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.
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.