Monday, October 7, 2013

An Odd Foreign Custom

When I finish caring for American guests, I accept their thanks and money, and I leave. With  guests from another country, I often find myself discouraging them from accompanying me to the elevator or down to the lobby or (if it’s a private house) to my car.

I mentioned this excessive politeness to a colleague from South America.

“They probably thought you were in a hurry to get away,” he said.

When I protested, he explained.

“When I first came to the US and visited an acquaintance, I was disturbed when he shut the door behind me after I left. Did I offend him, I wondered. Is he happy to get rid of me….? In my country, you always accompany an honored guest when he leaves and make sure he is safely on his way. To stay behind is not courteous. But this is what Americans do.    

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