A couple of days ago, my wife and I attended a Customer Service Excellence awards ceremony. This was for employees across Las Vegas who had been nominated by their employers for outstanding customer service. My wife had been nominated for an award and I went along with her because, a) it was my day off, and b) they had a free breakfast buffet.
Oh, and I was proud of my wife, or whatever.
Anyway, the ceremony opened with the MC – from a local radio station – telling some jokes, telling us how honoured he was to be hosting the awards and desperately plugging his radio station. Well, I say MC…but on the programme guide it was listed as ‘EmCee’.
Does America thinks ‘MC’ is shorthand for ‘EmCee’?
‘OK’ is shorthand for Okay. ‘BBQ’ is shorthand for Barbecue. But ‘MC’ is NOT shorthand for EmCee; it usually stands for Mic Controller…on in this case, Master of Ceremonies (although ‘Master’ was a bit of a stretch).
At the time I was thinking it could’ve stood for something else in which the ‘M’ could’ve been ‘Massive’, or ‘Moronic’, and the ‘C’ could’ve been the only thing ‘C’ could’ve been.
Anyway, next on the list of activities listed on the official programme was ‘The Pledge Of Allegiance’. I was excited for this as I’d never been part of a pledge before so I was intrigued to see it.
I didn’t have to wait long.
Soon, the ‘EmCee’ declared it was time for the pledge and, as one, the auditorium full of people all stood up around me, put their hands over their hearts and started chanting in unison.
“I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands, one Nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all”
It was a little unnerving that everyone just got up and started chanting together, but it’s the pledge of allegiance so I half expected it. It was like The Lord’s Prayer at school which I still know to this day because it was drilled into us, day after day, after day.
Now, you may have noticed that I’ve emboldened and underlined the first part of the pledge above; this was the ONLY part of the pledge that I actually knew – from American movies and TV shows – so I had no choice but to mime the rest like the imposter I was. I felt completely out of place as everyone, including my wife, went into autopilot.
But that wasn’t the weirdest thing. Not by a long shot. No, the weirdest thing was the fact that every single person in the place had turned slightly to the left so they were facing the American flag positioned on the left side of the stage. I thought I had successfully fooled everyone with my hand over my heart and the opening and closing of my mouth like a guppy.
As the only twat still facing forward, I was a fish out of water…and I looked like one.
I have to say, it was all a bit creepy. I’ve become accustomed to the weirdness and eccentricities of American life, but nothing prepared me for this. Everyone outside the USA knows how dedicated the Americans are to their pledge, but the whole flag thing just freaked me out!
This got me thinking though; what if there isn’t a flag in the room? What then?
In America, there’s always a solution.