Friendly Americans. Yup, I said it.

I wonder whether Americans get a bad rap. A bad rap from us Canadians that tend to see our southern neighbours as a loud, obnoxious and boorish lot. My experience in the US recently opened my eyes that we shouldn’t paint them all with that simplistic brush.

All of the people we encountered at the hotel, in retail shops and on tours were remarkably friendly and helpful. I understand Las Vegas and attractions away from the bright lights are focused on tourism and therefore should be welcoming to visitors, but the levels of engagement and sincerity were noteworthy.uncle sam happy face

Take retail staff for example. In every store we entered, we were greeted by staff. Not in the lame Walmart fashion we’re used to in urban Alberta, but with a warm, friendly welcome along the lines of: “Good day (big smile). Welcome to such-and-such. If there’s anything you need, please let us know.” And when we looked for assistance, it was prompt and useful – staff knew their merchandise. What a refreshing change from our consistent experience here in River City. You know what I’m talking about: the disinterested young staff member on the floor. The vacant stare when you ask questions about a product. The rolled-eyes from staffers when you have the nerve – the AUDACITY – to interrupt their giggly chit-chat about that hunk at last night’s party.

Our interactions in Nevada stores were always positive, regardless of the type of business it was. From the Ross discount store to the posh Venetian Hotel, from a bevy of restaurants to the Coach clearance outlet, we were helped with big smiles and left the premises with friendly goodbyes.

(As an aside, that Coach store is absurd! Never been in one before, never knew purses could cost that much. They must be breeding some regal breed of cud-munchers to make those status bags. Oi vey.)

On our tour to the Hoover Dam and Grand Canyon, we spent a 12-hour day with our American tour guide and three couples from the States: one each from Texas, New Mexico, and Kentucky. Friendliest strangers you’d ever want to spend a day with. Warm, polite, and engaging. Well, except for the moment when I brought up the blown call in the playoffs against Dallas with the Cowboys fan in our group. Apparently, that was still too fresh a wound for him. Americans do take their football seriously!

All in all, we had a fantastic week in Nevada, enriched by pleasant and sociable Americans. It was a welcome surprise, and this Canadian is glad for it.

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