This is my third year in the United Kingdom but I still do not know the names of the cereals Brits consume on a daily basis. Not like it’s important but it once was when not knowing them embarrassed me at work. I literally left a lady with a pack of cereal unopened and without milk, thinking it was a biscuit. I was totally embarrassed when I was cautioned about it, as the lady in question was really old and knew less about the breakfasts that were served to her.
Anyways, I would be giving you 5 courtesies I admire about British people which is not so common to the place and people I belong to.
Picture gotten from-Watercolor
“Yes please”-Unlike now, I’d say to anyone behind the counter wherever I shop ” I’d like a bag” if asked “would you like a bag?”. It’s been 3 years, I’m still trying to get a hang on saying ” yes please” right after I’m asked what I want. Yes! I used the word “still trying to get a hang on” as I seldom forget. It takes me approximately 30 seconds to add “please” just after saying “yes” which probably says a lot about me to the sales person ( she’s an anti-Brit) lol.
Queuing in turns– 17 years of my life was spent in Aba, Abia state, Nigeria and the least you should ever expect from people living there is order. We hustle for anything and everything including space, lol, as it is a business-minded city, but more like a ghetto. You can imagine going from grass to grace, I found it fascinating to find people who even unknowingly queue up. Although, it took a while to get used to the word “queue” talk more of standing in one, I find it easy to reciprocate when a typical Brit paves way for one. Here in the UK, people are well- mannered when it comes to waiting for a bus, waiting at the bank counter or even in a supermarket. It’s something admirable.
“Smiling back”– “Onye kele sunny, sunny ekele ya”, a proverb in my native dialect (Igbo) which depicts the reciprocation of a greeting when greeted. An elderly person regardless of their relation to you expects you to at least greet them with an “Aunty or uncle or sir” or even some sort of title attached, whenever you see them in Nigeria.That to some extent shows respect and good upbringing to them. However, here in the UK, most people quietly give you a broad smile, which is either plain 🙂 or with their teeth all out :D.
Picture gotten from- Allposters
Visiting Friends– You don’t bugger off to someone’s place in the name of being friends without informing them of your coming. It’s more like intruding someone’s privacy or even disregarding it in some way. I have a childhood friend that lives in the next street back home and whenever it used to be their turn to have light ( NEPA: former power supply in Nigeria) supplied to them, I would always run to her place and she never complained about my uninvited visits. Back then in our area, electricity supply used to be in turns as there were less transformers to step down the main current. Whenever I had light supplied, she never did and vice versa. I’ve now gotten so used to calling or texting before even going to see a neighbor here in the UK.
“Cheers”– It took me probably less than a month to get used to this one :). I found it fancy and less stressful than saying “thank you”. The Brits mostly say it to either show appreciation or just before having a drink and also after toasting to something. I call it a Brit courtesy because I heard and learnt how to use it here first. I’m not 100% sure of the originators but I like the word.
Although, there are loads of courtesies to adapt from British people, I find these 5 more admirable. I believe if they travel to any country in Africa and not just Nigeria, they would also have a lot to learn from and adapt to too. What’s the essence of life if not growth? and what waters growth are the little things we learn and do.
Are there any courtesies you found fascinated by as a foreigner in countries you’ve been to? I would love to hear about them. Cheers! 🙂
Dyna Ekwueme Copyright, 2016.