It would pain me to think that I had given the impression in an earlier blog that Americans were mannerless, over-fed and generally not to my taste. In actual fact, they seem on the whole to be among the most polite people one could hope to meet. They greet you on passing on the sidewalk (pavement); in retail and food halls they are invariably polite and helpful, after all these are not John Lewis partners, they are employees! But ask some one where something is to be found and they will take you right there, no pointing vaguely to Aisle 27 (and believe me there was an Aisle 27) the young woman practically took me by the hand and led me to the stock I required! But above all they thank you for shopping with them! When, if ever, has anyone in the post office said “thank you for doing business with us” when you have bought 20 stamps and posted a smallish parcel home with unwanted tourist information? I honestly think the only occasion when I have felt even remotely welcome in a post office was the one in Dockhead, London, SE1 and guess what, the year it won the best run post office certificate – it was closed down. But hey, that’s the Royal Mail plc – the ‘L’ stands for Limited and that just about sums it up.
Americans seem interested in people. Complete strangers want to know where you come from, and actually stay to listen, call you ‘sweetie’ and just “love the accent”. It makes you feel so welcomed here.
“Have a good day”, “you’re welcome” and other such phrases may seem trite cliches but it is not what you say but the way you say it, and so far in America it has been delivered with warmth and a smile.
I like it, may be not for always, but for now.