Important Info For Americans
So it looks like the Olympics in 2012 are going to be a good old Cockney knees-up! This is great news for us, because it pisses off the French and we in the UK only LIVE to piss off the French. And it’s good news for Americans, because although the New York bid failed, at least the UK is a country that you can visit without being HATED…much. And we speak a similar language too!
But as Americans, before you come here, you need to know how our customs differ from yours. You need my…
GUIDE TO SURVIVING IN THE UK, FOR AMERICANS
1) Start every complaint with the words “I’m really sorry”. This isn’t America, no one gives a SHIT if you are happy with the service or not. Our employees don’t have group hugs, pep talks, brainwashing sessions or sticker-charts to encourage them to be nice to the customers…And very few of them expect much in the way of tips. If something goes wrong, like your dinner is cold or your toilet doesn’t flush… You need to say something like, “I’m really sorry but I think my dinner might be a bit too cold to eat”, or “I’m really sorry, I might not be pushing the handle properly, because I’m American and we have different toilets there, but the toilet in my room doesn’t seem to flush”. That way you might get some help. Trying to be “assertive”, shouting about your “rights” or demanding “service” will get you sneered at and your food spat in. BTW, this doesn’t just apply to Americans, this applies to EVERYONE, even Brits. This isn’t prejudice, it’s the way we DO things.
2) Look very carefully before you cross the road on foot. Drivers here do not slow down a bit and wave at you to cross (like they did for me in Seattle and Florida)…They speed up and sometimes even SWERVE here, in order to hit you. No driver in London will cut you ANY slack at all. Even if you have a walking-stick.
3) To be polite to OUR standards, try to say “Thank you” at least six times during any purchase.
The shop-keeper says “Can I help you?”
You hand him the item you wish to purchase and say “Thank you”.
He asks if you are paying cash, “Oh, yes, thank you”.
He hands you your change and you say “Thank you”.
He asks if you want the item in a bag, you say “Yes, thank you”.
He hands you the bagged item and you say “Thank you”.
You start to leave and he says “Bye!” ………To which you reply, “Bye! Thank you!”.
4) When you order, or ask for anything, say “Please” I was stunned in America that people ask for things and don’t say “Please” every time. It will help you to glean what little service you CAN get in London if you at least TRY to ask politely. I know some areas in America say “Please” more than others, because I’ve written about this before, but I’m telling the people who don’t, OK?
5) Don’t make a fuss. If a British person saw an elephant walking along the path towards them they would say “Oh look, an elephant…There must be a circus near here, or something.” Americans would go, “OH. MY. GOD. LOOK! LOOK! AN ELEPHANT!!! ISN’T HE ADORABLE?! GET MY CAMERA!! IS IT REAL?! AREN’T THEY FROM AFRICA?! DO THEY HAVE THOSE HERE?! MAYBE IT’S WILD…THEY HAVE HEDGEHOGS!!! etc. etc.” That’s really annoying to the British.
6) Don’t tell everybody you meet what you think of them within the first 10 minutes. British people don’t want to know how they are perceived, even if it is good news. Americans have a habit of saying “Oh my, you’re funny!”, or “You two make an ADORABLE couple!” or “Hey, you know what? You’re really clever!”, which makes us SQUIRM. Keep it to yourself, until you’ve known us for ages and until we are at least a bit DRUNK.
7) Practice drinking warm beer and eating small portions of food. You know it makes sense. And practice paying twice as much for it. I’d love to change the whole of the UK for you but it might be easier for you to lower your standards and then halve the result. That will be what you’re served.
8) Learn to say AND more often. “Go AND get”, “Go AND buy”, “Go AND eat”…I LOVE the American accent but leaving out all the ANDS is just retarded.
This is getting too long, I might do more some other time…Hehehe. I hope I’ve helped, because you only have 7 years to learn this!
Guide to surviving in the UK, for AmericansWednesday, July 13th, 2005