Mad Scientess Jane Expat
So yesterday was my first day back in the London office since I went on leave. There were many pleased-yet-awkward greetings with my work colleagues, but this exchange took the cake.
Me: *goes for hug*
Him: *proffers hand*
Me: *already has left arm around one shoulder, but tries to proffer right hand anyway*
Him: *sees me going for hug, aims for kiss on cheek*
Me: *realises too late that kiss on cheek is option, kiss ends up somewhere in the air over my opposite shoulder*
Both: *give up on the attempt, step apart and carry on with embarrassed mumbly verbal greetings*
The best part: he's originally Polish and I'm originally American. Oh, Britain. This is what you do to your immigrants. We used to know how to greet people smoothly and confidently. And now we can't. THANKS A BUNCH
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Could have been worse:
*both turn in same direction for kiss on cheek, narrowly avoid kiss on lips*
That circumstance is, tbh, one of my worst fears!
Although I wonder whether this is Britain or the overall international science environment. That happened to me in the Netherlands and Spain with people based and/or currently living in different countries :D
It's probably a combination of them. I'm pretty sure the Britishness doesn't help, though. :D
Heh. Sounds like when my dad started working in Kuwait, and he and fellow male colleagues from the UK were briefed not to try to shake hands with the female local staff.
Only the local women working there had learnt that it was good manners and not haraam to shake hands with Englishmen.
After a couple weeks they had evolved a kind of air-handshake.
I'm loving the mental image of the air-handshake! :D
I am hopeful that after enough time in the States, I'll learn how to great people I know confidently, but I'm not sure the fumbling British approach will ever actually leave me. I have enough problems remembering that it's socially acceptable here to actually tell someone your name when you meet them, and to ask someone their name, rather than have a conversation that ends with "Goodbye, I'm Kate btw".
Never again will you have the opportunity to talk regularly to a fellow commuter for weeks (or months, or years) and not know their name! :D
When I lived in Edison House, I didn't know the name of one my next door neighbors. I lived there for 8 years and never really felt like there was a window where it was acceptable to ask (and they even signed their Xmas cards as "from all of us at No. 6". Totally maddening).
I'm sure this is why the English "Hi-ya" is so often used - nicely fills in the syllable after Hi, without the need for an actual name!
This is one of those, "well it's funny if it's not you" situations :)
Yes, exactly. Hilarious to watch, painful to experience.