Life Lesson Number N: Never Swear At Strangers On The Train

We couldn’t help laughing at this story out of the UK. In a nutshell, Person A, who was running late to an interview was extremely rude to Person B on the London Underground, and found out that Person B was his interviewer. Needless to say, there was some awkwardness when both parties arrived at the interview.

The story resonates with us at Advanse for several reasons:

IT’S A SMALL WORLD

Crowded metro platform in DC - via Brownpau/Flicrk

Yeah, this happens a lot on DC’s Metro. (via Brownpau/Flickr)

People come to the region from all over the country, and all over the world. A lot of people take Metro in DC. And yeah, it’s never a good idea to swear at someone on the train, no matter how tempting, because it’s a small world and an even smaller town. There’s no telling if the guy you flipped off back on the Yellow Line might turn out to be the VC you cultivate for your start-up years later, half a world away.

Which leads us to the romantic “it’s not you, it’s me” variation on this theme: Never behave poorly with a date. Again, it’s a small world.

Anyone one of them could be fluent in your language and culture. (via Daniel Lobo/Flickr)

Anyone one of them could be fluent in your language and culture. And they may tune into your conversation even if they don’t look like they’re paying attention. (via Daniel Lobo/Flickr)

DO YOU SPEAK…?

In addition to hosting the capital (ergo, embassies and foreign nationals anywhere you look), the DC-metro region is also home to retired diplomats, universities, think tanks, major government departments (the FBI, the State department, the Pentagon, CIA to name just a few). Chances are that there are several people who speak your language with fluency. By all means, speak in your own language. It’s a town that appreciates foreign cultures and takes them in stride. But you might want to think twice before trading sensitive gossip or insulting someone to their face. He or she may understand every word coming out of your mouth.

NEVER ASSUME CULTURAL EXPERTISE (OR TRY TO OUTDO FOLKS)

So you’re from a family of chefs in your home country! Hate to break it to you, but it’s a town full of people who not only eat well (even if the restaurants don’t always reflect that fact), but are driven. If anything, DC-folk can take the joy out of something by making it competitive. It’s just who we are. It’s how we excelled at what we do, and it’s hard to turn that off even during off hours. So yeah, I see your lasagna and raise you this risotto. Cin cin!