Amidst the chaos, I found the American Express card's near universal rejection almost comical. I've come to Europe many times in the past and seen acceptance of the Amex card spotty at best. Now, in the wake of the global crisis and the eight years of damage done to America's global image by Messrs Bush and Cheney, I'm experiencing outright contempt by local retailers when I do present the Amex card. One Glaswegian restauranteur sniffed and said, "An American Express card? Are you kidding? Not only are their retailer charges totally excessive, but they treat us like dirt. And, a card with the word 'American' in it?" he asked, with an arched eyebrow. "Put it away now," he advised.
U.K. media are in a positive tizzy over the G20 Summit meeting in London. Some headlines suggest it's now or never for the world's economic future. Others predict embattled British Prime Minister Gordon Brown needs to pull an economic rabbit out of his hat to hold onto his job. And, those omni-present paparazzi marvel at Michelle Obama's wardrobe ("……It's spot on, Penny" or "…..I must say I find it a tad too upscale for these times, Fiona" ).
Other headlines warn "City" employees to dress down. They say that irate working class Brits are livid at their banking sector peers and might very well follow their French peers' lead and hold bankers hostage, rough them up or even worse. "…….So, keep those suits and ties on the hanger for the time being," warned The Times of London.
Security and media outside the Royal Bank of Scotland in London in anticipation of protests
Yes, Virginia, being an American on European holiday can be a dodgy thing (as the Scots like to say). We're being blamed for everything from Middle East discord and terrorism to the economic recession and global warming (source: our Ben Nevis guide). If it's bad, it's America's fault.
I've found avoiding the BBC news feeds helps. So, too, does mountain climbing and stand-up comedy. Now, I can add another stress buster to my personal "to do" list. Leave the American Express card at home.
It's too bad Karl Malden's no longer among the living. American Express could dust him off, throw him a few greenbacks and have him insert the word "WITH" instead of "WITHOUT" in those old "…Don't leave home…" TV commercials. Come to think of it, they may want to consider a name change in about 150 countries outside the U.S.