Friday, 4 April 2008
Week 2: Parking, Locks, and Petrol Tanks
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...