Need a hand? Ask an Aussie!

No worries! speech bubbleAussies are, on the whole, a helpful and cheery bunch – at least compared to the inhabitants of southern England. (They’re friendlier oop north, so northerners constantly remind me.) The moment I get into London it seems like everyone’s walking around wearing a worried frown, doing their utmost to avoid you. Then, when I get off the plane in Sydney, I see smiling faces and helpful people again. (Provided Australia hasn’t just lost a test match.)

For example, when we first arrived in Australia back in 2002 we wandered around Bondi, and promptly got lost. So we got our map book out. Within seconds we had locals coming up to us, asking if we were lost and needed a hand. There was a connection there immediately. It seems to happen all the time; whenever you need help, a friendly local pops out of nowhere. Total strangers think nothing of coming up to you and starting a conversation. That just doesn’t seem to happen in London.

Shop assistants are generally helpful, too. They’ll often come up and ask if you need a hand – not in a pushy Dixons salesperson kind of way, but in a genuinely interested way. (Cat still hates this – she prefers to do her shopping unassisted – but I quite like it.) Even while you’re handing over your money they’ll happily chat away with you, often mentioning what a good choice you’ve made. Sure, a lot of it is probably good sales training, but they seem quite genuine about it.

In fact, we’ve had a couple of shop assistants that were so helpful they didn’t even care about losing a sale. We went to one department store to buy a washing machine. The guy was wonderfully helpful and explained everything, even getting out the manual for us. Then he said, “Don’t buy it here, though, mate – it’s 50 bucks cheaper down the road!”

Now that’s helpful.

3 Responses to “Need a hand? Ask an Aussie!”

  1. viv doyle Says:

    To be fair to Londoners, if you are in central London they are nearly all foreigners! Finding someone who even speaks English in the West End is almost impossible these days. So I guess their ‘unfriendliness’ is a fear of being asked questions they can only shrug in answer to!

  2. Angelo Says:

    I’m a foreigner who went on a vacation to Sydney and now temporarily living in Croydon, UK (about 20 mins. from London). Yup – Australians seemed more helpful when we were there for 1-week (I’ve also experienced getting lost and someone randomly helping me when they saw I had a map).

    But here in Croydon – we also experienced people helping us (mostly since we have a 3-year old daughter). People offering up their seats in the bus – I remember an old lady even offering her seat to my wife. Strangers saying Hi when I come across them on the street. Shop assistants smiling and carefully explaining stuff.

    It probably depends on where you live or who you talk to coz I’ve experienced rude people in both places.

  3. Matt Says:

    Fair point Angelo. It’s true that there are some nice London suburbs where people are friendlier than average. I know a couple of people who love living in Croydon in particular. Having a kid always helps a lot I find!

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