Menu Close

Life is good (plus a few random notes)

Well, the car is parked in driveway, the wife and the kids are sleeping in their new beds – the new chapter in our life has officially commenced. And life is pretty damn good, at the moment (no little thanks to a bottle of nice Cotes-du-Rhone)…

For such an exciting day, the components of it were clearly less than exciting. The flight arrived late, the drive home took almost 3 hours (there was one 3-mile stretch that we negotiated in about 1:45, barely moving bumper-to-bumper), I am going through a slight case of buyer’s remorse (I really liked my FX35, and I can’t help but compare my new tin can to it), and the first trip to supermarket was quite a downer (they sell Budweiser and Miller Lite, but no Hacker-Pschorr or Franziskaner!?!?).

But Natasha found a silver lining in the traffic, invoking the memory of her arrival in the States many years ago. We were riding in Rafa’s Isuzu from JFK, and got into huge bumper-to-bumper slowdown on Belt Parkway. Obvious parallels there, even the starter-level leave-much-to-be-desired cars (sorry, Rafka 🙂 ). And look how well the American portion of our lives turned out! The good omen, if there was one!

Later on, Natasha was her usual unbelievable self in treating the family to a dinner, which I sorely missed on my “bachelor” hiatus. Coupled with the aforementioned bottle of wine, it was finally an evening to my heart’s content.

As I really do not have much to say of note in my fittingly delirious state, just a few random observations that I wanted to pass on to my faithful audience.

For instance. At 5:30pm, most customer service toll-free lines in UK close down, with an automated message advising callers to try again “during normal business hours”. The incredible thing is, the service representatives continue to work until 6:30, they call you themselves, you can email them directly… you just cannot reach them over the phone. It is surely due to some unknown to me law (one rep did mention straight out that “we are not supposed to pick up the phone after 5:30”), and one of the most ridiculous practices I have ever encountered, on par with consumer-service businesses being closed on Sunday.

I have yet to hear of a customer service that offers a 24×7 support. I do not believe the concept exists here at all.

Totally unrelated, while blatant and unapologetic smoking continues to rub me the wrong way, it is gradually ceding its place to another unpleasant phenomenon. I hear tons of people on the trains and on the streets who accentuate their conversations with obscenities. Of course, in New York and everywhere, you hear an occasional F-word and more than occasional S-word, but I cannot recall so many people loudly dropping those bombs every few words or so in an otherwise good-natured conversation. With little kids around. Sometimes, their own. The dunces who do that are invariably fairly young, so this must be some sort of cultural shift, for which I am truly rather old…

Totally random: Motorcyclists on the road almost all wear bright orange or green vests, with sewn-in light reflectors. They also weave in and around traffic all the time and let you know with their horns in you are blocking their way by crawling along too close to the neighboring traffic lane…

And on that random note, I bid you a good night.

Posted in Chronicles, Customerography, Expat Archive