Ikea accidents and cultural norms.

Holland is officially having a rough go of it.

She sprained her ankle at IKEA this last weekend. She was jumping into the ball pit and twisted it somehow - jumping or landing, we'll never know. In fact we didn't even know when it happened, we just found out when we went to pick her up and they were like, "yea, she twisted her ankle and cried a bit - she's fine now. Have a nice day." I assumed that meant she was actually fine, but we quickly realized she couldn't walk and her foot was swollen and bruised. We took a cab home and Cal and I debated on the ride home whether it was national health care that produced a laid back approach to injury, or are the English just less litigious in general? Whatever the case, let this be my introduction to something I've noticed since we got here.

Come, sit by me in the garden whilst I complain.

(I was going to include this as just a note to my observation list, but I feel myself getting long winded and rant -y just thinking about it. Must indulge myself. Also, it's not like we're going anywhere with wobbly limp girl.)

"Lack of urgency." This is what I've officially labeled this attitude in my mindverse. Cal has probably grown tired of my wondering out loud about what it is that causes it, and also why it often results in less effective protocol and/or procedure. (Or I guess to be fair, what I consider lacking in efficiency.) For example, Cal has been working for a month already and they still have not given him his work laptop that was ordered his first week. "It's around here somewhere." He also ordered a white board for his office, which took two weeks to be delivered. When it arrived it was dropped off on the floor by his desk, and when he asked for it to be mounted on the wall, he was told he would have to put in a request for that service. So he did. 10 working days later, someone came to hang the board but stopped short when it was discovered the required stud was not part of the designated wall, so Cal asked that it be hung on the opposite wall. "Yes, but you'll need a separate ticket for that. I'll cancel this one and you can create a new ticket to have the cabinets removed and once that's done you can request that the board be hung again." I told Cal I could just come by with a hammer (and my 3 kids) and fix it for him after lunch, if he actually wants to hang it anytime in the next 3 months. It's not like he works for one of the largest banks in the world or anything.

There are certain processes that I expect to be able to complete within a day, given good time management, and a bit of planning beforehand. (Like hanging a white board.) On an average business day in the states, I could open a bank account - checking and savings, get an updated DL (not the initial driver's license), call and schedule start of all household utilities, get a cell phone plan, eat fries and milkshakes - twice, and visit the local school district to sign my kids up for school. I would also expect that on another given day, I could look at several rental properties and at the very best, I could have something signed within 24 hours, 3 days at the most. I feel like 5 business days is what you would need to establish a new household presence. I see these things as fairly straightforward experiences.

I feel as if here in the UK, these things take days to even get the correct person to acknowledge your intention to proceed. Circular, might be the word. You can't get a bank account without an address, you can't get an address without a UK bank account. You can't apply for school until you have a UK address, but address doesn't guarantee you a spot in the school where you live. When you finally get the UK debit card, you can't activate it online because you need a PIN that you can only get on your phone, a phone which has terrible reception and hardly any minutes because you can't get a monthly plan without your UK bank account. (You should never mention the differences between a US bank account and a UK bank account to the customer service employee of the UK bank account, or you will get a severe scolding from a French woman.) This is what I've experienced so far, and all along the way, there is the casual engagement with service providers that think getting back to you in 3-4 days is timely. Hopefully you can feel the dizziness of the errand-go-round with me. And perhaps it's just that I don't know how to proceed or that my consumer instincts are built for an American system. I do know that there is definitely a glorification of "busy" in the United States. We rush and hustle and that's what we consider the standard of a productive day or person. However, it also means getting things done ASAP, which is a phrase that I think is lost in translation. 

Here's what I do know:

Bank account (at the bank where my husband is employed, no less) - 2 weeks to open. 5 days to get our money transferred from the US. Still awaiting savings account and checks.

Mobile phone - got a sim card that provides very CRAPPY service in a day. We can now (with our new UK bank account) fill out paperwork to get monthly service - paperwork that seems like it will vanish into customer service black hole.

DL - there is no way in hell I'm going to try to get my license right now. I feel like I'm going to DIE when I'm just riding in vehicles. Not only is it busier than NYC, it's the other side of the vehicle, different signage, congestion charge zones, and the test is reportedly very difficult. I don't even want to know what the process is...... Cal thinks I am being wimpy. (I think he doesn't acknowledge my lack of wimpery in the rest of my life.)

Lease/Long term let for a rental property - 4 weeks. Still have to complete check in inventory upon move in in 2.5 weeks. I cannot set up utilities until the check in is complete. (And there is a 3rd party involved to make sure the readings are taken to ensure we are charged correctly.)

School Application - I can send in the application with the rental address now that the lease is signed. The local authority does not anticipate getting back to me until after the first day of school in 3 weeks. Kids will most likely not attend the first week.

Also, Council Tax. We get to pay council tax. And I'm too tired of listening to my whiny typing to explain it to you. What's even more confusing to me, is that we have people holding our hand as we try to do all of this! Between the relocation people and the school consultant, you would think we would breeze through this stuff.

Anyway, the moral of the story is, if you want something done, wait.

We'll get back to you shortly.


Mendy Waits5 Comments