Travelling often places a spotlight on your faults
Whilst waiting in the taxi queue at Philly airport, having just got in from Heathrow, a most bewildering thing happened to me. A man, who only had one leg, in a wheelchair was wheeling himself across the road to the sidewalk along which the queue was stretched. I was the only one who moved my bags across to try to clear a space for him to wheel through, but I thought that he probably had enough room. He then asked for someone to help push him up onto the sidewalk to the group of people behind me. None of them reacted or responded, so when he asked again I went down onto the road to help push him up. He thanked me most kindly, and I felt a nice warm glow at having helped him. This quickly changed to a flash of irritation, however, when I turned back to see that the guy behind me in the queue had seen that as his chance to push in front of me. Being a stiff Brit, I didn't say anything - largely as I didn't want the hassle.
Now, I'd like to be able to say that this was just the sort of welcome back to America that I didn't want and that it was such a marked contrast to my Christmas in Britain. Unfortunately the guy was a Brit from Heathrow. I think that says a lot about the way our country (the UK) is going. We seem to do over-the-top, state-induced love-ins of compassion very well - that, of course is easy. When it comes to genuine acts of compassion or little matters of politeness and civility we find that much harder. Such, I suppose, is the problem of such a state-minded nation.