Sunday, 1 August 2010
I guess I'll start with something one of my mentors from work has taught me. This particular person has moved back and forth to America and 3 places in Europe with wife and 3 kids in tow. He said that you have to make a conscious decision that wherever you live right now is your home. You don't go 'home' for Christmas, you go to see friends and family. If you're constantly thinking about going home, you'll never enjoy what you have and just live.
So here's to me living life in the place I've come to call home in the Northwest of England....
Sunday, 26 October 2008
Since arriving in England, I have come to be a bit of a fan of the Everton Football Club. They are one of the two teams that play in Liverpool. I guess you could call them the 'underdogs', these days anyways. Anyway, the point I'm trying to get to, is that to be an Evertonian, means that your glass is always half full. Everton fans are known to have a positive upbeat attitude.
Back to the rain....being that I am becoming an Evertonian, I realised today what the silver lining is with all this rain......
Amazing, beautiful rainbows almost every single day. And while the rain might get me down, one look at a rainbow makes me smile. So there you have it, the silver lining.
Plus, you have a great reason to buy rainboots (wellies) and rain coats, which you can't pull off in Southern California.
I have loads to catch you all up on, more to come...
Sunday, 7 September 2008
At first glance, you're probably thinking 'So what?' Let me just explain that in a work environment when a coworker or your boss says 'See ya soon', I'm instantly mentally scanning my calendar for the day thinking 'Hmmm, when is the next meeting I have with this person?' For weeks, I thought I was missing meetings or deadlines. I finally asked a coworker (after he said 'See ya soon') what exactly he meant by that. He looked at me strangely and said 'SEE YOU SOON or SEE YOU LATER'. Right, point taken. I'm an idiot.
Well, I got to thinking that there must be something that American's do that is equally confusing. Eureka! Last week I think I found one. Have you ever noticed that most Americans, no matter what the context of an email, will generally sign it 'Thanks, So-and-So'. Regardless of whether or not the person who will receive the email has done anything deserving of a Thanks....there it is at the bottom of the email. For a nation of individuals that on the whole is somewhat self-centered, why do we do that? Very strange, indeed. Wouldn't it be funny if we started signing emails with 'Your Welcome'???
Tuesday, 2 September 2008
Monday, 11 August 2008
To the majority of the world, the Olympics are a celebration of the cultures of the world, the competitive spirit, and the endurance and skills that we hold as humans. In Britain, however, the Olympics are a celebration of British athletes....and that's it.
I found myself watching some of the sport over the weekend. At first, I couldn't put my finger on what it was that seemed a bit off. And then, I realized what it was. The British commentators, won't comment on really any American athletes, except Michael Phelps. You could have an American diver getting 9.5's on every dive, and they would be commenting on their 14yr old diver who was steadily in last or 2nd to last place. And they definitely won't show a medal ceremony where the US national anthem is played.
I've also noticed, that Team GB (as they are calling themselves) aren't the strongest in general...but they ADORE the athletes who are representing them. It is almost to the point where the entire country is putting their hopes in just a few athletes. Hence, why there was 90 minutes of coverage of the Women's Team archery bronze medal competition. Seriously. Unfortunately for those ladies, they lost the bronze to France and all of Great Britain now hates them.
It was almost getting ludicrous. There were some swimming races where the British swimmer would have the slowest time going into the finals and be performing as such during the finals.....the entire time the commentator would be yelling 'Ah yes, smashing performance by ____ representing Team GB. Could _____ jump from 6th to medal standing?' Not to mention that the South African swimmer just broke the world record by 4 seconds!!!
All in all, though, I have to give Great Britain some credit. As blindingly obvious it is that they really only care about their own athletes, they really are the most patriotic country I've ever seen. I think maybe because the country is relatively small compared to America, they really do band together and support their own. Who cares if their 'Rudy' happens to play Badminton? Guess what, all of GB will learn the rules of badminton and cheer them on! Sometimes, in America, we forget how big we are and forget how many people and resources we have to put into our sports teams. Imagine how different the Olympics would be if you were in a country that only had athletes qualify for a handful of events.
