Sunday, 30 March 2008

Week 1: Trolleys & Raining Buckets

So, I've settled into my new home here in Chester, UK for a grand total of 3-1/2 days now. These have been an action packed 3-1/2 days of self-discovery and amazement.

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!