Yesterday I so enjoyed being interviewed on Premier Christian Radio. I was a guest on the Inspirational Breakfast show (you can hear my portion of the show here) with host John Pantry, who (amazingly) has been with Premier as long as I’ve been in the UK – 18 years! I loved hearing his stories in the break about living in California for a year when their children were young. He said how they were given so many provisions, such as a car. And one woman gave them all of her furniture, for she believed the Lord was returning soon and very soon and so she didn’t need it! (I wonder how long it took her to admit she’d got the timing of the Second Coming wrong before replacing the furniture she gave away?).
One of our callers yesterday recounted being in the States and trying to buy some stationery products and his amazement at being laughed at by the young women salesclerks when he asked for a rubber! It made me think of the story I tell in the book in the chapter “By Their Accent Shall Ye Know Them,” excerpted here:
On one of my yearly trips back to the States to visit family and friends, the kids and I made a pilgrimage to our favourite chic-but-cheap retailer, Target. The very first Target store was opened in 1962 in Roseville, Minnesota, and was “my” store growing up. When there I stock up on things I can’t get in Britain or buy items that are less expensive, to haul back to the UK. We were standing at the check-out line, placing the items on the conveyer belt as we waited for our turn. When I took out a Dr Seuss-related item, in a package of six, Jessica exclaimed, “You’re buying rubbers!”
The man ahead of us in line flinched but I said, “Yes, they’re for your birthday party.” I added quickly, “But in America, we call these erasers.”
She remained blissfully unaware of what must have been going through the mind of the man in front (for rubbers in the States are condoms). Differences in language can make for some interesting exchanges.
In the interview, John Pantry asked what were the listeners’ favo(u)rite British quirks and customs. What are yours?