I went to International schools my whole life, which meant that my teachers were from all over the world. My English teacher in middle school was Irish, and I’ll never forget a story he gleefully told me in front of the whole class about what supposedly happened to him on a train over the weekend.
Chatting in English with his wife, he caught the attention of a young married American couple. They got to talking, and the couple told them about how they had always wanted to visit Italy, particularly Florence. For years they had dreamed of taking this romantic trip, and now they had managed to save up enough money and they were riding the rails to see as much of the country as they could. As they were on a Southbound train heading towards Rome, my teacher assumed that they had already stopped in Florence. “So”, he asked them, “How did you like Florence? Was it all you hoped it would be?”
“Oh”, the woman replied, “We couldn’t find it! But we stayed in a lovely place called Firenze!”
My teacher told me that he simply did not have the heart to break it to her. We all laughed uproariously, many did so at my expense given that I was the only part-American in the class, and I still remember the story to this day.
Often I doubt the veracity of these stories, simply because I cannot imagine that people could be so dense. However, if they are true, I also believe that they are definitely not American-specific phenomena. Take, for instance, this little story, which I have seen reported on a few different news outlets
Let’s all just take a moment and laugh at ignorance. When we’re done, back to the thankless job of trying to educate people one step at a time.