Why Are the English So Bloody Nice?
Having just returned from a Rotary trip to Bangkok, I’m asleep right now. Whenever you’re reading. So, here’s a repost to honor my last big overseas trip with Rotary, a Friendship Exchange with District 1070 in England.
Why are the English so bloody, freaking nice? The thing, I think, that I will miss most about being immersed in England is the sing-song “thank you!” they attribute to almost every single minor event; the blissful “good mornings!” I received from my hosts, all of them; and the genuine kisses of “hello” and “goodbye.”
If I started going around kissing everyone, people would probably think me affected, but I wondered whether or not I could try to be nicer in some miniscule way. The English en masse made me aware of what a boorish prat I really am, in spite of my Southern-ness.
So, since I woke up entirely too early this morning, I decided to get my 5 mile Ravenel Bridge walk out of the way. What better way to test my English courtesy skills than on my first bout of exercise after three weeks of trying every cider I could find in the United Kingdom? Dragging my extra weight across the bridge in the hellish heat that I’m now not used to would certainly test my mettle, no?
In an effort to be completely aware of my surroundings, I left my i-pod at home and instead carried a big bottle of water. I charged up the bridge and immediately fell upon three victims of my booming “good morning!” As I continued up the incline, I sang “good morning!” to each person I passed, whether they acknowledged me or not. It felt liberating to be so nice.
Until I was about a third of the way up, with a stitch in my side, already sodden with sweat, and lugging a water bottle that felt like it weighed 10 pounds. My “good morning!” probably resembled a snarl more than a song by this point, but I kept at it, each recipient probably wondering about my sanity. The few regulars I saw likely thought I’d snorted something before I got out of bed this morning, because I normally don’t speak to anyone up there.
On the Mt. Pleasant side, I filled my water bottle at the fountain, as it was easier to gulp the dang thing down than it was to carry it. I stared back at the steep incline that was my return and felt defeated. Now, I had to go back and remember which people I’d greeted with “good morning!” so that I could say “have a good day!” to them, all while hiking uphill in a breeze that feels more like what happens when I open the oven door after it’s been on a while. My brain felt like hot mush.
I bared my teeth and persisted, all the way to the other side. While I may’ve looked more like a puddle who’d peed her pants by the end, I was actually strutting when I came off the bridge. I’d been nice to everyone, and most of them had been a surprised manner of nice right back to me. It felt really good to be more aware of the people around me up there than I normally am.
Maybe the English are on to something.