Random Observations

Observation Number 1

I had been told by friends that I wouldn’t easily find out about UK news and world events by reading the US newspapers and watching TV. They couldn’t been more wrong – there were plenty of reports on Tony Blair’s comments on Ronald Reagan, and how sad Gorbachov was to hear the news.For more important news, I relied on emails from mum, telling me who had been voted off the TV celebrity chef reality show we had both been watching.

Observation Number 2

There is no doubt about it: as I found in my last visit to the US, service – in shops, restaurants etc., is more observed here than in the UK. To be sure, I know of quite a few places at home where your glass is filled for you automatically, or shops where you get attention from sales when *you* want it, but here it is universal.

As a result, I am easing back on my habit of thanking people whenever they do something for me. It is not that I’m ungrateful, but otherwise I find I don’t actually have time to eat:

[on being given meal]
“Thank you”
“That’s OK, sir”
[water topped up]
“Thanks”
“That’s alright, sir”
[teacup moved two inches closer to me]
“Um, ta”
“That’s quite alright, sir”

Ultimate service today was in the shoe store, where ringing up the sale of a pair of sandals I had bought, the salesman thanked me and then commented on “what exquisite taste” I had. Well, I knew that, but it is nice that someone else shares my opinion.

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