Once upon a time there was a great nation famous for its superb manners and politeness all over the world. However, a fateful referendum uncovers that behind the kind words and the wide smiles there is hidden hostility towards everything non-British. While everyone is busy criticising the not so United Kingdom, my recent return to London brought back a few wonderful things we can borrow from the Brits.
It is strangely hard to find impolite staff in Great Britain. Their attention to clients is so immense that you cannot help but feel somewhat special. They will take you to your restaurant table with a warm smile and they will spend all the night making sure you will be going home content. Complain about something and they will swiftly make sure your wishes are met. Return a piece of clothing at the store and no one would even ask you why. Push someone in the metro and count how many times they’re going to say: “sorry”. Smiles, even when they’re fake, are healthy and they save you a ton of unnecessary problems.
Expect the unexpected
The Brits are incredibly cautious. They like to put up street signs, to write “look left” & “look right” on pedestrian crossings, to use heavy fire doors and to place security cameras in every corner. There is some charm in the fact that everything has been thought of. In life you can translate this caution as the principle of handling issues before they have even arisen. Buy a new toothpaste before you’ve started desperately trying to squeeze something out of the old one, put some petrol in the tank before the light goes red and above all: don’t leave anything, nor your tasks or your dessert for the last minute.
Mind your own business
Going to the store in your pyjamas without getting any strange looks is priceless. Imagine how liberating it feels that nobody cares about your looks! You’re having a bad day and you can’t be bothered to brush your hair – it doesn’t matter. You’re having a great day and you just feel like singing in the middle of the supermarket – congratulations! If you’re not disturbing anyone else, then you have the complete freedom of being your weirdest, quirkiest and truest self.
Follow the rules
It might sound surprising that rules were made to be followed. You, as cruel as it sounds, are most likely not going to have the privilege to be exempt from them. Do not be scared, rules are not that bad at all. In fact, following them is the primary reason why you look up to the “well-organised countries”. Give your seat to the elderly lady and save yourself the nasty argument in public transport. Do not rush to get on the plane – it’s not going to take off without you. It is also pointless to try to get off it first – we are all equal before the baggage carousel. That Facebook message is probably not as vital as your safety while you’re driving. And I’m not sure if you’re going to believe me or not, but the speed limits are not the minimal required speed on the road.
Some time ago I had one of those jobs where you have absolutely nothing to do. I was always trying to make up new tasks for myself but by lunchtime I was running out of ideas. It felt like I had some sort of time freezing superpower while I was in that office. If only I knew how to control it! I shared with most of my friends how frustrated I was with the job and everyone was saying: “Oh, I wish I could get paid for doing nothing!”. Truth be told, laziness and minimum-wage working ethic won’t get you far. Work hard, like the Brits, so you can party harder. Invest yourself fully in every single thing you do.
There is a ton of other stuff you can learn from the Brits – how to joke finely, how to make unmatched cupcakes, how to queue like a pro, and how to discuss the weather better than the weather man. And if the tea with milk is not to your taste, why don’t you try some sangria. Here are 5 more life tips from the Spaniards that will take you to a completely different, fully relaxed and entertaining life philosophy.