Having worked on several continents, I know how difficult it can be to adjust to different cultures.
In Poland, for example, men kiss men at work. In the United States, on the other hand, they sue for that kind of thing.
So you have to feel for any American who is suddenly asked very nicely by his employer to leave the deep safety of the nation and venture to, say, the United Kingdom.
They're different there. They're tight-lipped and generally superior.
Kinder employers, therefore, create little handbooks to prepare unwitting expats for a new world.
The Sun got hold of a book that Microsoft gives workers who are coming to Cambridge, England, from the U.S.
Microsoft has its Headquarters of European Research in Cambridge, and it wants its American imports to feel immediately more intelligent when they get there.
The book explains that British pubs are "homely places full of historical character (and characters!)."
Which does suggest that American bars are chilly places full of the anonymous and the inebriated.
What seems to have excited the British media most, though, is the imploring tone in which the manual instructs Microsofties not to bring dead animals through British customs.
Oh, and guns, of course.
Who might imagine that some clever Microsoft researcher would waft into his first day at work carrying, say, a Glock or even an AK-47?
Clearly there are some European Microsofties who fear that there is an American on its books who would think this entirely normal. I am sure they are right.
And British office politics can involve quite a different type of passive-aggressiveness -- one that might make Americans actively aggressive. So no AK at Microsoft U.K.
The Sun takes great pains to describe how difficult it can be for Americans to adjust to its great uncle.
The Mayor of Cambridge, Sheila Stuart, is originally from the Pacific Northwest. She described how one thing that stunned her was her inability to buy coffee late at night.
She didn't say, however, that she'd thought of using a weapon to change this cultural nuance.
One can only hope that Microsoft's booklet will allay disastrous occurrences and employee unhappiness.
Should some Microsoft expats in the U.K. still feel uncomfortable, however, might I assure them that it is possible to buy guns there if they need them.
One popular place for this is the pub.
Yes, inside the places with lots of historical character lurk all kinds of kindly, interesting, and businesslike characters.