Politeness and Heirarchy

Was the bag heavy or light?

This happened a few years ago. I was travelling by bus to work. It was peak hours and the bus was crowded. However, I had a comfortable seat. When the bus stopped at one of the scheduled stops a few foreigners got in. One of them, a lady, was carrying a heavy laptop bag. She had to stand as there were no vacant seats. I asked her, ‘Would you like me to hold your bag?’ She answered, “Oh no thanks. It is very light”. From her accent I could make out that she was from Britain.

A few weeks later, I was again in a similar situation. The bus was crowded, and a young Indian girl got in; obviously a software engineer on her way to work. She too was carrying a heavy laptop bag. I offered,’’ Would you like me to hold your bag?” She replied, Öh no, thanks. It is very heavy.”

Similar situations; same question. However, the answers were very different.

Why were the responses so different? 

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