Saturday, March 22, 2003

I think this speaks very well of the Americans, personally.

Sydney, Australia, is a port in the Pacific Ocean in a country that is very friendly to the United States. Therefore, ships of the US Pacific fleet call in fairly regularly. These visits probably do not have much military purpose, but Sydney is clearly a popular place for the US sailors to have some shore leave, and the US gets a fair amount of goodwill out of the visits. In particular, when aircraft carriers (usually the USS Constellation or the USS Kitty Hawk) have visited Sydney harbour in recent years, enormous numbers of people have queued up to go aboard and have a look around. (I have done this myself, and when I did this I was allowed to get much closer to the aircraft than has been the case at air shows, for instance. I was able touch the F-14s and F/A-18s, crawl under them, etc). And of course, when a carrier is in town, the bars and restaurants of Sydney are full of sailors.

On one such occasion, I recall a little piece in one of the Sydney newspapers. A woman had been driving down a freeway, and had had a flat tyre. This woman was struggling with the tyre at the side of the road when a rental car containing several young men in uniform pulled up. The woman was interrupted with "Excuse me ma'am, can we help you?", and the men quickly jacked up the woman's car and changed her tyre for her, before going on their way. Apparently, back in Iowa, or Kansas, or wherever, that is just the way young men are brought up. If you see a woman who has stopped with a flat tyre, you stop and help her. It is kind of sweet, really.

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