For those of you who are following Michael Phelps in his 8-Gold Medal March....2 down, 6 to go!!!
Wednesday, 23 July 2008
You know how when you're talking to someone and you would like them to call you to give you information about something? Well generally, I would say 'Gimme a call'. Over here, the common phrase is 'Give US a call' or 'Give us a bell'. Does 'us' no longer refer to the plural, indicating more than one person? Very strange indeed.
More to come. Be sure to leave us a comment.
Sunday, 20 July 2008
Last Tuesday, I was setting off with a coworker around 1:30pm to head down South to an equipment supplier. After dropping off his car, taking my dog to the kennel, and filling up with petrol, we were on the road by 3:30pm. The drive should be around 4hours maximum. Things were going splendidly until we listened to my GPS when we should've listened to our gut. Near Birmingham, my GPS said to take the M6, while my coworker suggested we take the M6 Toll (which is like 4 pounds!!). So, we take the toll and wait for Emma 2 (that's what I named my GPS) to re-route us. But Emma seems confused and can't find an alternate route, so after paying 4pounds to get on, then 4pounds to get off the toll (thank goodness for expense reporting), we turn to get back onto the M6. About halfway onto the ramp, we realise this was the worst decision we could've made.
No joke, the motorway was a parking lot. People were out of their cars chatting, smoking, etc. Some were even walking up into the bushes to go to the bathroom. I think the lorry driver next to us had a kettle and was making tea!! No one else seemed to think this was odd. FOUR HOURS LATER...we started to move, it was another 2 hours before we saw the cause of the accident...a lorry had self combusted.
THat was bad, but it seriously gets worse. A trusting individual that I am, I let my coworker program the destination into the GPS. So, around 1130pm when we expect to be nearing our hotel for the night...just around the next corner....hmmm that doesnt look right. We are out in the middle of nowhere and ol' Emma is screaming ' You have arrived at your destination'!!! My inclination says, um no we haven't, but I check the program to find that somehow my coworker had entered the following destination '002, England'. Now, in case you're wondering '002 England' is somewhere about 15 miles from our destination of Newbury. Lovely place, you should visit.
And so we found ourselves driving through scary country roads to cut over to our true destination. Oh no, that's not it. In that 15 miles thru the country, exactly 1 deer, 1 fox, and 4 bunnies jumped in front of my vehicle. Around 12:30 am (yes 11 hours post departure), we arrive out our 4 star accomodation to find the bar closed. Thank goodness the owner agreed to let us in for a beer before we went to bed. Argh.
Funnily enough, our trip got better. The 2nd night we were in another town, Royston. In preparation for the trip, the vendor had recommended 2 hotels: The Old Bull Inn and The Banyers Hotel. The Old Bull Inn was full, so I booked 2 rooms at the Banyers. It seemed nice enough, though odd that there was no reception and you had to check in at the pub. The hotel appeared to have been recently renovated, comfy beds, nice bathroom fixtures, etc. Fine. Long story shorter, we get up in the morning and head to the vendors headquarters. As we're walking in the vendor says 'Did you see any ghosts in the night?' I laugh, uncomfortably, saying 'No, just slept really well'. To which he replies, 'oh well you know the Banyers is haunted'.
YOu know those cartoons where the character gets so mad he turns red like a thermometer and then explodes. That's kind of what I felt like.
So check out this website: http://www.banyers.co.uk/history.htm or www.hauntedhotelguide.com and search for the Banyers Hotel in Royston. They have a nice full English breakfast.
And so, my friends, that was my week. May yours be full of safe driving and no ghostly encounters.
Saturday, 5 July 2008
Tuesday, 24 June 2008
After 4 months of fat camp and relaxation at my parents home back in the Midwest (he lost 3-5 lbs!!!) he’s journeyed 1 long car ride, a night in a kennel, 2 plane rides and about 3 hours in customs at the London Gatwick airport. Happily enough, he did remember me (I think!). The whole process of moving a dog overseas is quite interesting….
