Not that I’ve heard anyone utter that phrase, but I figured “bloody hell” might not be appropriate in a blog title.
Culture shock is a thing. Oddly enough, I didn’t experience it much during my first few weeks, but perhaps that’s because I’m used to being a tourist. Now that I’ve been in a foreign country for the longest span in my adult life (that’ll be two full months on Thursday), I’m forced to deal with the minutia of a different country.
Nothing shocking about that — except the shock and awe!
Sure, it’s weird being told I have an accent. And the food and beer might be different. But those things can be charming (and delicious!).
What’s less fun is the snail’s pace at which capitalism operates here. I mean, this is an island nation that could fit inside Texas and it gets the same degree of cellphone coverage as west Texas.
Feel free to make your arguments about which side of the road is technically the “right” side, or how many words the letter “u” needs to be present in, or whether or not cheese is a dessert or an appetizer — BUT — one thing is for certain. USA reigns supreme when it comes to taking your money.
Here’s what I mean:
We found a place to live. Great! How soon can we move in?
Well, let’s see, today is the 6th of December. It’ll take a few days to draw up the application, run the proper checks and whatnot. But no one really wants to clean carpets or touch up paint over Christmas, so…
We’re living in a hotel with our dog and cat. They can paint with us in there. Seriously, how soon?
Well, if you’re in a hurry we can really speed things up and get you in on the 7th of January!
A rental agency in the US would get you in your house in a week, tops. Or, how’s this one:
Hi, Toyota dealership! We saw a car on your website that we’d like to buy. Let’s make it happen!
Well, I’ll have to check if that’s on the lot. Let me ask you some questions about the kind of car you want to buy.
Umm, this one. Here, look on my phone.
Well, I told you, I’d need to see if that’s here.
Can you…go do that, then?
Well, yes, but only if I can finish my questionnaire first.
(later) Brilliant! We have the car.
Great! We’ll take it. Here’s a loan approval letter from a UK bank.
How does next week sound?
For buying the car.
We don’t own a car yet, I was hoping for sooner.
Well, then, how does *early* next week sound?
Yeah. The US would have you drive the car off the lot and the salesman would be treated to a steak dinner that very night.
Hi, I’m currently on a month-to-month plan for mobile phone service and I’d like to set up a yearly contract.
Well, you’d need a UK billing address first.
Okay, I’ll set that up. How about now?
Well, you need a UK credit card.
I use my US card for the month-to-month…
Right. That doesn’t matter. You need a UK card for this.
Okay, can I get a UK credit card?
No. You have no credit history in the UK. In fact, you’ll need to sign for all your purchases every time you use a US credit card (but no one else has to do that so don’t expect anyone to have a pen or even know what’s happening!) and if you go to Costco, be prepared to bring a suitcase full of money.
Okay, I guess I’ll just keep paying month-to-month like a drug dealer. Thanks!
If you think a US phone company would let you out of their doors without a phone contract, internet, and cable TV, then you’ve never seen true capitalism at work.
The reason I’m writing (whining) about this is twofold. One, I just finally got internet!
Hi, I’d like to give you money. i can haz nternets, plz?
You’re in luck! We’ll get you set up in two weeks!
And two, because all my stuff we shipped from the US on November 14th still isn’t here yet. Well, that’s not entirely true. My household goods are in this country, I’m told, but customs isn’t ready to release them to us yet. Instead I get to answer questions like, “Does the pancake mix listed on your inventory contain dried eggs or dairy?”
Here’s an email I received yesterday, verbatim:
Customs have come back to us and they have asked: All seeds- Are these for planting or eating?
Hello, The seeds are excess gardening (planting seeds). There are not very many and I’m not even sure we’d use them. But we’d be willing to eat, plant, or burn them if we can get our household goods faster! Thanks for your help.
And that was literally my response, which probably means I have another month before I’m neck-deep in cardboard.
Okay, that’s it. Rant over. And yes, I realize I’m complaining about a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that parallel-universe me would kill this-universe me for.
But that’s what blogging’s for, right? Thanks for letting me vent. Now to end it on a positive. If there’s one area that the UK crushes the US on, it’s the prevalence of puns. They’re everywhere. This was on my neighborhood walk:
Thanks for reading! What do YOU think? Feel my pain? Or am I a spoiled American?
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