This is why we can’t have nice things

Interesting weekend.

brel

Pros:
– Went out to lunch at Brel for a pot of mussels and a glass of wine.
– Had a wee pub crawl around the cute West End pubs while it snowed outside.
– Met up with some friends afterwards for the Scotland v Wales match.

Cons:
– Lost my camera lens cap.
– Lost one of my J.Crew leather gloves.
– Lost my dignity.

Combine that with the fact that I lost my favorite purple glasses on the flight back to Glasgow and I am starting to feel like I shouldn’t be allowed anything nice! I would usually leave my expensive camera at home if I was going out drinking, but we hadn’t planned to stay out beyond lunch. I actually think I lost the lens cap on the walk home when I took the camera out to take a million pictures of the freshly fallen snow. Upon second viewing, so not worth it! They’re all orangey and out of focus. I’m not sure what happened to my glove but it’s not shown up at any of the pubs we were at so I must have lost that outside as well. I need to start wearing Primark when I go out drinking, I’m a hopeless case.

Not worth the £5 for a replacement cap.

Not worth the £5 for a replacement cap.

The day out was a celebration for my entry back into the working world. I start back on April 2 and funnily enough, I start back at my old job. Yep, same company and same position as the contract that ended in December. My old VP saw my CV floating around the internal job bank and because of a few people leaving and a shift of workload, they need me again! Strange how the world works. Looking forward to my next week of freedom from a job and job hunting.

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Self Service Medicine

Had to go to the doctor’s today to get my “bloods” drawn. Sounds more vampire-like than medicinal but it was quick and painless.

I only had to wait about 5 minutes for my appointment but spent it thinking about my experience with the NHS so far. Overall I love it (or like it a lot, suppose it’s a little weird to love a healthcare system). It’s a good system and I think it’s better than the situation in the States.

Having said that, I cannot get over handling my own bodily fluids in the NHS! In the States a nurse will take your blood and whisk it away to the lab. Today I had to walk my own samples down to the receptionist and hand them in. Now, I’m not squeamish and can handle blood but I find it quite strange to be involved in the process of getting my samples to the lab. The technician’s office is located upstairs and the receptionist downstairs but surely she can walk all the samples down at the end of her day?

Either way it doesn’t bother me that much, just a UK/US difference that I’ve noticed over the years. The one that really gets me? Taking charge of your urine sample. Oh yes. Your pee in a cup and you’re in charge.

Registering with a new GP requires a urine sample at the end of the new patient check-up. So far, normal. I’ve been to three different medical practices in the UK as you register based on your address and I’ve lived in three different areas. But this is worse than blood samples. With urine, you’re sent home after your initial check-up with a plastic vial and told to bring it back fresh. Yes, I’ve been wandering around Glasgow with my own pee in a cup three different times. One of my old colleagues had to take a sample in, forgot about it, left it in his car for a day and was faced with dumping it out and trying it again the next day. GROSS.

Why didn’t I just pee at the office? The strange thing is that they don’t seem to encourage this. They hand you the cup and usher you out of the building, no mention of the toilets down the hall or suggestion of waiting around to finish. From affirmations from Danny and as evidenced by my colleague’s predicament, this is just how it’s done. Well, I’m not taking it. I won’t chalk this one up to cultural differences. If we move again I’m drinking a litre of water before my new patient check-up and not leaving the office until I’m sure that I won’t have to be as “hands-on” with my care as the NHS asks of me.

Life in the UK – I know it

I passed my Life in the UK test today after a stressful morning waiting for my taxi. I called and ordered one around 8:30 and requested a 9:00 pick-up time as the testing centre is only 5 minutes away. The UKBA website says to arrive at least 15 minutes before your test and they close the doors 5 minutes before test time. Once you’ve missed the test, you need to rebook and repay the fee. My test time was 9:30 and I got there at 9:25. They closed the doors behind me!

I had to get cash to pay the taxi so I left the flat at 8:50 and walked across the road to the cash machine and then waited outside my building. And then I waited. At 9:10 a taxi stopped at the building next to mine and I ran over thinking they had got the address wrong. Nope, not mine.When my taxi finally arrived I jumped in and we hit all red lights on the way there and further construction traffic that I didn’t know about.

When we arrived at the testing centre I gave the guy a tenner for my £3 fare but he didn’t have any change! I told him to just give me a fiver but he didn’t have that either. I told him to keep the £10 as 10 pounds is a lot less than a £50 booking fee. He protested that it was too much but I was halfway out the door by then. I was not going to miss this test!

After all that rushing, once I checked in and sat down at my computer we all had to wait for a supervisor to come over and check our documents. Now, I’ve been through airport security, in a American citizenship/visa center, employed by a big finance corporation, applied for a marriage license and I have never had someone look over my passport photo and compare it to me so meticulously. They study everyone for at least 7 seconds. That doesn’t sound like much, but when most places only give it a cursory glance it feels like a long time. They even asked the girl next to me to take off her glasses. After verifying the photo they verify your name, date and place of birth and address against a utility bill/bank statement/council tax bill. They also verify that you’re using the same ID that you used to register. Like, if you registered with your passport you need to bring your passport not driver’s license for ID on the day of the test. The supervisor is inputting this all into the computer for you so if your ID doesn’t match, they kick you out and you’re disqualified, free to rebook and get it right on the second try. That happened to two people who tried to argue their way out of it but it obviously didn’t work. The home office does not mess around. This is why I was freaking out about being late.

Once I finished the practice test and went on to the official test it only took me 2 minutes to finish. All that studying for nothing! Well not really. The test is deceptively simple. Some questions are super easy.

The 14th February is:

A Valentine’s Day

B Guy Fawke’s Night

C Hogmanay

D Halloween

Which statement is correct?

A The prime minister lives at Buckingham Palace

B The prime minister lives at 10 Downing Street.

Then you get the questions that reference statistics from the 2001 census that you’d probably only know if you memorized straight from the study guide.

The percentage of people in the UK who said they were Muslims is:

A 1.6% B 2.7% C 3.4%  D 4.2%

The number of children or young people in the UK is:

A 13 million B 14 million C 15 million D 16 million.

Obviously guessing is a possibility but I was raised in the AP world where multiple choice exams were designed to trick and deceive and I was not taking that chance.

Danny and I both took a practice test last night and passed only having missed 4 questions each. Of course he missed the history questions and I missed the statistics questions because I am horrible at remembering numbers (embarrassing admission – I’ve had my current phone number for over a year and do not yet have it memorized).

But I passed today and that’s what matters. Just to brag (because it’s been 4 years since I graduated college and sometimes I miss the good grades high) but I think I passed with 100%. They don’t reveal your score, but that’s what I’m going with and there’s no one to tell me otherwise!