Saturday, January 9, 2016

Big-hearted Scots

I've been here a week, and it's rained every single day, but that's no surprise. The jet lag was inexplicably worse than any other jet lag I've ever had getting over to Europe, which I think is because the sun rises at 8:45 and sets at 3:45 and it's just awfully difficult to adjust my inner-clock when there isn't daylight to help the process. I'm finally doing better and good schedule, though, so that is great. Work is good, my apartment is good, things are good.

Something that I have really appreciated here is that people are so stupid nice. I think on some subconscious level I was expecting it to be similar to Ukraine, where people in public are generally at minimum minding their own business and at worst mean (or drunk, or both). But my experience here hasn't been like that at all. All over the place people have been so kind. I don't want to venture into broad declarations about what "the people" are like (as Mormons tend to do), but I must say that most of the people that I've met have been thoroughly big-hearted.

Like, for instance, on Wednesday I got on a bus to take me back from work to the city (I commute to a suburb sort of thing - another story for another day). It's my first day on the bus and when I tried to pay, the bus driver informed me they only take exact change. It was like 6.50 and I had a 5 and a 20. I was about to buy a ticket just part way when the guy behind me shoved 1.50 into the dispenser and said "here, take it, I have a bus pass anyway." It was so generous, when I kind of expected a grumpy "stupid American doesn't know what she's doing response." 

Another transit story (it's always transit, isn't it?). Friday I was standing in line to buy my train ticket and the lady told me to use a different machine which then wouldn't take my card so then I had to get back in line but my train was leaving in 4 minutes so I was moderately panicked. When I told the lady this the guy in front of me immediately said, "well then, off you go" and had me stand in front of him. I made my train with all of 45 seconds to spare and was so grateful to him.

One of my colleagues, Lorna, invited me to "folk night" (another great story for another day, because it was the best) the day I met her. And the next day not only did she follow up, but she invited me to her house for dinner and offered me a ride back to Edinburgh, all before I could even remember her name.

Today after church one of the members came up to us and said, "are you taking the bus home? You live in Leith? I'll drive you. I'm Joe." So he drove us home, which we really appreciated, particularly me because I am really good at getting lost on public transport. 

Oh, and ten minutes after I met my boss, she bought my two friends and I dinner (haggis, obviously).

People here just don't seem to be as selfish. It definitely makes me realize that there's sort of an American culture that tolerates selfishness in public settings because of the inherit anonymity of public places. And it's made me want to change that, and be more aware of how I'm interacting with others, even when I think I'm anonymous, or when I think the situation merits selfishness. I want to be more like a big-hearted Scot. 

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