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Ireland — The O’Truman Show

The Friendliness of the Irish Must Be an Elaborate Ruse

This gang of gentlemen we met in Galway were either a happenstance group of friendly revelers, or well-trained actors.

I am here to expose an elaborate ruse being carried out on unsuspecting tourists visiting Ireland. The perpetrators of this deception are the entirety of the Irish people. After 20 days traveling through the whole of the Emerald Isle, I witnessed an unprecedented number of kindnesses and friendly gestures that cannot be explained by logic. This unparalleled number of compassionate acts has caused me to become suspicious of these people. These aren’t random acts of kindness. This can only be an organized and orchestrated effort to trick people into thinking that Ireland is the friendliest country in the world to increase tourism revenues.

My theory is that the Ireland Convention and Visitors Bureau operates as a massive propaganda organization, complete with thousands of hired actors who are dispatched in the vicinity of any tourist, Truman-Show-style, as soon as they set foot in the country. They give the tourist a little smile, or they take a moment while providing directions to share an anecdote that somehow coincidentally weaves in their love of America and their hopes that we come back and visit soon. Very clever, indeed.

By the sheer size of this operation, I can only surmise that the scheme goes to the highest levels of government. I don’t really understand Irish political science, but I think that would be the Leprechaun King and his Cabinet of Wee Fairies. Regardless, based on the evidence I’ve collected, everyone is involved and they’re all guilty on charges of obstruction of glumness.

In America, how does it make you feel when you’re at the CVS and the person behind the counter is so helpful and friendly that they’re ready to jump out from behind the scanner to direct you to whatever you need in the store? Of course you have no idea how to answer this question, because this has never happened in the history of CVS. If the CVS employee bothers to make eye contact with you as he mutters “aisle six,” you consider yourself blessed.

In Belfast, I stopped into the local drug store to buy a razor and blades (this was before I decided to adjust my facial hair grooming style to what my wife calls “the Grizzly Adams”). At the checkout counter, the woman promptly explained to me that she thought there might be a special deal for the same razor and blades packaged together, that would save me a few pounds. She then apologized to me for leaving her station so that she could go to the other side of the store and bring back the razor and blades. I just stood there with my mouth agape as she came back and rung up the lower-cost sale, confused by what I was experiencing.

In Ireland they don’t merely give directions. The Irish take you on directions, ensuring you’re on the correct route by escorting you to within eyesight of your destination. On a Galway street corner, we didn’t ask for help, but a local sensed our confusion and stepped up to ask if we needed assistance. We admitted we couldn’t find the town square. He responded, “Sure, I can help you. But first I’d like to talk to you about your relationship with Jesus Christ.”

“Just kidding,” he said after a pause, giving us a glimpse of Irish humor. “I’ll show you how to get there. The quickest way is ahead, but instead I’ll send you on the more pleasant route.” In one block we learned about his travels to the United States and how much he loved our country.

I have never really liked watching musicals, as it always seemed completely illogical that a person would spontaneously burst into song at the drop of a hat. I thought these fits of melodic interlude made no sense, making every movie or play with them seem unrealistic.

Then I visited Ireland. People sing everywhere. In the pub, on the street, any place we went. Ability to sing has no consequence. In America, we’re taught to be ashamed of our voices and to apologize in advance if our singing abilities will be anywhere south of Andrea Bocelli. We sing in the shower because that’s the only place it’s socially acceptable. In Ireland, if someone wants to sing, they sing.

At O’Conner’s Famous Pub in Galway, a group of a dozen older men who were singing along with a musician pulled us into their group. Long after the musician had packed away his guitar case and departed, these men were singing whatever song one of them could think up. One would begin, and the rest would join in, and of course they know the words, because they’ve been singing throughout their lives. Once they found out I was an Okie, they immediately broke into a muddled rendition of Oklahoma! and I obliged to join in, my singing inhibitions having been eased away by the Guinness. I’ve been told for years I have the ways of an old man, so I fit right in with these guys.

I have evidence to believe this scandal also includes some sort of weather machine operated by Irish scientists, to allow for an occasional bit of rain, or “wee bit of weather” as the actor playing my bed and breakfast host called it, only to be followed up with rainbows everywhere. These weather-altering scene-setters really gave themselves away as tricksters when one rainbow landed right in front of us on the road. As I took a picture so that I might provide evidence of this elaborate game to the proper authorities, I thought “I mean really, Ireland? Isn’t that a little bit on the nose?”

I had heard that the Irish were friendly and welcoming to visitors, so I expected a few niceties during our travels. But after three weeks, I found myself trying to find a way to explain how a people could be so welcoming and hospitable. Maybe I should stop trying to figure out this elaborate plot and just join in on the fun. Perhaps this blog post is my bit part in the ruse. If so, I’ll be watching the mail for my residual check from the Ireland Visitors Bureau.

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