nw3 to nyc

Observations on moving my family across the Atlantic

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Manners matter

My daughter’s old school in NW3 had a big thing about manners. It had the rules about good manners emblazoned on the walls of the dining hall and I have to say, I thought this was a real strength of the school. I’m British, I say ‘thank you’ and ‘please’ and ‘cheers’ a lot. No one says cheers in New York, it’s what marks me apart. I say thank you when someone gives way to me and my buggy on the pavement; I do the same when someone let’s me in a shop, holds open a door or does something nice. New Yorkers don’t. I am sort of getting used to it, but it does seem pretty rude when you give way, hold a door or whatever and you get nothing. And yet when I am in a lift (must remember to say elevator) and someone gets out they bid me ‘have a good day’. When I go in a shop, a cafe or anywhere in fact, I am always greeted with ‘hello, how are you?’ and it sounds sincere. I always respond ‘good, thank you’ and then swiftly move on to what I want, having failed to ask them the same. If I’m feeling New York enough I will respond with a ‘how are you?’ I have come to the conclusion that actually no one cares how I am, these are just words that are used to greet you, it’s just a bit of a verbal dance to get to the main attraction. I will keep trying to respond spontaneously and I think if I say ‘thank you’, ‘please’ and ‘cheers’ enough, someone may actually do the same.