I arrive at Edinburgh airport and start chatting with the guy at the car rental desk. He’s probably in his mid 20’s, friendly and smiley. I tell him I’m going to drive around the highlands and then I’m headed to Europe next.
“I was just in Amsterdam two weeks ago. Amazing city. I was with my girlfriend though so I didn’t get to do and see everything,” he hints.
Wow, how incredibly generous and warm of him. we continue chatting as we wait for paperwork and machines.
“Alright my friend,” he says as I’m about to drive off, “is there anything else you need?”
I let him know I’m all good, thank him, and set off on my way to a small town just over an hour outside Edinburgh.
I arrive at 11:30pm, and a young girl comes to greet me at the door.
“Let’s get this sorted so we can get you to bed as quickly as possible,” she mentions.
The next morning, it’s the same girl running the cafe next door where I plan to grab breakfast. I order my meal at 8.05am, but they mention it’ll take 15min since they need to run and get some ingredients. I tell them it’s not a problem, get my stuff ready and wait for my food.
It’s now 8:30 and the girl apologises, mentioning they’re just missing the haggis and if I’d like everything else and she’ll charge me less. I agree. She asks me what I’m doing today, and I tell her I’m planning on going for a hike.
“So you want a good breakfast before you head off I’m guessing,” she says.
8:40 rolls around. The cafe has filled up a bit with some locals, and some guests have checked in and out to the hostel which she needed to attend to. She pops around the my table.
“Just so you know your breakfast in on the house. I’m so sorry for the delay.”
I’m caught off guard. She’s gone before I can formulate a proper response. The food arrives 5 minutes later, and I attempt to pay for the meal but she won’t accept it.
“Enjoy your hike,” she says.
Again, how incredibly warm and generous of her.
And these two encounters made me tell everyone who asked that Scottish people have been the friendliest and warmest people I’ve met so far.
But really, it was my first impression of them, yet it shaped my perspective of the whole nation and its people.
I experienced something similar when I visited the Scottish castles and learnt about the history between the Scotts and the Brits – it reminded me of Game of Thrones, when in fact Game of Thrones drew its inspiration from history.
So I’m trying to take every encounter as new, but it’s hard to not view things through pre-existing lenses. Awareness of your biases is probably a good first step though. I’m working on it.