“The American people”
Christina Ruffini is a 23-year-old woman from Bologna, Italy , who spent a year in San Diego as a governess and taking flying lessons toward her pilot’s license. She remember the time she hitchhiked up the California coast and what this experience taught her about Americans:
Americans can be very generous. Once a girlfriend and I hitchhiked from Los Angeles to San Francisco. What I liked was that the people who picked up were very worried about us. TThey always wanted to help us. One couple asked us if we wanted money so that we could take a bus instead of hitchhiking. And they wanted nothing back. Later we hitched a ride to Salinas with a truck driver. He was also worried about our safety and tried over his CB radio to fix us up with a ride with another trucker from Salinas to San Francisco. When he could not, he told us, “I do not want to lleave you on the street, so I will take you up myself to make sure you get there safely.” And then he drove us to San Francisco and dropped us off on Market Street where we were going to stay. AAnd he didin’t want anything back. He would not let pay him. That trip was a highlight of my stay in America.
From an interview with the author, June 17, 1988
Richard Ingrams, a reporter for the Illustrated London News, enjoyed a memorable encounter with a street beggar near Watington:
On our way down the hill from Monticello, Alexander remarked on another curios fact about Americans: “If you look at them, they always smile. I find that rather disconcerting.” Personally, I said I found it rather nice, and a pleasant change from the dour and suspicious looks one gets from one’s fellow countrymen.
In fact what is nice about America is not the scenery or the skyscrapers.. It is the smiling, open attitude of tthe American people. On my last morning in Georgetown I found myself confronted in the main street by a large, beaming, bearded man. “Good morning, sir,” he cried. “I’m a bum! Would you give me some money?”
No cringing. No pretence about cups of tea. A frank, straightforward approach to the situation. I immediately fished in my pocket for all available change – something I would never do in England – and decided I would probably be back quite soon.
From “Stars aand Gripes,” in the Illustrated London News, September 1987
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