In England it is very common to ask someone “You ok?” or “You alright?” or simply “Alright?” as a way of greeting them. In Canada the only time this would be asked was if you were just stepping away from some horrible accident, you were sick, you tripped, or your Mom was questioning your outfit selection.
For the last week I have had several people ask “You ok?” and I have been terrified. While I respond with a quickly mumbled “Yah” in the hopes that this will ease their worry about whatever it is they noticed in me, I have had no idea why everyone was assuming I was injured or terrified. As you can see in the above photo I have a pretty hilarious terrified face that comes out in strange, new or freakish situations – of which none of these inquiries were. Also, I have hopes that I would notice if I was doing a face like this.
This all came to a conclusion when at Tesco our cashier said it to a customer ahead of us, and since I could not see anything abnormal about them I knew I had found the perfect opportunity to learn what it meant. While our cashier thought it was pretty entertaining, she was a wonderful source of information and has brought so much comfort into my life.
Moral of this story is that for all travellers to England, do not worry – “You ok?” is simply a greeting. And for all Brits travelling abroad, the Canadians (and maybe Americans) have no idea how to respond to this phrase. Substituting with “How are you doing?” Would be a good plan.