I have been VBWRL lately (Very Busy With Real Life). Not complaining, just ‘splaining. In case you were wondering why I haven’t posted anything recently. Just in case.
One of the most unusual things to happen to us recently was a trip to Scotland. It was our first time in Europe. It still looks strange to see that word, “Europe”, and see that it can be connected to us (as in “the Pippas went to Europe). Very strange. I was earlier this evening looking at some stories about some proposed space explorations to Europa (one of the moons of Saturn). Europe, Europa. Freaky, isn’t it?
What was the best thing about Scotland? Obviously, there is no ONE best thing to an entire country, just as there can be no one BEST color (although, deep down, we all know that it’s BLUE). But one of the most impressive things to us were the people.
In Scotland, when you bump into someone, they will likely be the first to say “Sorry.” In Miami, when you someone bumps into you, first you check for puncture wounds.
In Scotland, when you tell someone you’re from America, they look interested, and ask you questions about where you live. In Miami, when you say you’re from America, they ask you “Donde esta?”
In Scotland, specifically in Edinburgh, a couple walked by, the girl’s hair dyed a ka-pow pink. I asked if they minded if I took their picture. They graciously posed with friendly smiles. If I had done that in Miami, I’d probably be typing this blog using a pencil held in my mouth.
The police in Scotland do not carry guns, except at the airports, where they carry an automatic weapon that looks so intimidating, if you look at it for more than a few seconds you find yourself confessing to something, anything. I asked the officers if I could take their picture. They politely, almost apologetically, explained that they couldn’t let me do that, because of people posting things on Facebook. If I had asked the same question of some officers in Miami, I’d be typing this blog by spelling it out in Morse code with my eyelids, assuming I still had eyelids.
Mind you, these events all happened with total strangers. The people we knew, who started out as friends of friends, in a matter of eight days, made us feel like blood relatives.
In the movie Local Hero (1983), a businessman from Texas, is asked if he agrees the people in Scotland are nice, to which he says: “Yeah, and they speak English.” Technically, they do speak English, but Americans have managed to dilute the language into something quite different. Below are some examples.
Sandwich = Roll
Dinner = Tea (whether you have tea with dinner or not).
For Rent = To Let
Rent = Hire
Yield = Give Way
Exit = Way out
Restroom = Male(or Female) Toilet
Scotch = Whisky (this is not a misspelling, they don’t use the “e”).
Lake = Loch
Doctor’s Office = Doctor’s surgery (my favorite).
Keep going = Carry on
Straighten out = Sort it out
Good job = Well done
Backpack = Rucksack
Awesome = Brilliant
Sprinkling (rain) = Spitting (rain)
To go (as in, “I’d like the Big Mac to go.”) = Take away
Period (as in what’s at the end of a sentence) = Full stop.
Also, the people of Scotland don’t yell to get someone’s attention. While at a mall there, I was sitting having coffee, Jenny walked by and I called out her name. Later, we were both in a store, and she called out my name to get my attention. In both instances people turned to stare as if we’d just fired a gun in the air. When we told our hostess about this later, she politely said “No, no, we don’t do that.” Well, in America, we do. In libraries, during delicate surgeries, at the final moment of a mime competition, you name the place, we will yell.
Lastly, a recent news story from Scotland epitomizes the combination of quirky and polite that permeate the country. Below you see a picture from the bbc.co.uk news website of a man in a giraffe suit. He is in Edinburgh, Scotland, playing a kazoo before giving dog food to a lady and her pet.
The man’s name is Armstrong Baillie. According the BBC News, he is 32 years old, originally from Glasgow, and now lives in Dundee, just north of St. Andrews. He puts on his giraffe suit (made by his mother) twice a week and walks about performing acts of kindness. His acts of kindness include handing out free bananas and water to marathon runners, picking up litter, and giving 10 pound vouchers to mothers in hospitals. He has become known as The Good Giraffe.
He got the idea after seeing a man in a gorilla suit playing the drums in Edinburgh (of course!). But exactly why does he do this? He explains: “It makes me happy when I see the difference in people when they see me in the suit. It makes them happy and it makes me feel cheery. Giraffes are like me, as my head is in the clouds but my heart is in the right place.”
Mr. Baillie, you’re a man after me own heart. Well done lad, well done.