Apparently the UK has never had any rabies on the island, so they are very strict about letting pets in. In the past dogs have been required to be in quarantine (i.e. doggie prison) for 6 months upon arrival in the UK. It took one mental image of Buster in a striped prison jumpsuit locked up in a cold damp cell to make me think about not taking the little guy over here with me. Luckily, the rules have changed and he just had to have some tests done back in the states before he could come.
So, that being said, all is good in my life now. It actually sort of feels like home, which is a big improvement. Before long, Buster will have marked (peed) on most of this island! I'm not sure if England is ready for this little guy!
Person with no friends-----Billy-No-Mates
Inspection, for cars-----MOT (not sure what the acronym stands for)
To Go, as in food-----Takeaway
Temporary Assignment, for work-----Secondment
You’re joking!-----You’re taking the piss!
Pounds (person’s weight)-----Stone (1 stone = 14 lbs)
Tired/ Broken/ Messed Up-----Knackered
Bummed Out/ Down-----Gutted
Stand in line-----Stand in a queue
As if that's not confusing enough (and trust me that's only a START to the vocabulary differences)....there are apparently somewhere in the realm of 30 different UK accents. Again, stupid American, I thought they all sounded like Jude Law and Posh Spice. Keep in mind that I word in a loud environment as well....strange words, loud noise, strange accents I'm not used to...I'm just getting to where I don't have to fully concentrate on a person's lips when they talk to understand what they're saying!
Well, til next time...
Friday, 30 May 2008
One thing I have learned in my short time here, is that the UK takes security of information very seriously. Let me explain my banking situation.
Upon arriving, I of course needed to open a bank account here. So, I identified the bank I wanted to join and went in with passport, work permit, and a bill with my name/address on it. After some struggle (they didn’t like that I didn’t have a 3-year credit history in the country), they agreed to open a debit account for me. Lovely.
In order to use my account, I require the following:
-Sort code (indicates the branch holding my account)
-Member # (separate 10-12 number code for logging in online)
-Online login password
-Debit card #
-Debit card pin # (separate from other passwords)
-Secret code word (when logging in online it requires me to enter various letters of the word—even if my login and password are correct)
-Telephone banking member #
-Telephone banking pin # (different from other pin and password)
-Debit card reader (my favourite) – when logging in online, I have to insert my debit card, get an 8 letter password, enter it online…did I mention it’s the size of a calculator?
I may be wrong, but isn’t this a little overkill? Couldn’t we consolidate passwords a bit? I can barely remember how to login to my various online accounts that JUST require a password. Then I think…well why isn’t the US as strict?
The most amazing thing in the world has happened….my furniture and personal items have arrived! Thank goodness they weren’t on the Titanic! I don’t generally think I’m super materialistic, but my GOD living in an apartment with 1 suitcase worth of clothes, a folding chair, 1 plate, 1 bowl, 2 forks, 2 spoons, 2 knives, and a bed, for 6 weeks is just not ideal. So, as you can imagine I was jumping for joy when the truck arrived with my items.
It’s funny, though, because when my items were packed in California by 2 spanish-speaking men…I thought nothing of it. In fact, I thought nothing of them marking the outside of my moving boxes in Spanish. It wasn’t strange at all until my boxes arrived here and I had 2 English guys unloading my things and trying to figure out what boxes went in which room. I don’t speak Spanish and I don’t fully understand English accents just yet. What a mess! I had to draw upon my 2 years of Spanish in 5/6 grade to remember that libros means books, etc!
