This is an index for the ‘Lost in translation’ Dictionary for Europeans living in Great Britain. Chapter: ‘Thank you!’ linguistic bulimia.
After solving the dissonance of what English words mean and what British people do really mean, as in ‘pretty good’ = ‘rubbish’, I will give you another insight on the consequences of a keen-to-adapt-to-London behaviour. The ‘behaviour’ should be me.
The worst label you could get in London is ‘Rude’. Rude as in you don’t queue properly (Balkans should already know all the tricks to get in front of the queue. I know them all!. Rude as in you:
- don’t open/hold the doors to women, mothers and children, old people, colleagues, landlords, professors. As in to… everyone.
- don’t say ‘I’m sorry’ if you slightly touched someone with your jacket in the overcrowded tube.
- don’t respect the age rule, the weight rule, the illness rule, the ‘I have lots of bags’ rule, the ‘You look tired’ rule for the priority seats in the bus.
Oh, and you surely become RUDE if you don’t say the magic words: ‘Thank you!’
The most popular science in the UK is the so-called science of gratitude. Paulo Coelho theory on the Universe conspiring for your wishes, has been surpassed by the power of the the ‘two-word’ conspiracy: ‘Thank you!’. Probably, after a historical experiment of the power of gratitude on sham gentlemen stealing Victorian ‘mademoiselles’ kisses, everyone knew this was the way to everyone’s heart: ‘Thank you!’. Be thankful even when you’re not.
In order not to be called ‘rude’ you have to say thank you even when:
- you give your seat in the bus
- after the quarrel with a bank’s employee
- thank you when you get your chopsticks, your menu, your food, your drinks, your bill, your coat, your door.
Say ‘thank you’ as often as you can. I can’t say the average thank you a day recommended. But I’ll say too much ‘Thank you’ never killed nobody. However, not saying ‘thank you’ might kill your reputation.
I have been taking this bulimic treatment of ‘thank you’-s by a month and a half by now. Everything seemed to be working fine, no side-effects, no skipping in the queues, no coat-tapping by mistake without feeling reaaaaaally sorry, no payments without thank you for taking my money attitude.
Still, I kept my Balkan irony and used it to myself whenever I would over-thank you. Until one day. Yesterday. At the Old Bailey. After a thorough search of my pockets, security gates and identification and tons of verbal-gratitudes, I got to the final automatic gate to the Old Bailey courts. Automatic gates I repeat.
The doors opened for me and while I was slipping in, I over-heard myself saying: ‘Thank you!’. To whom?! I don’t know. There was no guard around me. No colleagues. No clerks. Just the automatic gates kindly opening for me.
Thank you, automatic doors for doing what you do properly without any technical hesitations! I am grateful to you being so polite and generous of letting me in to the Rebekah Brooks phone hacking trial. Thank you, automatic doors for not shuffling when inviting me to your place! What a lovely home you have!
Once you get to the ‘Thank you!’ Bulimia I think it’s time to stop to an average 30-gratitude outbursts a day. It’s quite enough. Even for a Briton. The danger of over-using the gratitude treatment is that you might find yourself devaluing the meaning of the two words: Thank you! to the people, real ones, who really deserve it.
Back to my Balkan level of gratitude. Thank you, Mom and Dad!