I was talking to a local taxi driver yesterday, as he drove me to an unexplored section of town, and we began discussing Americans. He’d lived in the States for a few years and was effusive about how nice most Americans were, which I appreciated – especially now.
I mused that we are, as a breed, a bit spoiled and totally intolerant of imperfections. He chuckled and nodded. “Yes, but so nice.” Then I knew he was being very kind himself.
Make no mistake, I count myself among the overindulged and previously intolerant of flaws. I can easily slide back into that frame of mind if I don’t watch myself.
Here’s what I mean. As I traveled around SE Asia, I would become very irritated by the way the painting was done. Brand-new paint jobs on the walls of my rooms and other areas would have drip spots left on the floor and irregular edges along the ceiling. Nothing drove me crazier than spotting these blemishes.
I wondered, “Why can’t they just do a good job?” The attitude continued through Central America, where I traveled next and the “problem” continued.
One day, somewhere in Nicaragua, I suddenly thought, “Why does this bother me so much?” And I realized that I’d been brought up with an expectation of perfection, or at least the striving for it. I was imposing that ideal on cultures that had absolutely no use for it.
Occasionally, this long-held belief seeps into my brain even still. This morning, I nearly rejected one of the very cute little coffee cups provided in my apartment because there was a tiny pimple in the bottom of it where the ceramic hadn’t completely met in the firing. I’ve done that several times – just put it back in the cupboard. Today, I stopped my reflex reaction and used the “imperfect” cup, chuckling to myself.
Yes, it’s inbred and I suppose I’ll carry strains of it forever but at least I’m progressing!