Posted by: chiarraigrrl | September 26, 2011

Culture Shock

Black eyed Susans in Central Park

I have to say, after a week in the Boston area, I feel more like a foreigner in Dublin than I have in years, because I really noticed a lot of differences on this trip that either I hadn’t previously paid much attention to or shows how things have changed both sides of the pond in recent years (or both). In Boston (and even at JFK airport in notoriously-snarky New York), when you make eye contact with people, 9 times out of 10 they smile and maybe say hello – here, most people immediately avert their eyes rather than acknowledge another human being (or they just stare at you blankly. Again, I wish I was kidding. I’ve never seen more people just staring at other people like they’d never seen humans before than happens here, and often they’re checking out your jewelry, watch, shoes etc). I didn’t notice a single woman in Boston wearing either fake tan or false eyelashes (colleague just mentioned she’s getting fake lashes on Wednesday for a wedding she’s attending Thursday. Seriously?? *shudder*), and when I was taking the T during rush hour I noticed most of the women were wearing professional-looking outfits with flat shoes, rather than practically-cocktail-dresses or tottering around on heels they can’t actually walk in properly (it happens. Again, not kidding). Everywhere we went, people said “please”, “thank you”, and “excuse me” – several times since we got back Saturday I’ve wanted to tell people they should have said “excuse me”, because people just don’t do it here. There was real customer service – if a store didn’t have what you were looking for, they’d suggest alternatives or tell you where you might be able to find it, offering to order it if the other place didn’t have it. Here, they act like whatever’s on the shelves is what they have, and if you don’t like it that’s too bad for you. And when you walked into a store, staff generally said hello, rather than acting like you were a nuisance/interrupting them on the phone/etc.

It’s just a totally different world. And it’s the little details that make life so much more pleasant.

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