If you’re looking for a reprieve from the chaos that is American politics, you might be thinking about leaving the country. Maybe rethink that idea.
If the following anecdotes from some of our colleagues, friends and acquaintances who have lived or worked abroad in the age of Trump are anything to go by, it seems nearly impossible to get away from his grasp.
Everyone in the world seems to have something to say about America’s new unconventional president. Sometimes it’s funny, weird, or shocking, while other times the comments are sad and outright depressing. The comments almost veer towards annoying once you’re pegged as an American.
From Tanzania to Israel — where at shopping malls Trump’s lewd hot mic comments have inspired underwear fashion — here are some tales of uninvited Trump commentary from the past year.
“I was basically dead by the time I got off my the plane, meaning I was in a heightened state of disarray when I walked up to the border control agent. He took one look at my passport and his face broke out into this absurd smile. ‘Running away from Trump, are ya?’ he asked. This was the very first person I spoke to after getting off the plane. I was too tired to even answer him, I just rolled my eyes.”
“Ten minutes later, I’m getting into a cab. The driver hears my accent and says, ‘Oh my god, Donald Trump, he’s crazy! How is he president? It is bad! He is scary! He is racist!’ He goes on and on, for at least six or seven minutes, while I’m just like, ‘Yeah,’ or ‘I know.’ But he wouldn’t let up, so I pretended to fall asleep for the rest of the ride, at which point he finally shut up.”
—Jessica C., May 2017
“My cab driver, first thing, says ‘Oh, you’re from America. What about Trump, huh?‘ * laughs * I kinda just laughed it off, but he said he doesn’t plan on going to the states while Trump’s president, and that a lot of Australians felt that way.”
—Brian D., Aug. 2017
“I was in Cancun for work when Trump got elected. My [coworker] left me a 100 peso note saying ‘This is all I can afford for your wall‘ written in black ink. I still have it. He wrote to send it to the White House for him. I figure sending it only makes it too real.”
—Will S., Nov. 2016
“I went to Tijuana for my second time; my friend and I had previously had this amazing brunch at a place called La Espadaña. It’s on all the best-of lists and deserves to be. The first time we went was before the election. But the second time they wouldn’t seat us. We walked in just like before, up to the hostess stand that was inside, set back a little from the big entrance; there was no one waiting to speak with her and as we approached, she walked away. My friend was wearing Los Angeles Rams gear so we were glaringly American. We sort of backed off the podium a little and when we did, she returned to help some local families who were coming in, which was no big deal, but then we worked our way to the front again, and neither she nor the other woman would look at us. After it happened a third time, us being ignored and people scooting around us to be seated and added, we kind of looked at each other like, ‘… is this … what … we think it is?‘ I think we gave it another minute just to be sure. And sure enough, not even a glance. My friend finally got upset and we left no no one ever talked to us.”
—Josh D., April 2017
When I went the day after the election, my friends and I went to a bar and the bartender asked if we liked Trump and when we said, “No,” he brought us out a round of shots on the house. He was like, ‘These aren’t super strong or anything, but I feel really bad for you guys so I wanted to give you a treat.'”
—Jessica S., Nov. 2016
“It’s mostly just cab drivers who still are like, ‘So…Trump?’ And I say, ‘Yep,’ and that’s kind of the end of it!”
—Liza H., recently in 2017
At an exhibition on the rise of the Nazi party called ‘Berlin 1933–1945. Between Propaganda and Terror’:
“The baby boomer-era Berliners who accompanied me that day spoke in exasperated, yet subdued, tones about the distinct parallels between 1933 and the climate Trump is creating in the USA. “Very scary,” [they said].”
—Laurie M., Spring 2017
“When I was abroad, there was actually an ad for a Japanese product that featured large paper-maiche heads of Trump and the Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe. Trump is seen as a caricature of some sorts, someone who can’t actually be taken seriously. I was even volunteering in one of the rural areas, and at one point, we were discussing the differences between Japan and America. The American volunteers didn’t even have to give any background info on American politics. The Japanese volunteers chuckled, shook their heads a little, and said things along the lines of, ‘I can’t believe America. Good thing we’re not you guys!‘”
—S.M., July 2017
“My fiancé (now my wife) and I were in Zanzibar off the coast of Tanzania and we were getting a tour of Stone Town, a UNESCO world heritage site. It is a very old and city with Arabic influences and beautiful architecture, but it had a very dark history as the center for the slave trade in East Africa. Our tour guide, born and raised in Zanzibar, loved Tupac and would always reference him throughout the tour because we were Americans. He also brought up Trump a lot too. To our surprise he liked Trump, he said he liked him because he was very entertaining, “Just turn on the TV.” Both of us kept trying to tell him how terrible Trump was and did not represent America (not elected at the time) and he would never win the presidency over [Hillary Clinton]. But he kept going on how he liked Donald. Every now and then I wonder how he feels about Trump now.”
Stephen Z., summer 2016
Looks like there’s nowhere to hide from Trump.