Culture Club

Working in an office is a natural breeding ground for cultural customs, sayings and attitudes to be shared and celebrated among colleagues.

I’ve inherited many different sayings, mannerisms and quips from working with such a plethora of different people over the last 5 years (my total office years to date).

I know about traditional Gujarati food, Lithuanian climate patterns and what a traditional dress from Cameroon looks like (FYI IT’S SO BRIGHT).

I can dance to bhangra, I say ‘innit’ sometimes without realizing (I think that just came from working in a call centre) and I know more about the political landscape in South Africa than I ever thought I would.

I welcome it all. It makes me more cultured, more knowledgeable, more interesting and more useful at a pub quiz.

However.

Sometimes, you overhear or see something and you think ‘is this a cultural thing? What do they mean by that’?

I’m sat, unassuming, minding my own business. Sure, I’m eavesdropping around me to see if I hear anything that tickles my fancy, but who doesn’t do that when they’re bored?

“I need a new body bag for the weekend.”

I glance to my colleague. Did she say body bag?  She continues.

“I have only black but I need brown for the weekend.”

Body bag. As in. A body bag.

“Black body bag just doesn’t go with blue dress, I need brown.”

She gestures across her torso.

“Oh, (across the) body (hand)bag.”

“Yeah what you think I mean?”

I don’t want to say  “I thought you meant a body bag for dead people” because that probably says more about my character than hers.

I also don’t want to say “I wasn’t sure if I misheard because sometimes I can’t make out what you’re saying because you have a very strong accent.”

I definitely don’t want to say “I thought you meant a human body bag, which wouldn’t surprise me because you scare the life out of me and have a very short temper so you may require an actual body bag if someone crossed you.”

So I just smile and nod along.

“Yeah…..brown and blue….. what else would you do?”

I panic poemed.

Sarah

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