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International Incident

International Incident
Category: Articles
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Synopsis: We love our foreign customers, but there is room for cultural misunderstanding, even with those that have English as a first language.

Not too long ago one of our customers from the Republic of Ireland phoned us asking for the tracking number of a package we had sent to her. So I read the number out and, being a mail package, the number ended with the country code, which for us is GB.

“What was that?” she asked. “TD?”

“No,” I said. “GB, for Great Britain.”

There was a long pause. “Or it could be for Good Boy,” she said.

“Yes it could be, but it's the name of the country and that's not Good Boy.”

“No the GB could be G for Good and B for Boy couldn't it. Some people are sensitive about Great Britain.” she said.

I was anxious not to give the wrong impression, so I tried to explain that I wasn't making some kind of weird political point and that all signed for international postal packets have a two digit country code.

“You see,” I said. “If we were in France it would have said FR at the end, in Germany DE and so on. If you sent me something from Ireland there would be an IE at the end of the tracking number.”

“Well,” she said in parting. “I think you could call it something else.”

I suppose if Scotland leaves the Union we might have to, the term Great Britain refers to the UK minus Northern Ireland. What will we call it if Scotland chooses complete independence? Lesser Britain? Southern Britain? Not quite as great as it used to be - Britain?


About the Author

Steve Farr Electrical and Electronics blogger for, Steve also writes much of the copy that appears on the BestStuff web site.

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