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Independent Thought

, , , | Right | July 24, 2019

(I’m working in a supermarket. It is late June and the summer tourist season is starting. I am stocking the candy aisle when a nice, elderly American lady asks me about our candy selection. She is very friendly and makes a lot of normal tourist small talk. Our candy section is located close to our “party” section which has paper plates, napkins, balloons, candles, etc., plus some varying seasonal things.)

Lady: “Are these all your party supplies?”

Me: “Yeah. Unfortunately, we don’t have very much, but there is a party store at the mall next to us.”

Lady: “But where are the seasonal items?”

(I direct her to the small seasonal display which, since it is summer, mostly has plastic champagne glasses, disposable grills, and other picnic stuff.)

Lady: “Oh, is this all? You are not prepared for the holidays yet?”

Me: *confused, trying to think what holiday is coming* “Well, I mean most major summer and spring holidays are already gone and late summer’s holidays are still a bit far away, so we haven’t started stocking for them yet.”

Lady: “One and a half weeks is far away for your store? That is very interesting, in America we always start to display holiday things much earlier.”

Me: “We do the same thing here, madam. I have to say I’m not sure what holiday you are…” *suddenly realising what she is talking about* “Oh, do you mean the Fourth of July?”

Lady: “Well, yes, it’s next week and you don’t have any seasonal items anywhere.”

Me: “Well, madam, we in Finland don’t celebrate America’s Independence Day, only our own. The Fourth of July is pretty much a national holiday for the United States. I don’t think any places outside of US celebrate US Independence Day…”

Lady: *seems very confused*

Me: “…since it celebrates your independence from England. We in Finland did not gain our independence then. We celebrate our own Independence Day in December.”

(Long story short, I had to explain — as politely as possible — the difference between national and international holidays. Soon, her adult daughter came to tell her they were ready to pay and she took over my explanatory duties. The lady was very friendly and interested the whole time and was not a bad customer at all. I just thought it was funny that someone had lived 60-odd years on this planet and had never come across the concept that all holidays celebrated in the US are not international.)

This story is part of our July 4th roundup!

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