Sunday, 27 July 2008

Culture Shock

There is a major culture shock that I have experienced in the last few weeks, and it relates to the way people interact, particularly within the service industry.
I am accustomed, after 6 years, to a very British way of doing things. A formality within interaction, whereby when you go to the Tesco or ASDA or Sainsburys check out, the level of interaction with the cashier revolved primarily around “Would you like cash back?” Thereafter you just have enough time to mumble under your breath at the way the price of bread has increased, and how that person in front of you in the queue didn’t have the decency to leave the packets in an orderly state.

Not so in South Africa…
It appears that every person who is serving you, be it at the check out at the supermarket, at the fuel station, at the deli counter, every one will first ensure that they greet you, and ask you how you are doing, how is your day? And you almost cannot continue your business until that course of conversation is complete.
I have on several occasions been busy trying to move along, and forgotten about this greeting and conversation, and almost been looked at with disdain.

And yet – what a difference it makes! To greet people, engage in a short conversation, be welcomed, feel welcome and not just pass, like ships in the night.


po said...

I know exactly what you mean. I have been in the UK quite some time now and am used to looking away when people walk past and just generally ignoring other people's existence.

When I went home on holiday it took me a while to adapt to speaking to people agian. It was nice.

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