Many Irish people have an unusual way of greeting each other . When passing someone that you know on the street the common greeting is how are you ? , how are things ? how’s life ? etc . And the most common answer is very often ‘ not too bad ‘ which may often be followed by ‘an yourself ? ‘
Growing up I never found any of this unusual , however in 1996 I did my Aer lingus ‘ apprenticeship , i.e. seven hours on a plane between Shannon and JFK New York and found that I had become a plumber and had a job working for a guy called Timmy Myers in Brooklyn .
The first day that I began working for Timmy was quiet different in that within twenty minutes of arriving at the apartment block just off fourth avenue in Brooklyn I was ankle deep in cockroaches and holding a four inch cast iron riser against a bracket whilst it was being replaced ‘live ‘ . Being ‘live’ meant that if any one of the fifteen Mexicans living in each one of the 32 one bed apartments overhead decided to flush we would get to experience the other side of Mexican food . The brown side !
There was some serious shower time when I got back to the apartment that evening .
Timmy often remarked afterwards that , that was probably his worst day plumbing in New York and that he hadn’t expected to see me turn up the following day . However the choices of the Aer Lingus plumber are few and rare so I stuck with it and as it could only get better and I began to enjoy the work . We worked all over Manhatten and Brooklyn . One day could be a penthouse apartment just off of Park avenue whilst the next may be a job in Brooklyn for a guy called Don with a very large extended Italian family , two of whom would search our toolbox before letting us in and also frisked us down .
There was also a job that we did for a guy that Timmy told me was a ‘made man’ . Now , I was thinking of a ‘self-made man’ who would have started out with nothing and worked his way up the ladder but this guy worked for the other guy called Don and worked his way up a different type of ladder .
Both Timmy and I spoke English as our first language but there are very many differences between ‘Irish ‘ English and ‘American ‘ English . Like the word Garage , for instance . We pronounce it Gar- age . They pronounce it grrrraawwwwshhh . And then there’s the name game . One day Timmy asked me where the gas torch was and I replied ‘ in the boot !’ He looked at me , then down at my footwear , then back up at me and said ‘ Where ? ‘ I replied ‘ in the boot of the car ‘. He still didn’t get it so I summoned upon my memory of Knightrider with Michael Knight asking Kit to ‘ pop the trunk’ , and told Timmy that the gas torch was in the trunk , which he immediately understood . All I could think of was an Elephant .
But what stumped him most was our greeting each morning . He would greet me each morning with a ‘ Hey Berry , howayouuu ‘ , and I would always reply with ‘ not too bad Timmy , anyerself ? ‘ to which he would reply with a confused looking frown . It took a few weeks before he figured out that not too bad actually meant ‘ fine’ . He told me afterwards that at first he thought that I was having trouble settling in to life in the big apple and that not too bad meant bad but could be worse .
This got me thinking and from then on I made a conscious effort to reply ‘good’ every morning when Timmy asked ‘Howayouuu ‘ . Even though it felt awkward at first I actually felt a bit better each morning when I said ‘good’ and entered each day with a stronger sense of optimism .
Since that time I’ve been more aware of the way people talk and think and the effect that seems to have on them . One thing that I’ve noticed standing behind the counter of a bikeshop is that peoples attitude seems to have a huge effect on their success both on and off the bike .
We have a number of customers who are very successful businessmen and without fail each time one of them comes bounding in to the shop ( they always have a spring in their step ) and we greet them with a ‘ how are you ?’ they will always reply ‘ good ‘ and very often ‘ great’ . One of them was even in last Saturday and when Ray asked how he was enjoying the Kuota that he had purchased from us recently his reply was the best customer satisfaction reply that we’ve received since we opened back in 1999 . He said that he loves his cars and he has an Aston Martin DB9 which he loves to drive but that he gets more fun out of the bike than he ever got from any of the cars .
I was in the bank on Friday and met another customer whom I asked ‘ how are you , your keeping well ? ‘ , to which he replied ‘ I’m not ‘ before telling me of all of his ailments and woes . He then began telling me about the gears jumping on his sisters bike which she got in Super Value for 99 euro as if it were my fault , seeing that I work in the ‘ bike game ‘ and what should she do . I directed him towards the Legaun recycling facility where the bike would find a suitable home .
Then there are the bike riders . The really good ones , the ones who win and win regularly will often say ‘ I’m feeling strong ‘ , I’m going well ‘ , ‘I’m very happy with how the training’s going ‘ when you ask how they are going . They are honest in their appraisal of themselves and they believe what they say .
The other guys who say ‘ I’ll probably be dropped in the first mile’ , ‘I’m going shite’ , ‘I’m going racing Sunday but I probably won’t finish ‘ , their race is over before it begins . Training is very important for bike racing but if your head isn’t right all the training in the world along with eating the right food and getting the proper amount of rest is all a just a waste of time .
Get the head right first and the results will follow . Is it easy , hell no . But is it worth the effort , absolutely . What the mind believes , the mind achieves !!!