Another learning for me this past week was that the holidays are different here. Yes, I know that probably sounds incredibly obvious (apart from International Holidays like Christmas and New Years)….but what about, um, Mother’s Day. It is not that I don’t understand or believe in the importance of such days, but it is part of the culture to advertise and remind the public of these events, in the US. I no longer can rely on just knowing when these holidays are, I now need to actively seek out and be proactive to ensure I am aware of such holidays. I will need to purchase a US calendar for this exact reason, and a European/English calendar so that I remember the week numbers. Over here, people do not refer to ‘weeks beginning on’ or ‘week of’, they refer to the actual week # in a year. It actually makes perfect sense, but it’s quite confusing if you aren’t used to it and difficult to relate dates to one another (for me).
So, as if I wasn’t poor enough already at keeping dates and remembering holidays, I now have a few more items working against me. I hope not to disappoint, but if you know of a holiday upcoming, please send me a note with the week # and date as a reminder. I will mark it on both of my calendars!
Thursday, 24 April 2008
Now let me just say that choosing a football team to root for in England is sort of like choosing which political party you're going to vote for...and everyone will try to get you to root for 'their' team. Just in the area where I live there are 3 major teams that are followed: Liverpool, Manchester United, and Everton. Everton is kind of the under-dog, if you will. One of the guys from work had a spare ticket, so I joined him and his friends for a game on a Thursday night for the Everton v. Chelsea game.
We meet at a pub, of course, for some beers. Then we drive closer to the stadium and stop at a pub, of course, for some more beers. And on to the stadium from there. Once we arrive at the stadium, one of the guys meets me out front with a pink Everton hat and scarf (an effort to 'woo' me as a fan). I have to admit, it's working a little bit:) So after saying thank you, I proceed to enter the stadium, expecting to head straight for the beer stand (it had been >5 min since we'd had a beer).
Now, maybe this is stereotypical, but I expected football to be the apex of drinking in England. Turns out, you can't drink in the stands:( What the f___? Fine enough, less trips to the toilet. But, the game was great...I learned all sorts of new words that I can't repeat anywhere other than a football stadium. But it was great...Everton plays in a relatively small stadium in Liverpool, reminds me of Wrigley Field. Both teams have little songs and chants that they yell. Oddly enough, you can't even really see the timer or scoreboard from most seats -- in the US it seems they post this info all over a stadium.
Unfortunately, Everton lost, and Chelsea went on to the quarter-finals...but I really enjoyed the game. In typical Susan fashion, of course, I tripped and landed flat on my face outside of the stadium. Awesome. England 1, Susan 0. Some things, like my clumsiness, will never change! I swear it wasn't the beer!
This week's language tip is regarding saying goodbye over the phone. In the US, we would say a simple 'goodbye', 'talk to you later', or just 'later'. Normal tone, emphasis, etc. Here, they say the word 'bye' in a higher pitch, almost like a question and they proceed to repeat it up to 3-4 times. It is as if they are having a game to see who can say 'bye' last when hanging up the phone. This is a game that I have yet to win. Very strange, isn't it?
Another installment of your favorite updates in the UK headlines...as quoted from 'The Standard’, Chester & District, 24th April 2008 Print.
- ‘Black cab drivers to stage protest over unlimited licence decision’. Well the good news is that this is not what I thought. This is not referring to African American cab drivers, apparently they are referring to cab drivers who drive black-coloured cabs.
- ‘Man jailed for going ‘beserk’ in city pub’. Ah, yes, it’s not an installment of the UK news if there’s not a story about some guy who’s been drinking for the last 10 hours in a pub throwing things and causing the ‘members of the public to cower’ due to his behaviour. Apparently his estranged lover gave him some bad news during hour 10 of his drink-a-thon
- ‘Abandoned cat George was thrown from car’. Okay, seriously? So, some person was witnessed throwing this cat from their car and the cat subsequently wandered the streets until its hair was so matted it was ripping the poor little guys hair off. Some kind soul has taken him to a shelter where he is being re-socialised. The article actually says that they named him Gorgeous George to try and build his confidence. Right.
- Finally, I decided to venture out this week in search of a true gem….into the singles ads. And what a gem did I find….’Dizzy but intelligent hard working blonde, seeking special, seductive male for no strings good times.’ Um, isn’t that prostitution in print?
