Back in my Eton days, I was widely regarded as something of a brigand who cavalierly eschewed the strictures of polite society. Whether absconding from the dining hall with an extra blood sausage or purloining and perfuming the headmaster’s robes, my hijinks caused much consternation among the school’s leadership.
“You sir, are a rapscallion and a rake,” they would say. “Were we on a sinking vessel, I dare say you would shove your way past the true gentlemen and seek conveyance to safety at any cost.”
And you know what? Those motherfuckers were right. Because I’m American. AND WE MAKE OUR OWN RULES.
To wit, once scientist alleges that my Americanness would have made me much more likely to survive the Titanic disaster than my British counterparts:
David Savage, a behavioural economist at the Queensland University of Technology, studied four 20th-century maritime disasters to determine how people react in life and death situations. He concluded that, on the whole, behaviour is influenced by altruism and social norms, rather than a “survival of the fittest” mentality. However, on the Titanic he noted Americans were 8.5 per cent more likely to survive than other nationalities, while British passengers were 7 per cent less likely to survive.
“The only things I can put that down to are: there would have been very few Americans in steerage or third class; and the British tend to be very polite and queue.” (The ship’s first-class staterooms were closest to the lifeboat deck.)
The Titanic disaster is riddled with lore of British men donning tuxedoes in preparation for icy demise and the ship’s captain admonishing his crew to “Be British!” and remain stoic as the women and children scrambled to the lifeboats. Meanwhile the Americans were already clubbing baby seals for sustenance and preparing class-action lawsuits.