YOU and YOU

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Do you have what I’m looking for? I want YOU! You are here.

Three common phrases that are asked of store clerks, told to citizens, and indicated to lost museum patrons. Okay, I might be the only person perplexed by this issue…but for me it’s something I never noticed before. In Italy, every sign that says YOU are here actually says YOU ALL are here. And when you’re in the pharmacy, you don’t ask the technician ‘do YOU have toothpaste’ you say, ‘do YOU ALL have toothpaste?’ Mind. Blown.

But seriously there’s something to say here between American and European identity attitudes. Americans don’t have an editorial you. At least, where I come from. And now that I’m thinking about it, I can recall several situations where I was venting to a friend about an editorial you or speaking to someone about an editorial you and used the word ‘you’ only to create confusion, fuss, or even get my friends personally offended. “No, no, no!” I’d beg, “I’m talking in terms of an editorial you! As in people in general.” And this comment would follow with some mumbling about not knowing what that is, or a passive aggressive ‘oh sure’. The only sliver of an editorial you that exists can be found in the American ‘y’all’. In America, there’s no difference between you and yourself. It’s all for one and one for all, either way. In America, it’s about where YOU are, what YOU are doing, what YOU need. In Italy it’s about the team, the collective. It’s about what the community or the establishment can do. Perhaps Italy’s more conservative in this regard. Italians have very strong familial ties, and hardly anyone seems to go it alone. I don’t think Italians ever say “I’m gonna do me from now on.” I can attest to this as someone personally raised in a very Italian influenced household. We were always home for dinner, we spent our weekends at my aunt’s house on Long Island enjoying enduring dinners and conversation over cream puffs. When Italians play a jinx game, you know, when two people say the same thing at the same time, Italians call jinx by putting their finger on their nose and whoever fails to do so fast enough is told they’ll never get married. That’s a jinx! In America you owe your friend a soda. However, my knowledge about the way Americans are raised is that one’s always against the world, proving themselves and looking out for themselves with one hand on their career and the other patting their own back. There’s nothing wrong with either side. Independence and drive are extremely sought after traits, and so is having a place within a larger community. I don’t think I’m proposing anything here; my investigation is very open ended. It seems we can learn some lessons from each other about being the champ AND the team player.

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