And that's it for this week's update...till next time...
Tuesday, 15 April 2008
I opened the page to a town called Stratford-Upon-Avon (yes that's the name of the town), which is the hometown of William Shakespeare. So, within 2 hours, I had packed, gone to the bank and gassed up the car. Within 2 more hours I was there. I quickly called one of the B&B's in the guidebook and checked in for the price of 40 GBP (i.e. ~$75) for a TINY room, but really cute and well-equipped. Now for those of you not familiar with a B&B, it truly is someone's house with various rooms you can rent. So there are en-suite rooms which have their own/attached bathroom OR there are those with unattached bathrooms, but there are also common areas shared by the owners and all of the visitors. The owner typically makes a formal English Breakfast served in a proper dining room with China and the whole bit. Very nice.
So, I spent the afternoon wandering the town with churches that are centuries old, viewing ol' Bill Shakespeare's birth and burial grounds. There is so much history in these towns its amazing. I ended up finding the Royal Shakespeare Company's Theatre and they had obstructed view tickets to the Merchant of Venice that night for just 18 GBP! SO, I figured why not and bought them. Turns out that the obstructed views seats are awesome and not very obstructued, so I saved like 20 GBP!
The following morning, after English Breakfast, I walked along the River Avon early in the morning and watched the crew teams practicing. I then hopped in the car to go on my first Castle Hunt! I am just amazed by castles. Seriously, I just can't conceive living in a castle or fighting in a medieval battle or even wearing those crazy dresses! Now let me just say that there are 2 main types of castles to see. There are the ones that want to make money by any means necessary and turn into a bit of a showy circus and then there are the English Heritage properties that are preserved as is, no frills whatsoever. Well, I saw quite the spectrum, let me say. I drove around 10 miles from Stratford-U-A to Warwick Castle. For the hefty price of 17GBP, I walked in to see the Six Flags of Medieval Castles...in other words, there were all sorts of interactive videos and displays and wax sculptures. There was a guy dressed in battle gear that was showing kids how to shoot a bow and arrow...and there was (included in my fee) a ticket to the Ghost Alive! exhibit. Anyone who knows me, knows I'm always up for a thrill...so I join in line.....
A common American greeting to a passerby or to begin a conversation is 'How are you doing?' or 'What are you up to?'. Not so much here. For the first week, I seriously thought that I looked sickly (or suffering as they say) or lost because everyone kept asking me 'You alright?'. I would hesitantly reply yes, only to realize that they didn't really care if I was truly alright, but only saying it...much as we would when we ask how someone is doing.
The other thing that sticks out to me is that whenever someone is talking and they want to pause, instead of saying 'um', 'ah', 'so', 'therefore', they say 'yea?' with an inflection in their voice. Now, I took this as an actual question, as in whether or not I agreed or understood what they were saying. Not the case. It is entirely rhetorical as far as I can tell.
I guess both of these situations exemplify a typical question of concern or request for feedback in America. Therefore, when people here say these phrases to me, it feels that they then are interrupting my response because they continue talking. It's one of those strange cultural things that I think will take some time and is kind of humorous. We're both doing what's natural for us, but it has such a different interpretation.
My 3rd main observation on British communication involves when you walk into someone's office to ask them a question. Typical Americans love instant gratification and response, therefore when someone walks into my office to ask a quick question, it is typical to wait for 10-15 seconds while I finish my sentence. At this point, I might pause my conversation, turn and ask how I can help. In England, it seems, that when you go to ask someone a question, they will wave you in and then proceed to finish possibly a 10-15 minute conversation without acknowledging your presence almost. It's kind of nice because it shows they're focused on the conversation at hand, but nonetheless, different from what I'm used to!
