The trouble with this country

“You know what is the trouble with this country is?” The sentence didn’t sound right. The old man loosened his tie and frowned, trying to work out where the grammar had gone astray.

“What?” asked his younger companion, also unsure of the meaning, and hampered further by having to translate it into his native tongue.

“I said, you know the trouble with this country?” That sounded better. The fewer the verbs, the better, that was the key.

“What, this country?” said the younger man, tapping the table top that had become strangely damp and sticky over the evening.

“No, not this country. Not this one. Which one is it again?”

“What, this country?”


“The Czech Republic. Used to be Czechoslovakia, but it split. The Czechs went here and the Slovaks went to Slovakia.”

“What about the O’s?”


“Czech – o – slovakia. If the Czechs went to Czech, and the Slovaks to Slovakia, where’d the O’s in the middle go?”

The younger man frowned, then grinned. “The United Sates O’ America?” he said, and broke into giggling.

“Yes, yes, that’s exactly the problem with this country. Not this one, I mean my one.”

“Sorry? I don’t understand, Mr -” He delivered a burp that would have registered on the Richter scale. “Mr – ” He paused for the aftershock.

“Nonononono. Dan. Call me Dan.”

His younger companion stared open-mouthed, then grasped his hand and pumped it. “Dan? I can call you Dan? Then you must call me Petrov.”

“Howdy, Petrov.”

“How do you do, Dan. Dan, I am sorry, but I have no idea what you are saying. The problem with the United States is the Czechs?”

“No, no, that’s not what I’m saying. I’m saying the problem is, there’s not enough – oh, wait, United States o’ America. Yeah, I get that now. That’s where the O’s went. Haha. Yeah, that’s funny.”

The two collapsed into giggles.

“No, what I’m saying is, you know the problem with America? Immigrants. There. I said it.”

“Really?” Dan frowned. “I thought it was the national debt, and the collapse of your manufacturing base, and the offshoring of your services, and all these wars you have to defend, and, um, abortion? Isn’t there something about abortion too?”

“No, no, no.” Dan waved his hands, spilling a little of his wine onto the table. “Syntoms, syn, symptoms. Those are just symptoms, or ancillary problems, or all that sort of thing. No, the real problem, the real one, the one that’s, that’s really real. The real problem is – immigration.”

“Is it that bad? I mean, you only got two borders.”

“No, no, no.” Dan took a gulp of wine from his glass to lessen the spillage. “No, you misunderstand. Not enough immigrants, that’s the problem.”

“I thought you had too many.”

“No, no. Not enough. At least, not enough of the right sort. I’m not talking about Canadians and Mexicans, not per se, not that I’m a racist. No, I’m talking about fresh blood. I mean, that’s what America is built on. Look, when we first came to America, it was empty. Nothing there except prairies and mountains and, and, and that sort of thing, right?”

“And Indians.”

“Nononono. Native Americans. But I take your point, But even the Ind – even the Native Americans, they weren’t doing anything with it. So along came the founding fathers, and they had a fresh eye, right? They looked and they said, ‘Whoa, what’s this? You got all this tobacco but no cigarette industry? You got turkeys, but where are the KFC franchises?” Then someone said, it’s taking too long to drive these wagons across the country, so they built the railroads, and airports, and Greyhounds and everything. Fresh eyes, fresh ideas, see? That’s what we always did. We never invented anything, we got it from immigrants.”

“Really?” said Petrov. “Everything?”

“Everything, pretty much. It beggars belief, doesn’t it? But you think about it. Everything American. Like what? American as apple pie? But that was the English with their apples, bringing them over here. Hamburgers? Hot dogs? German. They even named a city after the Frankfurter. Can you believe it? You like a bottle of Bud?”

Petrov placed a hand over his glass. “No, I can’t mix wine and beer anymore.”

Dan laughed. “No, I meant, do you like Budweiser? Czech. Even when we invent something, it’s an immigrant. Chop Suey. That was invented in San Francisco.”


“Yes. I know. I didn’t believe it either when my people told me. I had to Google it, but it’s true. It should be ‘as American as chop suey’. And have you seen the apple pies McDonalds serve? They look like Chinese egg rolls. The world has gone crazy, Petrov, crazy.”

“But why do you want more immigrants, Dan?”

“Because we can’t solve the problems we have, Petrov. The national debt and the, the, oh, all those things you said earlier. We can’t solve them because we’re part of them. We’re up to our eyes in it. We need new blood, outsiders, to come in and offer brand new ideas. And from the ground up, too. Name one thing, one damn thing, the American government has achieved for America. No, it’s Americans, and new Americans at that, that made my country great, Petrov, and we need new Americans to pull us out of this cesspool.”

“So, do it. Why not?”

“You think we could? No. Know why? The American public. You can’t tell Joe the Plumber that if we let new blood in today, in ten years time they will have built a new industrial empire, a new Microsoft or General Motors. No, because Joe Plumber is worried about this month’s pay check, not what the country will be like in ten years. No, he sees some wetback cleaning his toilet and thinks, an American should have that job. I’ve tried, you think I haven’t? But my people, they won’t let me.”

A young man in a dark suit and shades entered the bar, nodded at the men in suits standing by the doorway and walked towards the two drunks.

“When you put it like that, you’re right,” said Petrov. “It seems so simple.”

The suited man stopped beside Dan and coughed politely. Dan waved him into silence.

“It’s always the same, Petrov. It always is. Two men with an adequate supply of alcohol can solve any problem in the world. Why do we not hold all the world conferences in hotel bars?” He turned to the man beside him. “What?”

“Excuse me. sir, but the First Lady sends her compliments and asks when she might expect your company this evening.”

“Is that what she actually said?”

“Um, the gist of it, Mister President. I might have edited it a little.”

“A little?”

“Well, maybe more than a little.”

Dan turned to Petrov, shrugged, then ground the end of his thumb into the tabletop. Petrov laughed and said, “I understand, Dan. Even us state leaders must bow to a higher authority. I shall see you again in the chamber tomorrow.”

The president nodded, pulled himself heavily to his feet, and followed the Secret Serviceman.


About snodlander
Snodlander is the nom de plume of Bob Simms. He is an IT trainer, but it's not as glamourous as it sounds. When he's not enthralling classes with adventures through SQL Server, he writes, draws and drinks his own home-brew. Buy his novel on Amazon Kindle at The Young Demon Keeper, It's 74p, for crying out loud!

One Response to The trouble with this country

  1. I couldn’t agree more 🙂

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