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Cheap and Old

Irish can’t take a compliment. Maybe there’s something in the good, old, Catholic upbringing that makes people unable to notice and acknowledge anything good about themselves. Polish are very similar, but we have found the perfect workaround for the problem – we just don’t give compliments that often. Which I think is a great solution since our good manners prevent us from taking them in anyway. Communication in my country of origin is more direct, sometimes even can seem harsh as we have no time for pleasantries. Therefore I make a conscious effort to adopt the Irish way and be nice to humans, and dogs, I like dogs.

It can be a colourful scarf, piece of jewellery, flowery shirt, basically anything involving bright colours, flowers, or sparkles. I enjoy noticing nice things, it brightens my day and in general makes the office life a bit easier. My section’s printer is in a hall, so a lot of coworkers pass me by and I tell them something nice if I can.

Replies fall into two categories: the item in question is either from Penny’s or is very, very old. It’s amazing how other retailers are able to stay in business, unless they have those amazing sales all the time. After that “market research” I could swear that nothing is ever bought in Ireland for more than 20 euro. The other funny thing is that one should act surprised: ‘Really? That’s all? Go away!’. I usually can’t play along that far and point out that it’s pretty regardless the price.

What if I would walked up to someone and said ‘you must have got it dirt cheap’ or ‘it must be so old’. How ridiculous is that? There’s this interesting phenomena that we are OK with saying things not so nice about ourselves, making ourselves smaller, or in this case poorer, but we would feel so offended if we heard it from an external source.

I’m guilty of that myself, I use a lot of self-deprecating humour as a coping mechanism. When an Irish charmer told me I have lovely smile, I replied in the best English I learnt here: ‘That old thing? Got it at Penny’s.’

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