The Overconfident New Yorker goes to Europe. It is one of those solid seven-day, three-nation trips.
It’s not the Overconfident New Yorker’s first trip to the Old World. Come on. He’s already done Paris-London-Rome. This time is Brussels-London-Helsinki. I mean you can’t miss London, even if you know enough to have a more refined travel itinerary. They speak English there and they sell nice ties.
The Overconfident New Yorker has some meetings set up, as part of this annual gathering of 29 partners. The trip is mostly for business, a little pleasure. There’ll be time for golfing in Scotland, a little relaxation around conversations with his European partners. The European partners: They’ve worked together for decades, but they need to be treated with a firm hand. So that’s what he’ll do. They’re “delinquent,” every one of them, and the Overconfident New Yorker says he’s tired of picking up the bill. His outfit can afford it, and it never had too many problems working with partners earlier, but now the Overconfident New Yorker’s changing the rules. If that’s Overconfident, Embarrassing, Norm-Changing or Ineffectual, then sue him.
The Overconfident New Yorker is different from the Ugly American, OK? The Ugly American doesn’t know that he looks silly — he sticks out. The Ugly American wears a Yankees cap and a Fourth of July shirt in the Uffizi. The Ugly American thinks that everyone’s pants are a little too tight in France. That kind of guy gets confused when people call soccer football. He’d rather go to Epcot. If the Ugly American doesn’t get ice in his sans gas, he’ll give the waiter a piece of his mind.
Actually, the Overconfident New Yorker sees where the Ugly American’s coming from about the water, not to mention undercooked meat. The Overconfident New Yorker similarly thinks we’ve got things figured out better and bigger across the pond. But the difference is that the Overconfident New Yorker knows he’s ruffling feathers. That he’s making a mess of things. That he’s loud and a little out of place and out of his depth. He’s AWARE of the way he’s perceived — see?
The point is that the Overconfident New Yorker doesn’t care about any of that. He’s pretty sure that moving fast and breaking things is what the newer West Coast business outfits do, and there’s something to the idea. He’s never thought it was too helpful to play well with others, no matter how big the problem. When he doesn’t fully grasp something his impulse is to fake it, be louder than everyone else in the room. He’s an Overconfident New Yorker. He’ll repeat himself over and over. Simple language. In English. They’ll listen, eventually.
Which is why he feels comfortable telling it like he thinks it is. Germany, he said to his partners in public, is “captive” to Russia due to natural gas concerns. Never mind that history has shown what it’s actually like for half of Germany to be captive to the Soviet Union. Never mind that Germany is his partner and Russia is a threatening power. Just say what feels right. Move along.
The Overconfident New Yorker is only in the middle of his trip. There’s plenty of time to be a bull in a china shop, or a breakfast. Why don’t they have real breakfasts over here, by the way? What is this “Continental” business? Like his chief of staff, he “was expecting a full breakfast and there were only pastries and cheese.” He’ll call down to the concierge.
When he was in Brussels last year, he shoved one of his business partners out of the way at a meeting, but who was going to say something to him? He’s the one with the money. He’ll enjoy himself as much as he can here. The exchange rate’s not bad. And he still has access to Twitter. He’ll probably skip the cafe lifestyle or good vino — there’s cable in the hotel room.