Finally, I have found that when someone is laid off here they are referred to as 'being made redundant'. Now, I may note that I have not managed to already be laid off, thank goodness. However, I have heard the term and feel that it is an even more positive way of saying you're 'letting someone go'. It makes sense when you're backfilling someone to say they are being made redundant, simply by the definition of the word redundant....but how does that work when you just get rid of a position? are they then just fired? Will let you know if I figure it out.
Friday, 4 April 2008
Sunday March 30, 2008
‘The Standard’, Chester & District, 27th March 2008 print
• ‘One of Britain’s Safest Cities’, subtitle ‘Chester named as one of least burgled areas’. Ah yes, apparently in England you can make up words like ‘burgled’…is that a word? How do we Americans not know about this word? I believe I’ll start using this immediately. I will burgle the word burgling from England.
• ‘Hunt is launched for Rows sex attacker’. Now, typically not a funny topic, so I will not poke fun at the topic. However if you were to read into the short article, you would find this in the 7th paragraph: ‘The man is described as white, in his late teens, about 5 ft 7 ins tall and with a pale complexion’. Does anyone else feel like this describes just about every teenage boy in England? Not to mention a number of them outside of England.
•‘Tight squeeze for Layla’. This is a good one. In case you were wondering, Layla is a lovely 5-yr-old Staffordshire Bull Terrier. In Paragraph 6, the writer informs you that ‘Nina said: “He (her son) threw the ball for the dogs to et. Suddenly Layla went smack bang into the metal railings. She had her two front legs through and kept trying to push herself forward but was wedged.”’ No joke, they called a fire truck to come and free this dog. While it is valiant of the fire fighters and all involved, the dog was safe after all, but this was seriously a HEADLINE!
Monday March 31, 2008
‘The Standard’, Chester & District, 20th March 2008 Print
• 'Man banned from pubs for 10 years'. Enough said.
Ah yes, another exciting week here in Chester, UK. For this week's installment, I have a variety of items to discuss, primarily relating to my 1st day of work.
I feel I've made a pretty good go at mastering driving on the left-hand side at this point, albeit I admit that I do not FULLY understand the rules of the road. However< I'm getting by and relatively comfortable on the road...or so I thought. My place of employment is settled nicely between an industrial park and a quaint little neighborhood. What I mean is, some people from work park on the street, while others park down the block in a parking lot. In an effort to be 'one of the team', I chose on Day 1 to not park in the employee parking lot, but park on the street along a row where a number of other cars are parked. I get in the building and settle down at my desk and am just chatting with my office mate, when a co-worker walks in to inform me 'welcome and you've just gotten a parking ticket'. Wonderful, minutes after I start my first, day we're off to a great start. Apparently, the faded yellow line where the other were parked 'doesn't count' and the actual yellow line where I was indicate no parking. As a typical American, I will continue to challenge the 35 GBP fine I've incurred. Status update to follow next week.
Well, I can only go up from there, right? Ha ha. You know me too well. Working hours here are much less taxing than those back home...it's actually ILLEGAL to work more than 48 hours in a week! However, due to the time change and that being my first day where I could actually call home and check email, etc, I chose to stay a bit later, say 7pm. Now let me explain that you are not allowed to wear your uniforms home, so I abandoned my desk around 7pm to wander to the locker room to change. What are the chances that this was the exact time that the nighttime security guard walked around and locked ALL of the offices and front doors to the building??? Great. The good news is that my car keys, home keys, mobile phone and all of my phone numbers are in my office. So, I find the security guard, who informs me that not only does he NOT have keys to that office, but he doesnt have anyone's mobile or home number than does. As I am examining the lounge chairs in the lobby to figure out the most optimal sleeping position, 3 maintenance guys wander up with a sledgehammer, toolbox, and block of wood. Now I will contest that this is quite possibly the MOST secure lock known to man: hinged on the inside, shatterproof glass, double inset frame. After about 1 hour of gently trying to maneuver the lock open, the sledgehammer comes out (see picture). So my legacy has been replicated here in the UK already on my first day. Now I'm the girl who 'got a parking ticket and sledgehammered the door open on her first day'.
