Tuesday, August 25, 2009

The briefest glimpse of pauperism

On a day of utmost frustration -- what's that, dear reader? You figured those days were behind us? -- I'll begin with an amusement. An oddity landed on my group's desk today, requiring someone who could speak French, of all things. Immediately, all head's turned to the Canadian, forcing me to throw up my hands and admit that, no, not all Canadians can speak even passable French.

This, of course, reminded me of my "Newfie French" story, which, incidentally, has received more than a few laughs over here -- poor sods. (For those of you who're tired of it, the next paragraph may be of more interest to you.) I grew up in Newfoundland, taking French as a subject all the way through grade school -- not immersion, mind you; that was much rarer in my day. When the family moved to New Brunswick, I was about to go into my last year of high school, and that summer I went to my future guidance counselor for advice on the subjects I should take. When we got to French classes -- and I'll paraphrase here for effect -- he said that my Newfie French wouldn't cut it in Canada's only officially bilingual province; now there was no malice in it, but he was firm. Incidentally, two of the courses I did take, Typing and Computer Science, helped me immeasurably in the coming years, and it was the former much more so than the latter, if you can believe it. (Although, to this day, I can't hear "Use your time wisely" without thinking of my CS teacher; Mr. Fraser, was his name, I believe.)

One final tangent -- yes, this could really be classified as a series of tangents -- I did test in the 95th percentile -- and you're better off asking Wikipedia what that means; I was rubbish at Stats too (I love writing that so much more than "sucked" or "crap") despite taking it long after my French lessons were done -- for the aptitude to learn languages a few years ago. Shows ya what those tests are worth. ;-)

And now, on to the frustration of the day. You may recall that we were worried about ensuring that there were sufficient funds in the proper account when the rent came due. Turns out we forgot a key point in the many briefings we got: that's supposed to be taken care of by the liaison office here, with an appropriate amount (read: cost of living over here accounted for) deducted from my salary before we ever see it over here. I say "supposed to" very deliberately, because we found out today that the standing order surrounding that transfer was never processed by Barclays. (Note that this is separate from the standing order to transfer the funds from our account to the landlord's account, which is all ready to fire at the end of the month, and a big part of the reason for our subsequent panic.)

Anyway, by the end of the day, we received the good news that the second standing order had been processed, but there were a good many hours in between where we were frantically writing our banker back in Canada about increasing our daily withdrawal limit, envisioning many trips for cash in the hopes of having enough in the Barclays account by the end of the week. (Remember: our massive cheques are still in electronic limbo right now, out of our Canadian account and firmly mired in this God forsaken 'negotiation' process they have over here.) Combined with our hotel booking problems -- try to book a hotel in London with a Canadian credit card and you'll be asked to produce identity documents or have the reservation cancelled -- this week has left me feeling at best, unwanted, and at worst... Well, I won't use the 'T' word, but you know what I mean. We are still literally worth nothing in this country, and it's just so upsetting. Especially when we find out today that a wire transfer -- which takes a week to set-up, and so was of no use regarding our rent problem -- would've had the funds in our Barclays account in no time (according to someone who's just recently come over and has had that experience).

I need a vacation. Luckily, one's on the horizon, and I'm hoping to treat you all to some blog posts on location. Stay tuned!


  1. Don't lose hope, they'll want you once you start spending that massive pay cheque. Right now you're in limbo - literally. Great reading, hope it was cathartic! You do need a vacation. :)

  2. You're not unwanted, your just Colonials!

    French immersion is over rated. Besides how do they expect someone to learn French underwater, zoot alor! Pensez-vous que vous parlez le "vrai" anglais? Je ne pense pas. LOL = MDR (Mort de rire)

    Liaison office and foreign service briefers. I Googled both terms and found out that there is a band called the Mental Midgets, go figure. But I suspect you already knew that. MDR ;-)