All right, the vehicle is reversing!

31 Mar

I am slowly learning the proper English usages of “All right.” Apparently it doesn’t always mean the same in America.

For instance, our porter is always greeting me with either “You all right?” Or just “All right?” The first few times I thought he was genuinely concerned about my well-being. My default facial expression is rather gloomy, leading to various teachers and homeless men over the years encouraging me to smile and cheer up, even when I’m feeling happy inside. So I thought Paul was just being extra considerate of his residents’ feelings. That was until I checked this site again and found that “All right?” just means “Hello, how are you.” It says the proper response is to say “All right?” back. I think I’ll just stick with “Yeah, how are you?” for now.

I went to get my hair colo[u]red in London for the first time today. I could write about how it was impersonal and made me miss my Kentucky stylist even more, but I already wrote about that in my Chicago entry, so I’ll focus instead on the use of “all right.” My colourist didn’t use “all right” in the same sense that Paul does, but she used it a lot. Every time she had to step away should would ask my permission. “I need to go get more foil, is that all right?” and “I’ve got to check on another colour, is that all right?” The receptionist did it too. They had complimentary drinks like tea and juice, but I just wanted water. “We have normal water, is that all right?” she asked. It was more the use of “all right” that I’m used to, but it was odd that they all kept using it. If I were in their shoes I would probably just say, “I need to get more foil, be right back.” Or maybe “I’ve got to check on another color now, OK?” I wonder if anyone ever objects and says no, it’s not alright.

And on a completely different note, I wanted to mention something funny I encountered on my walk to the Tube this morning. I can’t believe it was the first time I encountered it, and it happened twice on the way there. You know that annoying beeping noise that trucks or motorized shopping carts in Wal-Mart make when reversing? Well trucks in the UK don’t make that noise. Instead they exclaim loudly, “Attention! This vehicle is reversing!” –over and over again until the truck goes back into drive. I kid you not. It comes out of some loudspeaker on the vehicle. I actually started laughing out loud when I first heard it because it’s so ridiculous. And then I encountered another reversing vehicle a block up and I almost lost it. Apparently I’m not the only one, it has its own Facebook page (And please tell me the British word for garbage truck is “dustbin van.”)

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