Finally, I leave you with quite possibly my STUPIDEST moment of the week...my first time filling up the petrol tank in my car. Interestingly enough, I have (temporarily) an Audi A4 that runs on DIESEL. So, I pull up, like normal, pop out and walk to the gas tank. I push on the corner, and it won't open. So, I just figure, oh right, gotta flip the switch inside the car. Hmmm, no that doesn't work either. Mind you, there is a 'white van man' (whom I will explain later) waiting behind me laughing as I walk back and forth and start punching the gas tank cover. Finally, I decide to be a bit rational and open the glove box to read the manual. It turns out that you need to unlock all of the doors (which doesn't seem very safe to me) in order for the gas tank to open. Ah yes, the elusive 5th door. Unfortuantely, by the time I realized this, every person at the petrol station was watching me and smiling.
Finally, I leave you with some photos of my new, and empty, apartment (or terraced house as it's called here). Will send more each time.
Until next time...
Sunday, 30 March 2008
How many of you in the US (or otherwise) have had your car damaged by a runaway trolley (grocery/store cart)? had to park farther away from the store because someone has parked a trolley in a parking spot and you're too lazy to move it? OR been amazed that stores are willing to pay an employee to go and round up all of the trolleys in the parking lots (um, efficiency much?)?
Well, let me tell you, that apparently the UK has solved this one for us. That's the good news. The bad news is that they don't instruct those of us 'not in the know' on how to use their mastery of innovation. So, I walk up to Morrison's (mind you after my first driving adventure on the other side of the road) to grab a trolley. Sounds easy enough, right? HA! That's where you're wrong. See, they have installed locking hooks to hold the trolleys/carts together. I figured, oh how clever, let me just unlock this and be on my way. After a good 2 minutes of using my god-given superhuman strength to try and pull these apart, I decide to forfeit my pride and ask an innocent bystander what I am doing wrong. This young woman sort of smiles and says, 'oh yea, you just need to put a pound in'.
Of course, what was I thinking? Why wouldn't you have to put in a pound (i.e $2!) just to use a trolley. But, I did it, and it worked, so I'm off to shop. Now, you might think that's the end of this great invention, but no! Upon purchasing my excessively priced groceries and placing them in my trunk (or boot), I realize that the motivation to return the trolley to the central trolley pen is that when you do so, and re-hook the trolley to another one, your pound pops back out and greets you! Genius! Even Americans might do that! Imagine, every time you use a cart, you have to insert $2 and the only way to get it back is to return it. Oh these clever Brits! I love it!
My next major task, was of course, to open a bank account. Fine. I found the bank I wanted to join (Barclay's is a partner of Bank of America, which is ideal). So, yes, it's raining a bit, but it's faster to walk to the bank, than to try and find parking near the bank (since the bank is in a cathedral that is hundred of years old in the centre of the city). So, I grab a hooded sweatshirt, warm vest, winter hat and start walking. I figure this should properly arm me against ol' Mother Nature for my short 5-10 minute walk.
Remember, I am still in the pleasant state of appreciating the rain, as SoCal has very little of it. So, with a bit of bounce in my step, I get um about 2 blocks from my home only to discover my innocence. Remember when we were in high school or college and thought it a good time to splash innocent bystanders who are walking down the street when the rain is POURING BUCKETS already? Hmm, well, apparently they do that in the UK as well. Awesome. No hood, vest, or hat will protect you from tsunami sized waves of rain and streetwater. The even better news is that I couldnt go back home to changes because: a) i have very little clothing here so far and b) i would be late for my appointment to open my bank account, which is sort of important.
So, here I am trying to explain the to banker that, yes, I am a legitimate, full-time professional just moved here and yes, I am a worthwhile customer for their bank. Luckily he understood and was helpful, but mark my words, I will be prepared next time!
And that is Week 1 of my UK Adventure. Tune in next week for more of....Susan's Stupid Moment of the Week!