My Lebanese neighbour tells me that when she first arrived here, she was really surprised how silent everyone was on the bus and on the train and that no one would give up their seat for her. The English, on the whole, only speak to people they know on the train and we are very irritated by teenagers playing music loudly on the top of the bus, oblivious to everyone else and their need for quiet and to read their newspaper or look at their phone.
She also tells me that she really learnt about how the British value queuing. She was at a bus stop with only one other lady waiting for the bus. There was plenty of room for both of them on the bus but she made the mistake of stepping in front of the other lady to get on the bus. The lady reprimanded her, saying ‘I was here first’. We do find it really annoying if someone doesn’t queue properly – I think in the US its known as waiting in line. The English think it is disrespectful if someone jumps ahead of us. My Lebanese friend commented that it was a sign that the UK is a well ordered society.
Another Lebanese friend tells me that when she started work, she would pitch an idea and the response would be ‘interesting, interesting’. She took this to mean that they liked her idea and would take some action. She later learnt it meant we are not going to do anything about it. Despite not giving up our seat, we are quite polite and would not probably not tell anyone, we don’t like their idea, we will be just neutral and wait for it to go away.