'Good Morning!' as a Defense Mechanism in Modern America
Mike (in Tokyo) Rogers
by Mike (in Tokyo) Rogers: Fourteen-Year-Old
Transvestites, Racists, Murder and Jr. High School: Welcome to America
salutations! They are no longer to say "Hello!" they are
a defense mechanism.
I went to America
a few months ago to see my deathly ill father. I didn't want to
go to America. I hate going to that place.
Why do I hate
going to America? Well, there's something very wrong about that
country. From the moment you land at the airport – I always land
at Los Angeles International (LAX) – there's a tension in the air.
I can't put my finger on it exactly but it seems like a racial tension.
It certainly got worse after the Los Angeles riots of the early
1990's after the LA police beat up Rodney King.
realize that America is an extremely messed up place and they will
talk about it and complain about it amongst themselves but they
will take umbrage with you if you, as an outsider, bring it up.
know that their kid is an idiot but they don't like it if you say
one royally messed up place. Though most Americans recognize that
fact, many are in serious denial or think that it is "still the
best country in the world!"
is so used to being treated like a third-class citizen that they
fail to comprehend what has happened to their country. Most Americans
are so blind that they think it is normal to be yelled at by police
on a street or scolded at the airport and treated like cattle. They
think that this kind of behavior is normal.
Well, it is
not. It's bizarre and uniquely American.
Why don't Americans
recognize how bad that country has become? I suppose it's kind of
like the frog in the slowly boiling water: Things have been going
to hell in a hand basket so slowly that Americans cannot see what
kind of a crappy third-world country that place has become.
reason I hate going to that place are the police and the airport.
You know, there’s
a joke going around all over the world;
you tell the American at the airport?"
are the ones stripping naked!"
Ha! Ha! Really
When you go
to any other civilized country in the world, and leave, they don't
ask you to strip down naked and take off your shoes like the USA
does. They don't ask that you go through an X-ray machine like the
USA does. They don’t normally strip you of your dignity like the
Ask me why
I hate going to that place.
The last time
I went to a foreign country, besides the USA, I went to Hong Kong.
Weird, those Chinese communists. Those people are polite and actually
pleased that you come to visit and spend your hard earned cash.
They are polite and kind to you! Can you believe it? They treat
you with respect! What's their problem? I had the same problems
whenever I visited any other country in Eastern Asia or Oceania:
The border and customs officials were polite and seemed happy to
have me and my wife and children visit.
aren't they? I mean, who wouldn't think a guy who looks like a middle-class
white American dude with his Japanese wife and 6-year-old son and
two teenage daughters (with their Gucci bags and makeup) aren't
terrorists with bombs strapped under their clothing ready to suicide
themselves for the freedom of Designerbagistan?
The USA? The
surly immigration agent looks at my USA passport, his lips curl
at the corners and he barks in a most foul attitude,
"What is your
purpose in visiting the USA?"
"Uh, I am an
American!" I say. But I think, "Duh! I have an US passport,
dummy! Why do you think I am here? What is your purpose in being
such a dolt?"
And that brings
me to an interesting thing I heard from an American woman living
in Tokyo the other day. We were talking about this very same subject.
She said that she recently went back to New York and was surprised
because people were "nicer" than she remembered them being. She
had been living in Japan since the year 2000.
I asked her
to explain what she meant by "people being 'nicer'."
She said that
wherever she went, to stores or shops, it seemed that people were
friendlier and more polite than she remembered. She said that when
she was at a coffee shop, whenever customers walked in, they would
always say a very polite "good morning" to the clerks and staff.
American people do this. I've noticed it too. It is much more pronounced
than it used to be before 9/11. In fact, this "overly politeness"
has escalated as the recent years go by.
I have pondered
about this and why it happens as I love to watch people and, in
my amateur views on humanity and social behavior, reason why people
act the way they do.
When I was
in the USA a few months ago, I saw this very same behavior by people
in many places I went. It has been becoming more and more pronounced
as the US police state grows and crime grows along with it.
I didn't usually
notice these overly friendly salutations at chain restaurants such
as a McDonald's or fried chicken establishments like KFC or Popeye’s.
Nor did I see it at large, very crowded restaurants. (I did, though,
notice many security cameras at a McDonald's that I stopped at to
get a cup of coffee off the freeway heading back to LAX). I noticed
this sort of overly friendly greetings and gestures at small restaurants
like corner donut shops, liquor stores or out of the way mom & pop
I noticed this
sort of behavior by customers at these small shops and these small
I wondered, "why are people acting so overly friendly? Isn't it
I did some
very surface research
about crime in my home county and found that more than
10% of all felonies were robbery (with 85% being assault)... When
it came to property offenses, over 1/3 were theft.
image is wrong, but it seems to me that robberies of these little
corner shops and mom and pop restaurants are far more prevalent
than robberies of big chain restaurants and establishments that
are full of customers. Low traffic and poor security seem to me
to make an easier target.
So, how does
this abnormally high amount of extremely friendly greeting work
as a self-defense mechanism? It dawned on me at a coffee shop in
It was 7 am
or so. I walked in. The shop’s clerks nervously looked at me. They
were a Vietnamese couple. Nice folks. I quietly said (in what used
to be a normal voice in the USA), "Good morning." I made my order.
After me several others came in. They all gave out a very loud "Good
morning!" (It seemed too loud, in fact)... Everyone did this as
they filed in and out of the shop. I sat down and enjoyed my coffee
at one of the two (dirty) tables available.
One after another,
people came in with a very loud, "Good morning to you!" "How are
you today?" etc. Nevertheless, there was that tension in the air
whenever someone new walked in. It was the same tension I always
felt at LAX.
If you always
lived in Southern California, you'd probably never notice it. But
if you lived outside of the USA for any period of time, this tension
is very heavy and like soup in the air; it is a very heavy fog.
is in the air. The people all greet in a loud, yet mechanical way.
"What is the reason?" I thought....
I believe that
this excessively friendly greeting and attitude was a method of
self-defense. When these people walk into an establishment
like the ones described above, they say a hearty (exaggeratedly
friendly) "Good morning!" The true meaning of this greeting
is not a de facto, "Good morning!" it actually means,
"Don't worry about me. I am a safe person and mean you no harm.
I just want to come and go about my business. I am not dangerous
disarms people and allows them not to worry and can give them a
chance to relax... Like I said, it is a defense mechanism.
It is just
one more reason why the USA has gone to hell in a hand basket. People
must now announce their intentions in coded language to others to
show that they mean no harm. It used to be the other way around;
people expected others to be civil; that was normal and a matter
It used to
be that it was normal behavior that everyone was not a criminal
and only criminals announced their intentions upon entering and
establishment by way of saying something like, "This is a robbery!
Put your hands up!" Now, in 2011 USA, normal people must disarm
others by announcing that they are not criminals by saying "Good
will scoff at this idea. But, deny it as you wish, it is pretty
difficult for any human being to shut off their basic human survival
mechanism regardless of what country they are living in.
USA it is necessary to let others know that you have no ill-intentions
It used to
be obvious and common that people had no ill-intentions towards
others... In today's USA? One never knows. In today's USA you must
broadcast your intentions.
It is a bizarre
and sad state of affairs.
(in Tokyo) Rogers [send
him mail] was born and raised in the USA and moved to
Japan in 1984. He is the president of an Internet & Cross Media
advertising/marketing agency and a media production company named
He writes about marketing, the Internet and Social Media at the
Marketing Japan blog. His book, Schizophrenic
in Japan, went on sale in 2005.
© 2011 by LewRockwell.com. Permission to reprint in whole or in
part is gladly granted, provided full credit is given.
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