I believe I heard before we arrived, but certainly since, the term “getting UKed.” This could mean several things, one being the process of acclimating to a new place, getting used to a different culture, a new climate, new words, different money. I heard one funny example the other day, from a woman who was expecting her daughter and grandson to come for a visit, and was looking all over town for diapers. Every store she asked stated they did not carry diapers, and E. was getting very frustrated, and wondering what the English do with their babes. Finally, she saw an advert for a “nappy stacker” and discoverd that she had been asking the wrong question. She tootled down to the store, purchased the nappy’s and had them delivered. Problem solved.
I am fortunate to have an English brother-in-law, so many of the different words/terms are familiar to me: lift, boot, bonnet, nappy chips, crisps, bisquits and so on. Some are new, and should not be mentioned here. But what I was not prepared for, and what some mean by ‘getting UKed’ is how difficult it is to get things done.
On our first day, Brad’s new boss warned us that nothing gets done in one visit. He told us that at least a third of his time is taken up with just figuring out how to live here. I was stunned, but so far, he’s been dead on.
Case in point: Obviously, England has a different money system than the US, hence, one needs to convert dollars to pounds. If one is going to live here, a bank account is in order, yes? Okay, stay with me here. To open a bank account, you need an address. To get an address, you have to either buy a house, (which takes an unbelievable amount of time and a loan from a bank) or let (rent) one. To pay for the deposit, rent and so forth, you need a bank account to draw the pounds from. But to open the bank acount……….
See the issue? We were finally, after two visits, two and half hours and one phone call, able to open a local bank account, with our passports, and proof of residency in America, (estimation of monthly income, estimation of monthly expenses….Iwas waiting for blood type and favorite color) but now we’re struggling with getting the dollars into pounds (at a fair exchange rate) and then into that account. Oh, and the account they were able to open for us could not be opened jointly, so I still have no access.
Next on the priority list is buying a car. We found one we like, asked how to purchase it and were told, no checks (understandable) no credit cards. We could finance (yeah, right) use debit card or cash. Of course, again, the money needed to be in pounds, from a local bank, and the debit cards here all have a microchip along with the PIN, and of course, the debit card will not be here for several more days.
What say we rent a car? Brad called a local place to hire a car, was told to bring along a passport and drivers license and we’d be good, they could provide insurance. So off we go on the train, GPS in hand, and find the car hire place. The guy starts sorting out the paperwork, realizes Brad is in the US military (as opposed to Canadian or British, I suppose) and makes a phone call. No, we are told, we cannot insure you. No insurance, no car. A call to our insurance company reveals that we are not covered abroad, but they can insure the rental car if we provide the make, model and VIN for said car. Of course when Brad calls the agency back, the car has been given to someone else and what’s left is a Jaguar at twice the cost.
Let’s move on to TV and internet, shall we? Last night we dashed off to the mall (three tube stations away) to get Brad a tie. The mall closes at something like 5 so we were in a hurry. Come to find out, the mall is open til 8 on Thursday (closes early Friday and Saturday though, go figure). After we secured the tie, we wandered around the mall some. I went to the bookstore, and Brad stopped to talk to the TV guys. They will install the digital TV box for free (HD and all that stuff). 5 days later, they will hook up your phone line, and 5 days after that, your broadband. Not all at once. Nope. Because of the “cooling off period” they want to make sure you are going to keep the TV service before you can have the phone, and the phone before to can have broadband.
Nothing gets done in one visit.
Now, before somebody jumps all over me let me be clear. I am sure there are very good reasons for these precautions and bits of red tape, and while they are frustrating for us, as newcomers, I realize it’s not wrong just different. Most of the banking issues can be credited to terrorists and those who would launder money. Understandably, a car hire business must protect their assets. Don’t quite get the TV thing, but I’m sure there must be some logical reason for that as well. It’s all a matter of adjustment, to be sure.
And now, I need to move to a different room. Seems this room was promised to a couple newlyweds for the weekend.