The only American rudeness I've seen here in Aus is to service staff. I suppose that's because in America things are a little different, service staff wages are a lot lower and they have to work harder and be nicer to get tips. Here service staff are paid better. The tip culture has come in from the US but they don't need it, staff aren't a class bellow while they're working, if you know what I mean…?
ozoneocean, it's not just the difference in wage scales between U.S. and Australian wait-staff. My first legal job was in retail sales. I was a stock clerk and a floor clerk, and so I spent a great deal of time waiting on customers.
Now, the pay wasn't anything to write home about but the cost of living was way lower in those days and, frankly, hardly anyone was earning big bucks in anything outside the big name professions anyway, and so a goodly number of people were in the same boat as wage earners.
Everyone from the lowest of the low to the manager and even the owner of the company acted like polite subservients to even the scruffiest looking customer because we were representing the company and were expected to be respectful, courteous, and eager to please because that was the image that the owner wanted to present of his company, from top to bottom. This was far from an unusual perspective across the nation in those days.
Well, in the early 1980s wage disparity took off like a rocket and Ronald Reagan worshiping yuppies began to put on the big-head where job classification differences were concerned. This ‘I’m better than the rest of you' attitude somehow worked its way down into the retail level in many areas of the country at that time and for a while things got rather grim for the customer. You actually got treated with rudeness and deliberate spite by people who were supposed to be representing their company to the purchasing public.
Then during the 1990s and into the 2000s wages REALLY separated the economic classes. Now it IS pretty much the way you described things above and now you have a great deal of unctuous service from people simply terrified of losing their low paying job because their crush of bills could eat them alive before they could land another low paying job.
So, yeah, NOW it is pretty much the way you described it, but it wasn't always that way and the older people do recall when retail level workers were polite and helpful simply because that was the very nature of the job itself.
The roots of the servile and ‘smile like a prostitute’ retail presentation come from actual tradition but has since degenerated on the whole to stark terror of the financial gun-at-one's-head kind. It's damn sad and revolting.
Being polite and courteous and helpful because this is an intelligent business custom is one thing; being the same because you are terrified of the consequences of losing, even for a brief time, your only source of income, is very, very bad.