Rudy's View: Just in Time
This week, the BBC interviewed me for a program about radio travel shows, and some of the questions were typical: Why are Americans so geographically ignorant? Why are American's so fearful to travel? Why did we stop going to Europe when Iraq invaded Kuwait? Were we afraid the short-range SCUD missiles might accidentally fall on Paris?
I know it's a rep some of us deserve. We live in such a big country, many of us never get out of it - can you believe only about 14 per cent of Americans have passports. I'm always disappointed, for example, when I meet fellow countrymen who think all of Asia is the same-that there's no difference between Tokyo and Bangkok, that every Asian city is crowded with rickshaw drivers. Never mind there are no rickshaws in Tokyo or Bangkok and that the two working rickshaws left in Hong Kong exist only for tourists to photograph.
But then I remembered something: the last time I was in London, I caught an episode of their "Who Wants to Be A Millionaire?" The contestant was from London, and the 16,000 pound question was this: "In what country will you find the city of Frankfurt?" She hemmed, and hawed - she'd already used all her lifelines. And guess what - she got it wrong!
Part of me couldn't believe it. But, part of me was delighted. Hey, if someone in the UK didn't know Frankfurt was in Germany - and, remember, this was multiple choice! - then we Yanks aren't the only laggards. Believe me, it was the perfect anecdote to lay on this BBC reporter. For once, I remembered something at just the right time.
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