(photo: Alex David)
Overheard in Barnes and Nobles:
girl on phone: Yeah, I totally want to go abroad this summer. You know, wherever I can do the most good. I was thinking China, because, you know, they need it. Or London, because I totally should have been born British.
girl on phone: Really? Huh. I love England!
girl on the phone: Yeah, I'm always doing British things. Like, I say "huzzah". You know how I always say "huzzah"? ...Well, I totally love British culture, and I've even watched the whole first season of Downtown Abbey on Netflix. And I want to watch the British Office, too, before I go, but I'm already watching How I Met Your Mother, and how many shows can a person really watch?
I flicked through my copy of How to Be British later that day, but sadly found no reference to our country's use of "huzzah". Maybe it's new -- I've been abroad for a few years. What I did find, though, were a few helpful tips on manners.
How to be Polite:
In short, British people won't do anything for you unless you have at least three "sorries" and an "if you don't mind" in the request. And the more times you say "bother" the better.
But it also works the other way round -- I am utterly incapable of asking anyone to do anything for me without all the politeness jabber. Even something nice:
Sorry to bother you, but I wonder if you'd mind coming round for dinner this week, as long as you're not busy and it's no trouble, of course. Astrid x
How to Complain:
An example: Justin and I were out to dinner last week, and the shrimp I ordered were a bit cold. I wouldn't have even complained to Justin, but the waiter forgot to bring us cutlery and so we shared anything remotely finger-foody, including my shrimp, while we waited. Two seconds after trying one, Justin was hailing a server and getting us another order of free fresh hot shrimp. No problem! They'll be right out! And though I couldn't decide which was more embarrassing -- complaining about the food, or having to have someone else complain for me -- the warm shrimp were very good (and having double the shrimp was even better)! And that's where having an American other-half comes in handy.