N: So what is the situation today?
H: That was a non-smooth entrance. Oh wait, I need to see the transcript because I find it entertaining to see what the THING thinks what we said.
N: Why was it not not a smooth entry entrance?
H: Because you didn’t say hello.
N: I always forget. I also do this on the phone, I call someone and I just say, Hey, can you please send me the document you wanted to send me yesterday, and the other person says “Hello, good Morning” in kind of a reproachful way. I know it’s a custom to do this with hello and how are you and things, but I don’t think it’s relevant in most cases. Of course your case is an exception here, but in most cases it’s not relevant.
H: When I moved to the US, I did not know about the habit there that you enter a shop and people ask you “Hello, how are you doing today.” Everyone asks you that and I didn’t know that. So, when I arrived, every single store I went into people asked me “So how are you today?“ and I said, “oh thank you yeah that’s very nice, I’m a little bit jet lagged, it’s a nine hour time difference” and people stared at me like “what is wrong with her”, because the appropriate answer is “fine”. I didn’t know that, I learnt that.
N: I have this in a similar way with my colleagues in London. Well, first thing is they never want to speak to me on the phone. I don’t know why that is because for me it’s a foreign language, not for them, so I should be the person who doesn’t want to speak on the phone to them. I dont really see their issue. Anyway, but when finally I get someone to answer the phone, they say “How are you” and I say “great, how are you” and they say “not too bad”.
H: I think that’s a British thing.
N: I think so, too, and never inquire, but sometimes at night I lie awake and I wonder, should I have asked?? But probably not.
H: No, I don’t think you should have asked. I think it’s really a standard answer pattern. Depending on where you are, probably on this very cold and rainy island to say “not too bad” and then California you say “awesome”.
N: We should google that, maybe there is a map of the world, with a standard answer to how you the answer “How are you” which doesn’t raise any suspicions, which just floats through. It certainly is out there. We can ask people on the internet, on Twitter or Tröt or wherever.
H: It’s very interesting I remember that I had different guidelines for standard behaviors in the same situation for the three countries that I had lived in at one point. For many, many things, and the most impressive scale, I think was the one for personal space around me. And I realized that in the Netherlands you have no personal space. So people run into you all the time.
N: Probably because it’s such a small country they can’t help it.
H: Exactly probably they come so close because it’s really tiny and there are many people there and people run into you all the time and come too close and it’s really really awful. And in Germany, sometimes people come too close, and they say I’m sorry. And people try to keep a certain amount of space around you and if they enter that, they say “I’m sorry”. And in the US, it’s really weird because people are so distant, and you run into someone because you lived in Holland before you moved there and people say sorry to you even though you ran into them. And I realized at one point that it’s really a scale of personal space around you. And it’s like the two extremes are Netherlands and the US.
N: Now the interesting question is, does it scale with the size of the country?
H: Yes it does.
N: So there we have the poor people in the Vatican, they have to cuddle all the time!
H: Oh, my God.
N: Let’s change the topic.
H: You know, but I think that many people are in the Vatican because they want to cuddle.
N: Let’s not further pursue this, I want to go to a good place in my mind now!
H: I think we are getting used to the THING and we are getting back on track with our conversation.
N: Do you want to hear about my tree-cutting experience?
H: Oh yes, I do because I already heard from you that they didn’t give you an axe. In a way, I’m happy about that because I also think it is much easier with an axe to, like, chopping off your wn leg. But yeah, tell me everything.
N: You will hear a very special sentence, very very special sentence you have hardly ever heard from me. You were right!
H: Oh my god, yes.
N: Yes. I did not wear the leather soled shoes. I wore boots, but, you know, I have hiking boots actually but I didn’t think of wearing them. I wore city boots.
H: The ones you had in Prague?
N: Yes, and my daughter wore DocMartens. And it was all mud, like a mud fight. And there was no convenience at all, they had not arranged for any convenience.