Small talk with strangers
Once again I am noticing cultural differences upon arrival in the US after a two-year absence. These are things that I know on paper are true in Finland but which jump out at me in real life as soon as we get to the US. Yesterday, the cultural difference on my mind was small talk with strangers. We went to In-N-Out and I had not one but TWO brief conversations with total strangers there! And another one at the La Brea Tar Pits! The girls and I were just flabbergasted. Of course strangers sometimes talk to each other in Finland and of course Finland has its own version of small talk (staring at people hahahahaha), but this was so jarring.
So I’m trying to get back in the American swing of things. Just now in an elevator I talked to the other person in there, making small talk about how the buttons were hard to push (wow, writing it down like that you realize how inane small talk can be!). And I’m working on lightening up my default RBF that I get to wear in Finland with no social consequences. I think I alarmed a US Customs agent at LAX because I just stared at her, unsmiling, until she nervously smiled and greeted me with a reassuringly warm “Hello!”
I haven’t gone to the store yet but when I do, I’ll have to make sure to stock up on commentary as I select my items for purchase so that when the checker asks the inevitable “ooh, got any good plans with this stuff?” or whatever, I’m READY FOR IT.