I’ve been in this country for quite a while now. I’m used to the language discrepancies, to roundabouts every three feet, and to the Brit’s eternal optimism that the weather will, by ‘summer’, get better. (It never does.)
But there’s one area that appears to be decidedly different, and it has to do with strangers. It’s a conversation I’ve had a number of times in this country. You may not even be aware that you’re the stranger…
Not just a stray stranger on the street. Rather, strangers they’ve had contact with.
Here’s a situation for you:
A person you’ve had occasion to deal with via social media and/or professional circles says, ‘Hey, I’m coming to England.’ Or, ‘Hey, lets have a meeting at your place. I’m bringing Joe.’
In my very California mind, this is absolutely normal. Someone I’ve spoken to via blog for several years wants to meet up because they’ll be in my neck of the woods? Totally. A FB person with loads of ‘friends’ who is traveling and looking to couch surf and meet folk all over? Obviously cool.
Or…maybe not. Apparently, the Brits (yes, huge generalisation) are a little more wary about this type of thing. Invite someone you’ve never met into your home? What are you, a savage? Meet someone from social media just because they’re around? What’s next? A ship and anchor tattoo that says Mom? What chaos! What absurdity!
You may not know this about me, but I’m not a hugely social person (yeah, yeah. Scoff away), but these things seem quite normal to me. (*psa: quite in American means very. Quite in British means just okay. I said something was quite good and her face fell, assuming I meant only passable. Consider yourself warned should you want to pick someone up in a bar and you say they’re ‘quite’ attractive.*)
Be aware when you’re headed this way you might get a bit of side-eye from the Brit you’re visiting. They may take a few moments to decide you’re not don’t-take-candy-from-strangers crazy. Once you arrive at topics like word choice, (toss can be dirty, biscuits are cookies, chocolates and candy can be different things, and you probably shouldn’t be talking about your pants with strangers), things will be fine. The weather is always an excellent topic, too.
And if they say, ‘You’re quite nice, actually,’ they were expecting you to be even worse than they found you to be. Well done.