Like the train, it goes around and comes around

Consultant pilot fish is a VP at a small U.S. company, but he's working in the London office for a few projects that are just getting underway.

"Every morning, I'd hop the Tube for the commute to the Lower Thames office," says fish. "The Tube at rush hour is packed cheek-by-jowl. One morning I found myself in the middle of a group of three Londoners, all facing each other and myself.

"Suddenly, one started a rant about Yanks -- how stupid, rude and boorish they are. The other two chimed in; it turned out they all worked at a bank in central London.

"This went on for at least a half-hour. I stood there, taking it in but not saying anything, until we arrived at my stop. In my most clear U.S. midwestern accent, I said, 'Excuse me, this is my stop.' They all looked gobsmacked as I squeezed by, realizing they'd been haranguing Yanks all the time I'd been standing there.

"But the look on their faces then was nothing compared to that when I walked into a meeting room at the bank about two hours later. All of them were in the meeting at which I was our company representative. We'd just closed a huge deal to provide software and support to the bank, and I was going to be working with them for the foreseeable future.

"'Good morning, fellows,' I said. 'Good to see you again!'

"They were absolutely contrite and accommodating from that point forward."

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