I have mentioned the whole idea of the ugly American in the past. I recently had another encounter with one.
I was interpreting for a group while they went shopping in Mexico. The group was in a hurry to move from one area of town to another. Everyone had made their purchases at one of the jewelry stores when the ugly American found the perfect gift for his daughter. They were a set of earrings that probably only cost $6 or so.
The way the store works is you tell the lady which item you would like to purchase. She then writes up a receipt that you take to the cashier whom you pay. Depending on the store, you either have to take the receipt which is now stamped “paid” to the original clerk to get your item, or she brings it to you at the cash register. Either way, the person who handles the merchandise and the person who handles the money are separate people. They each have a copy of the receipts to show what they sold and what they received money for. It is a process that is slow, but leaves a very good paper trail.
This man was in a hurry and insisted that the clerk handling the merchandise take his money and let him leave the store. She was very hesitant to do so, but she also wanted to make the sale. She took the money and he ran out the door.
The problem is, that though this system basically says that the store does not trust its employees, one or both of these girls could lose their job over this. The system has been circumvented. Both girls could go into cahoots and make everything right. But now, you have two people who know that the other has stepped over the line of procedure. When something comes up missing and the boss does an inquiry, they can both say that they know for certain the other girl has gone outside the process at least once.
Whether either girl will lose their job over it is not the point. This is not the way we do it in the US. But the ugly American does not know, nor care. He wants it done his way or it is wrong. He does not want to be inconvenienced by a different system.
I tried explaining it to him. He seemed concerned that someone could lose their job over it. But mostly he was frustrated that he had to go through all these steps to buy the item he wanted. Never mind that he got a nice set of silver earrings from Mexico for a great price and could have enjoyed the experience of something new. The ugly American wants to go to new places but wants it to be just like home.