For John Eilermann St Louis, Missouri was his home for almost 35 years, a place where all of his family grew up and somewhere he expected to stay for the rest of his life. I was at a business convention in St Louis, Missouri around 4 years ago and got to talking to John. It quickly transpired that we were aiming to set up a very similar business and so we got to talking about making it a collective effort. The business went well and 2 years later John decided to move to the UK so that we could launch the business over there. Watching his adaption has been very humorous and this is what Americans are in for when they come to the UK.
In the USA, St Louis, Missouri included, the driving style is direct and borderline aggressive, if you want to switch lanes you switch, if you are trying to get out of a junction you just go and if you are waiting for someone to help you out, you’ll be waiting a long time. Here in the UK however, with the exception of big cities, driving is far easier. John was confused when people kept waving at him or allowing him to move lanes, the waves were in actual fact a thank you or an indication for him to move. John had to drastically tone down his driving style when he got here.
When I first met John in St. Louis, Missouri his love of coffee was clear to see, and he would regularly be walking around with a liter of the stuff from a local cafe. This was indicative of the portion sizes in many parts of the US, something which doesn’t happen in the UK. In fact here we are pretty reserved in terms of our portions and this was something which took a while for John to get used to. He would often think that he’d ordered a starter by accident, because his main was seemingly ‘far too small’.
What was hilarious to watch in his first few weeks here was his bemused face when people apologized to him. This is a serial disorder in the UK and people will apologize for just about everything, regardless of whether or not it was their fault. John crashed his shopping cart into someone and they apologized to him, he was stunned into silence and then curiously asked me what the hell was going on!
The tipping culture in the UK is pretty non-existent, unless someone has gone above and beyond during your service. Needless to say that it cost John quite a bit of money before he managed to get his head around this idea. The biggest difference between the US and the UK in this respect is that the waiters in the UK are paid far better than in the US, thus negating the need to always tip.