One of the most misleading things people think about the British is that they are chivalrous. Since Benedict Cumberbatch and/or Tom Hiddleston don’t hang around the Ealing area, I have found this is simply not true. Only once in my 5+ months here has someone held a door open for me besides my husband, and I’m pretty sure it was an accident.
I had some friends come over a few months ago and one of them said that they were surprised that no one would give up their seat for them on the subway. Oh, but one gentleman did. It turned out said gentleman was an American tourist.
I give up my seat all the time when I see a pregnant woman or elderly lady, but the men around me do not budge. It’s crazy. Just today I saw a lady with numerous bags get onto the train and she accidentally knocked down a sitting gentleman’s newspaper. He did nothing but scowl at her as she apologized for the lack of space provided for her to walk by.
I’m am surprised by how different the English are from the Americans. I am not going to write a blog about how awesome Americans are (because, ya know), but I’ve found myself pulling my hair out due to the cultural divide.
There is no sense of urgency here. People will keep you on hold for a small eternity, it can take weeks to get something through the post, and even the checkout lines in the grocery store watch the minutes go by.
While in a restaurant, waiters wait for you to track them down and ask for the check. They rarely check on you to make sure you have everything you want/need, but they especially disappear when you want to pay and leave. I almost feel like I should ask for the check when the food arrives just so we don’t wind up sitting in the cafe for over an hour.
While working in an office, one of the duties I have as a runner is to make sure the meeting rooms are clean. So when a meeting gets out, I go in and remove the glasses and straighten out the chairs. One time, I did this straight away, and when a colleague came back a few minutes later to get his glass, he noted my efficiency and need then for a new glass of water.
But then that brings me to something else. The English must be used to people picking up after them. I watch people left and right just drop trash on the street even though they are close to a bin. The one that got me the most was when I was walking through a park, and the remnants of a picnic were just laid out waiting for someone to come and clean it up. I couldn’t believe it.
The sheer lack of care some of these people have for the cleanliness of their city is shocking. I know that London is one of the most polluted due to exhaust and dirt, but do we have to add trash to it as well? But on the flip side, the city employs so many cleaners and maintenance people that there is always someone to clean it up.
You wouldn’t need so many workers if people were cleaner, but if people were cleaner, you would lose jobs. It boggles my mind that polluting and littering actually is helping the employment rate.