making social waves

Monday, about two and a half hours after we de-planed, the super of our new flat showed us around and explained the intricacies of the H & C and electric power rates, etc. On this tour, he took us into the kitchen to explain the hot water booster switch. Over the sink I noticed a white metal box-like thing with a smaller tap coming down next to the faucet. It was about the size of a large water jug.

“Is that a water filter?” I asked him.

“That?! No, that’s a bi’ o’ hot water, you know, for the washin’ up. Water filter, that’s a good one!” He was still laughing when we left the kitchen.

One of the more interesting reads of the summer for Alex and I was Watching the English by English anthropologist Kate Fox. One of the phenomena she denotes in English culture is the We-Do-Not-Talk-To-Others-On-The-Bus rule. It seems this is a context in which it is most culturally appropriate to exhibit the famous English Reserve. On our first bus ride, to Oxford city centre from Squitchey Lane, I ought to have remembered it.

Alex stood by Norah’s stroller while I sat in a window seat to soak in the scenery. Soon, after all other rows had at least one person sitting in them, it became necessary for a little round woman to sit beside me. We exchanged distant faint smiles as she sat down. In the space of a second, something like the following thought must have piped through my brain: This is almost my first social encounter with an English person! And my innate Minnesota Nice genes kicked in. “Hello.” (I did remember to say it sort of quietly, and with a bit lower pitch. Don’t want to come on too strong, now. She started in her seat, and I heard a little “hi” (or it may have been a sort of grunt, I’m not sure). We’re really rolling now, I thought. Then she stood up and stepped across the bus aisle and plopped into another seat!

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6 Responses to making social waves

  1. amy dresser says:

    that’s hilarious 🙂

  2. Kristen Broughton says:

    Loving your blog Betsy….will be missing you this Tuesday when we start up. I can’t even imagine what your feeling esp with all the pregnancy emotions raging as well…but I have this feeling you will all fit in wonderfully, even if you are nice and social on the bus 🙂

  3. Sandy Sherwood says:

    Betsy, What a great blog!!! As I read your story on “making social waves” that was exactly how I felt in NE. Enjoyed your “uplifting and praising God” attitude. Looking forward to your next entry.



  4. Erin says:

    bahahahahaha! oh bets, i’m sorry. i would have talked to you on the bus. 🙂 keep at it. she was just a bad egg

  5. Peggy says:

    so funny! I’m grateful we can still laugh together from across the ocean, time difference and all. You’re going to light up England, Bets, I just know it! 🙂

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