My British attitude keeps getting me into trouble.
In the United States they once nearly lynched me because of it.
It was one of those BPM conferences, with lots of debate around the latest trends and the future of the business process world.
During lunch, the crowd moved towards the food hall.
It was a hot summer day, and the cooling in the building couldn’t compete with the hundreds of participants.
Luckily, in the corner of the room there was a little table with the sign “Iced Tea”.
I smiled at the waitress.
“Glass of cold tea please.. without ice”
“Yes, sir” the waitress answered and dropped half a dozen ice cubes into my tea.
“Sorry..” I said. “I asked for ‘without ice'”
“You want iced tea, mister”
“I want cold tea”
The girl tilted her head, somewhat puzzled, and dropped a few more ice cubes into my tea.
“There you are, Next!”
“Sorry, my dear” I told her “I want it without ice..”
“You can’t have it without ice. Next!”
“Why can’t I?”
“The tea is free. Next!”
“But ice makes my teeth ache. Why can’t you give me a glass of tea just as it is, without putting ice in it?””
“What?” she sputtered, “I don’t get you mister. Everyone puts ice in iced tea”
The people in the queue behind me started muttering about idiots that waste valuable conference time, but at the same time I decided to stick to my guns..”
“Still, I want it without ice..”
The waitress realized that she had done her duty, so she called over her manager.
“This man wants iced tea, without ice“, the waitress complained. “Whoever heard of such a thing?”
“My dear sir” – the manager turned to me – “In the United States of America we drink our iced tea with ice and there has never been any complaints.”
“I’m sure there weren’t” I replied, “But I don’t drink my drinks too cold; what’s why I want it without ice”
The manager looked at me, frowning.
“What do you mean, you don’t?” What’s good for 300 million Americans isn’t good enough for you?
“Ice gives me a tooth ache”, I explained
The manager laid his brows in deep furrows, trying to figure it all out, but obviously my request didn’t make sense to him.
“We have been serving iced tea at BPM conferences for the last twenty years. We have never had any complaints”
“I don’t want it with ice!”
By then the frustrated conference attendees had encircled me and were rolling up their sleeves for the lynching. The manager decided that the time was right for losing his temper.
“In the United States of America you drink your tea with ice!” he roared. I’ve never seen such an idiot in my life!”
“I know your kind. Nothing is good enough for you. Where are you from?”
“Who, me?… from Australia” I lied.
“Just as I thought” said the manager.
Then I had to run for my life, with the irate crowd in hot pursuit.
But that was only the beginning. Wherever I went, American public opinion was slowly turning against Australia.
Something has to be done about all those Aussies…