You know those American movies where people in coffee shops are incredibly friendly and smile at you and tell you to have a nice day? It’s all true. One of the things I noticed immediately upon arrival in DC was that people here are very, very friendly. So friendly in fact that, if they were British, you’d think they were taking the piss.
American person: hope you have a GREAT day!
British person: are you having a laugh? It’s pissing down outside and I hate my fucking job.
Every week-day morning, I buy a small latte with skimmed milk from the same coffee shop around the corner from work. After a few weeks of going there, the girls started getting my coffee ready before I even got to the till. The queues are long and they are rushed off their feet but they wish me a good weekend on a Friday, and we chat about what we’ve been up to on a Monday. Is this because they rely on tips to supplement their wages? Possibly. Is this in fact unique to America? Probably not. But it made me think about one charming experience in London.
I’m in a well-known chain coffee-shop in central London. It’s 06:45 a.m.
Coffee Man: You sure?
Me (almost weeping): Small. Latte. Now.
Americans may deny it, but they love a bit of British. A colleague told me that she wished she had a British accent, because “you sound like you know exactly what you’re talking about in meetings, even if you clearly don’t have a clue.” I came in to work clutching my umbrella the other day and a bloke said “Every time I see a British person with an umbrella, it makes me think of Mary Poppins”. I really wanted to respond “Yeah, well every time I see an American, it makes me think of obesity and diabetes”. Instead I twirled my umbrella and smiled. I’m trying very hard to be nice back.