Paranoid Britain

In the interest of regaining my honesty I decided it's about time for a rant. I wish I could say that getting settled in the UK was an easy process, but it really wasn't (and isn't still!). For every little thing that I need to arrange to get my life set up I am thwarted by some ridiculous rule or check. It really makes me wonder how evil people were abusing the system so much that it became necessary to make people in my situation go through the process that I've been through. I might be complaining here about things that are perfectly normal to people who have been used to this all their lives.I hate pointing it out so many times, but I spent five years in Japan, and that really does give you a whole different perspective on things.

Before I came here I was looking forward to the ease of getting my life set up in the UK, because for once I'd actually be able to read all those pesky documents that are so important in life. Long story short: all of that stuff is worthless if nobody trusts each other. Britain is a society of complete anti-trust. I mentioned this before, but it's just absolutely ridiculous that it's not possible to get things delivered to a different address from the address that your bank has of you when you order online. No country I have ever been in has this ridiculous rule, and I would be very interested to hear if there's any other countries that do this.

Getting an apartment was fun too. It's a cut-throat business, getting a place in London. You have to be really quick to decide, otherwise someone else will snatch it away from under your nose. That's what I did to someone else, at least. And that's when the fun starts, because you'll have to provide references. It's not enough to prove that you have a job and a steady income, they also want to know where you worked previously, where you lived previously (regardless of which country that was) and they want the name of someone who can vouch for your character. The referral process now happens online, which is a very good thing, but I can't imagine what I'd have to go through were it not for the internet.

Paying online is also a lot of fun. Barclays pulled a nice one on me today. I was trying to make a deposit for the rent online, which was going really well up until after inserting the name and bank account info of the person I was transferring to. At that point, without any warning whatsoever, the website kindly told me that I did not in fact set up internet banking yet, and that I had to apply for some other service to actually transfer money to people. Thanks a lot Barclays. I was already annoyed at their sales technique which involves them trying to get me to buy every possible product they have, but this is even worse. It's just one great big scam, really. I want to have as little to do with them as possible.

The next anecdote, I will admit, is my own fault. I ordered something online, and once again tried to get it sent to a different address than was on the bank card that I was paying with. Should've known it would fail, but tried it anyway. And fail it did. I then tried to reorder the items on a different address, and then they were suddenly out of stock. Highly unlikely in my opinion. I bet they just kept the items marked as in stock even though they were out already. Another webshop did that as well, and freely admitted it to me over the phone today. Let that be a lesson: do not trust a shop if it their website says they have something in stock. They are evil evil people who lie to you to get your money.

From a programmer's perspective, I look at this society and think: "This should be optimized and refactored, because it could be a whole lot better than it is now ". Then I realize that, like software projects, that never really happens. You can't just throw away the ugly parts of a country and rewrite it into something better. The only thing you can do is gradually improve on it, step by step. But you'll never get rid of the ugliness unless you start over differently. Or move to a different country.

Some more lifetalk:

  • While walking to work a poor looking person approached me and asked me for money. I asked him why and he showed me his bloody arm and said that he just fell off his bicycle. I gave him some change. Later I heard that this might be a scam. Poor people, if I ever catch you doing this, then fuck you. Don't be evil. Just ask for money in a less scammy way.
  • There's a homeless guy in the tube station that I pass through on the way to work. He sits at the bottom of the stairs on a cardboard box. Many people pass him every morning on their way to work. Everybody ignores him, nobody makes eye contact. Today he was wearing a bright red Christmas hat. It was one of the saddest sights I have ever seen.
  • Found a Polish supermarket near my home, which is awesome. Lots of cheap tasty food. Polish people, you rule.
  • My apartment's heating did not work yesterday and it was extremely cold. Shower was cold too. Today the heating is on and for the first time ever my apartment actually feels warm after coming home from work.

Well, that's all I can think of for now. Perhaps next time I will post some long overdue photos of my autumn California adventure :)

Forget Norway.

Posted in Daily Life , Thoughts , UK