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  1. #11
    Lay the coin on my tongue SilkRoad's Avatar
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    I'm Canadian and I only really get "Ma'am" when I travel in the States. It makes me feel a million years old. But I also know it's people being polite and actually I do really appreciate the general American politeness and friendliness and attention to customer service, etc. I live in the UK and as much as I love it, people in any type of customer serving positions tend to be pretty rude here by North American standards.

    Anyway, I don't have much to add here, I think you/the other people who have commented are on the right track. It's interesting because I have an American friend (who I met here in the UK) who has spent a lot of time in the Middle East. She'd probably have something to add. She has studied Arabic extensively in Middle Eastern countries, spent time living and travelling there etc. I know she has told me that if Arab people have a teacher who they really respect they are likely to call them something like "Professor" even if the person isn't technically a professor. But those are actual Arab people we're talking about, not foreigners or whatever.
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  2. #12
    Senior Member Adasta's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SilkRoad View Post
    I'm Canadian and I only really get "Ma'am" when I travel in the States. It makes me feel a million years old. But I also know it's people being polite and actually I do really appreciate the general American politeness and friendliness and attention to customer service, etc. I live in the UK and as much as I love it, people in any type of customer serving positions tend to be pretty rude here by North American standards.
    I always find this really interesting. For me, American customer service seems false and, at worse, obsequious. I remember going into a shop in America and the shop assistant saying "Hey, how are you?" in that jovial, American way which is friendly, disarming and curious all at once. I replied "I'm fine, thank you. How are you?" He seemed dumbfounded that I had responded at all.

    However, I must stress that if you live in London then, well...that's not the UK haha. I had recently moved to London and I can tell you that people are more polite elsewhere. But that's capital cities for you.
    That girls are raped, that two boys knife a third,
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  3. #13
    Lay the coin on my tongue SilkRoad's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Adasta View Post
    I always find this really interesting. For me, American customer service seems false and, at worse, obsequious. I remember going into a shop in America and the shop assistant saying "Hey, how are you?" in that jovial, American way which is friendly, disarming and curious all at once. I replied "I'm fine, thank you. How are you?" He seemed dumbfounded that I had responded at all.

    However, I must stress that if you live in London then, well...that's not the UK haha. I had recently moved to London and I can tell you that people are more polite elsewhere. But that's capital cities for you.
    Ok...I know this is going to sound insulting, so I apologise in advance. But...my experience is that the vast majority of Europeans (certainly including the British, if I may call them "European" for this example) loathe Americans with a vitriol I certainly never encountered in Canada, and think they're all utterly fake, shallow, stupid, ignorant, ad nauseam. So I'm used to hearing this from Europeans about American customer service. And American anything else. I find myself in the odd position of being a Canadian who keeps ending up defending Americans because I'm so tired of the knee-jerk reaction of 99% of Europeans to Americans.

    I haven't known a lot of Americans personally, but those who I have, I've liked a lot. My friend who is obsessed with the Middle East is one of my best friends, but I should add that she's actually a very anti-American American. She's pretty much disowned the US. I really don't understand her obsession with the Middle East, though. She is literally not interested in any other part of the world, at all.

    Yeah, I do live in London and customer service is generally awful. I know it's better outside London. Generally though I find customer service in Europe pretty poor (appalling in Eastern Europe etc, though I love those countries for other things.) The thing is...when people complain about the fakeness of it in America, my response is something like "I don't give a flying %^&%* if they're being fake. At least they're attentive and giving me good service, unlike the average European shop assistant who looks like I've ruined their day if I ask for help."

    Sorry...bit of a thread derail here. and sorry for the rant...I just have a weird raw nerve about this subject.
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  4. #14
    Senior Member Adasta's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SilkRoad View Post
    [M]y experience is that the vast majority of Europeans (certainly including the British, if I may call them "European" for this example) loathe Americans with a vitriol I certainly never encountered in Canada, and think they're all utterly fake, shallow, stupid, ignorant, ad nauseam.
    I'm not offended; you're absolutely right! I don't think I fall into this camp of people though. I have several American friends and it's obvious that a country that huge would have nice/smart/interesting people as well as slightly more undesirable characters. I think this sort of "hatred" occurs because it's easy to do. America is a world power now but most people can see its corrupt yet masquerades as a moral force for good. People displace the anger onto ordinary Americans which is unfair. Although I must say that this constant rhetoric of Europe being some sort of "failed socialist state" does irk me!

    Quote Originally Posted by SilkRoad View Post
    Yeah, I do live in London and customer service is generally awful. I know it's better outside London. Generally though I find customer service in Europe pretty poor (appalling in Eastern Europe etc, though I love those countries for other things.)
    I know this is a very "British" thing to say but you really can't compare us with "continental Europe" in this regard! We're totally different. Trust me, my family are "true Europeans" (haha) and their manners really irritate me at times. Why can't they just queue and say "please" and "thank you"?

    On another note, Canadians are really nice. Even when I went to Quebec, knowing of their antipathy towards anglophones, they were really nice, too. Although I do speak French so perhaps they were lenient towards me, even allowing for our colonial actions...
    That girls are raped, that two boys knife a third,
    Were axioms to him, who'd never heard
    Of any world where promises were kept,
    Or one could weep because another wept.

  5. #15
    Lay the coin on my tongue SilkRoad's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Adasta View Post
    I'm not offended; you're absolutely right! I don't think I fall into this camp of people though. I have several American friends and it's obvious that a country that huge would have nice/smart/interesting people as well as slightly more undesirable characters. I think this sort of "hatred" occurs because it's easy to do. America is a world power now but most people can see its corrupt yet masquerades as a moral force for good. People displace the anger onto ordinary Americans which is unfair. Although I must say that this constant rhetoric of Europe being some sort of "failed socialist state" does irk me!



    I know this is a very "British" thing to say but you really can't compare us with "continental Europe" in this regard! We're totally different. Trust me, my family are "true Europeans" (haha) and their manners really irritate me at times. Why can't they just queue and say "please" and "thank you"?

    On another note, Canadians are really nice. Even when I went to Quebec, knowing of their antipathy towards anglophones, they were really nice, too. Although I do speak French so perhaps they were lenient towards me, even allowing for our colonial actions...
    Ok, then you're off the hook regarding your attitude to Americans. a balanced attitude is just something I have failed to find in too many Brits/Europeans! I absolutely agree with everything you say about why the America/American-bashing etc etc. And yeah, the "failed socialist state" thing is quite funny/ridiculous, on the other side.

    Yeah, I guess continental Europe is different in so many ways. Maybe there are too many continental Europeans living in London and my perceptions are skewed. Though really, I generally love Europeans and Brits both...there are nice/nasty people in any group.

    As for Canadians, yes, most people seem to like us and find us polite but...sometimes I suspect people just "like" us because we're pretty inoffensive, and we're supposedly sort of like Americans without the annoying aspects.
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