to positive in a practical sense on Hillary with a few jokes at her husband's expense.

Our innkeeper on the Wye River said that he has yet to meet an American who supports Trump - or will admit it. Maybe that's just the nature of American travelers. I admit that I had a Hillary button/badge on my day pack. But the issue did seem to keep coming up as the British still seem fascinated by us Americans of the U.S. variety in particular.

The clincher was a personal experience with an Enterprise Rent-a-Car employee.

As an aside, I must note that Enterprise has earned my undying customer loyalty, not only because they replaced my punctured tyre without asking any difficult questions about how it could have possibly happened, and not just because they pick you up because as the guy said, "When you need a car, how are you supposed to get to us if we don't pick you up?" And it wasn't just that the Enterprise in Hammersmith, just outside London, let me use their toilet when I was in desperate need.

Enterprise in Hammersmith, U.K. Restroom available if you ask them in polite desperation.
Back to the Enterprise guy in Cardiff. He was new on the job and kept checking things to get it right and he did just fine and was most helpful. He was a former Royal Marine for which I complimented him for his service, even if not one of our Vets, they've been stuck with us recently. He said that he had been in the U.S., New York, including upstate on a visit. I told him Upstate New York, not the city, was much more representative of the rest of the U.S. And he had been on a joint Marine training program at 29 Palms, California, so he did know the Mojave Desert - and Vegas, on leave. I let it stay there. I told him that Utah was a much nicer desert at higher altitude and better scenery with mountains to boot.

Then, he turned quickly to me and like a little boy excited about Santa and Christmas asked, "Have you been to Colorado?" I said that I knew it pretty well.

"Oh, I would so love to live in Colorado! Maybe Denver or Boulder, with the mountains close by! And have a pickup truck! We have pickup trucks but they're not like they have in the U.S."

I told him that Boulder would be better than Denver without deflating any dreams with the cost of living - or the price of those big pickups.

It was stunning. Colorado and pickup trucks are not my version of the American Dream, but they sure were to this young man. And there's nothing wrong with that. His avid sincerity convinced me.

I don't know if he'll ever get here. He said that he loved Cardiff and that it was home to him. And I told him how much I liked Cardiff and the land of my ancestors. He said that everything is so big and spread out in the U.S. And I had to admit our roads were a little wider.

What still looms large is our American Dream of wide, open spaces. Wide lands, and roads, of opportunity for all.

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