Cultural chameleon

So it turns out that it's possible to want to blend in even when you're in your home country. I already blogged briefly about how much more noticeable certain differences are (between the US and Finland) going TO American from Finland, rather than the other way around. One huge difference was the amount of casual chit-chat and smiling that went on between strangers in the US while we were there this summer. When we're in Finland, I let my RBF run wild and free and remain silent during grocery store transactions. That's how I blend in, because that's what everyone else is doing, too.

But in the US, to blend in, I...chit-chat with cashiers? At first I did it for the novelty of it. When that wore off, I did it because the one time I didn't (and just remained silent while the employee scanned my stuff), the cashier kept giving me these side-long looks like I was some kind of psychopath. Eventually, I did it to blend in. It was just easier that way. So I became an expert at responding to queries like:

"Got anything planned for the rest of the day?"

"What are you up to this weekend? Anything fun?"

"Oh, this color is so cute!"

"These are delicious. I have to buy the big bag every time." [This was about caramel M&Ms, btw].

"My daughter has one of these, too."

Well, right before we left the US, I was at a store with Jeremy and he got to observe me acting out the chit-chat ritual with the cashier, complete with "I know, right?" and "Seriously, it looks great!" exchanges. When we got back in the car, he was like, "...I don't even know you anymore. How did you do all that?!?" Little did he know, I'd been practicing! ALL SUMMER.

(I never did get used to the smiling, though. It alarmed me.)

August 18th, outsourced

A training guide for ultramarathons