I went down to the Post Office yesterday.
The village Post Office has had a bit of a chequered past having moved location a few times. At one time it was even part of my coffee shop. They finally decided to shift it out of the village altogether and move it to the top of a 250 foot steep hill to make it easier for the village old folk to collect their pensions.
Having moved up the hill it then went through a succession of owners. The current lot have been there for the last fifteen years or so and I’m not sure who the hell they are. Nearly every time I went in there was a different person behind the counter. They all seemed to originate in the Indian sub-continent, with various head coverings and the women in hajibs, or whatever you call them. The place seemed to act as a sort of holding place for immigrants.
Then something happened. No one knows what, as they don’t tell us
foreigners locals, but the stream of Pakistani/Indians/Whatever slowed down and was replaced by Chinese and locals. However Boss Man Asian remained in charge of the Post Office itself.
Boss Man is a very pleasant chap. For the sake of brevity I’ll call him Paddy as I don’t know his real name. He is obviously making great efforts to integrate and has swapped his turban for a flat cap. His English improves with each visit so where he was originally quite taciturn he is now eager to get into conversation. He treats me like an old friend and I get a loud “here is my good friend come to steal his wife’s money”. I should explain that a) he has a sense of humour and b) the only reason I usually go there is to collect Herself’s pension.
Yesterday I went in [to collect Herself’s pension, of course]. Paddy beamed at me and gave the usual greeting. I shoved Herself’s card over the counter and while he was processing it he looked up. “How’s she cuttin’?” says he. This took me a little by surprise as it is a common greeting between us Irish and translates as “how are things” and is no reference to any female or her mowing abilities. So anyways I gave him one of the standard answers – “shtraight down da middle” [not a mis-spelling – that’s how it’s generally pronounced between us Wicklow folk]. He beamed! He had probably been practicing it for days in front of a mirror, and to get the correct response made his day. “As long as you’re not cuttin’ to the left or right, you’re grand”. This response is not the usual but shows he is really picking up on linguistic quirks.
I have said in the past that I have nothing against foreigners generally provided they make an effort to blend in.
I have to hand it to Paddy though.
He’s becoming as Irish as myself.