As most of my regular readers know, I'm not averse to world travel. Been there, done that, seen the movie and bought the thawb and ghutra. I've worked in many a country. When I'm in those countries, I have made it a point to be respectful of the laws and customs for whatever particular locale in which I'm residing.
When I'm in Tokyo, I bow respectfully to my co-workers but still avoid the sushi (or, as I like to call it, bait). When I'm in England, I don't diss football (their version), I don't joke about foods with names like Spotted Dick and Toad in the Hole (though I do snicker privately), and I don't drive on the right side of the road as opposed to the left. When I'm in Saudi Arabia, I don't walk down the street in the daytime during Ramadan drinking a beer and eating a pork chop with some hot chick in a bikini on my arm.
It's what my parents taught me long ago. The name, apparently lost in today's modern world, was once called "common courtesy."
One part of that courtesy was accepting the fact that I had to use local currency when I was outside the good'ol U. S. of A. So, I'd make it a point to find a local Bureaux de Change or Cambio (when you travel, you learn to look for those words real quick, along with the initials WC [different service there]) to turn my greenbacks into redbacks, bluebacks, orangebacks, and several other equally colorful backs of local value. I kinda liked the fact that the bills were different sizes, but that was more of a novelty factor than a true aide in paying whatever tab I had to settle. If I used an ATM, I'd get the cash in local legal tender, and the funds would come out of my account in dollars (following a healthy exchange cut taken by the bank(s), of course). It didn't take me long to learn the coinage, and since I can count to 100, and I'm not totally bereft of numerary skills, I am able to pay the taxi driver, the grocery store clerk, the waiter and the porno shop owner with equal flair and accuracy.
That courtesy, however, only seems to work one way. The "ugly American" concept is one where we expect all other countries to bow to us. Yet, it seems that we "uglies" are the ones who must constantly put up with the discourteous and indeed impudent actions of people not of this nation.
Don't believe me?
Well, here (as the British would say) is the thin edge of the wedge. Or, perhaps, the slice.
In Dallas, Texas (which, at last check, was still in the United States of America), a regional pizza chain known as Pizza Patrón has, according to a story in the Dallas Morning News ( click here ), announced that it is going to start doling out its wares to customers who pay not with the legal tender of this great land, but with the (ig)noble Peso of our (not-so-neighborly) neighbors south of the Border.
That's right. The noble American Pizza (yes, yes, I know the Italians technically invented it -- we just made it BETTER!) can now be purchased in an American Pizza chain, not with American Dollars, but with Pesos.
I can't tell you how many times I've caught hell in several restaurants, laundromats, and arcades for inadvertently handing them a Canadian coin intermixed with the American stuff. Which meant that somebody else had fobbed off the offending filthy lucre on me without my notice, leaving me a day late and several American cents short.
Now, an American-based Pizza chain which apparently caters to a high number of non-American patrons within American borders will accept foreign currency?
We already have to bend over and grab the ankles for illegal aliens of every nationality. We have to open the orifice while legislators insert ballots in dozens of languages. Hell, the government doesn't even grease up the signs that say "Hablamos Espanola" anymore prior to obtruding them up the wrong end of our digestive tracts.
So now, we've got to personally insert multiple foreign currencies aka "Papillion"?
Sorry, but if a furr'ner wants to do trade or commerce in this country, s/he should go to a bank, exchange the foreign currency for American, and THEN go out and buy a [insert favorite expletive here for deletion] pizza!
I'm not even sure if such a process is technically legal. If I'm not mistaken (and I've worked in banking -- local and international -- for many years), the only currency recognized for the payment of debts and obligations within the United States is the U.S. Dollar. The only area where that rule doesn't apply is in the Duty Free zones of an air or sea port, and even then the stores there stick you something fierce for the exchange rate. For Pizza Patrón to do something like this, would it not have to apply as a currency exchange facility? Furthermore, would that not entail Pizza Patrón coming under banking regulations as well as pizza regulations? (Yes, I'm certain that there are pizza regulations -- God knows, everything else in this country is regulated in some fashion...)
If Pizza Patrón is indeed planning to perform a currency exchange, it has to advertise the buy/sell rates plus any further fees (flat or percentage) in order for the consumer to understand just how badly it is screwing the customer for the privilege. I believe Pizza Patrón would also have some rather interesting accounting activities it will have to go through in order to ensure it is paying the correct levels of sales/restaurant/federal/state/local/thumb tax. It also has to ensure it separates the different currencies in such-and-such a manner so as to not accidentally give the wrong change or mess things up for the customer or bank. In addition, the banks who serve Pizza Patrón have to be able to handle currency exchange (not all banks do this).
Would Pizza Patrón go to so much trouble for its AMERICAN-paying customers? Methinks the answer is nay.
I'm also interested why Pizza Patrón is accepting pesos in an American restaurant for an Italian-based product. Shouldn't it be taking payment in Lira? Unless it is selling a Taco Pizza to the customer, of course...
Look, free enterprise and free trade doesn't mean that a company can fly in the face of the law, or even in the face of its customer base in the nation where it is based. When I'm in Tokyo, I pay for a Big Mac in Yen. When I'm in the UK, I pay in Pounds and Pence. When I'm in Riyadh, I pay in Riyals and Hallallahs. I don't pay in dollars.
So why should Tourists, Legal Immigrants and Illegal Aliens pay for American Products in an American Restaurant in an American City with Mexican Pesos? Or any other currency beyond the U.S. Dollar, for that matter?
Note to All Red-Blooded Real-American Pizza-Eaters: If you'd like to tell the folks at Pizza Patrón just what you think of its Pizza-For-Pesos program, its restaurants, or even the burro it rode in on, you can reach them in the following ways:
Pizza Patrón Inc.
10999 Petal Street
Dallas, TX 75238
Note to ICE: Since you're done raiding Swift Meat Packing locations for illegals, how 'bout a quick visit to your local Pizza Patrón? If you need help finding its many, many locations, just try this link -- http://www.pizzapatron.com/locations.cfm . By the way, do I get a finder's fee?
About the Writer: Doc Farmer is an author, security consultant, humorist, genius and part-time curmudgeon living in America's Heartland. He is also a moderator on ChronWatch's Forum. Doc receives e-mail at email@example.com