Monday, December 31, 2007

100% American. For now.

Well, I've finally completed my transition to being a complete American. Yesterday I drove to the supermarket (no, the facts that it was raining and that I'm fighting a cold and that I had to buy a 10 lb bag of flour do not count. I drove. Period). I realized as I was driving to the store that that I am now back to being an American.

Time to start traveling again.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Why Brits don't travel...

Wrong country' sat-nav blunder
Sat-nav unit
The driver programmed the wrong Lille into the navigation system

Shoppers on a Christmas trip to France were taken to the wrong country after a satellite navigation blunder diverted their coach seven hours off course.

Instead of arriving in Lille, France, 50 members of Cheltenham and Gloucester (C&G) Social Club were taken 98 miles (157km) away to Lille, Belgium.

When they finally arrived, they had two hours to shop before the stores closed.

The detour happened during a weekend coach trip from Gloucester to Ostend, Belgium, costing staff £150.

Tim Knight, manager of Travelscope, the company which arranged the trip, said: "Part of the weekend trip was an afternoon shopping in Lille.

"Unfortunately the driver from the coach company we commissioned made a blunder on his satellite navigation."

On the trip back to their hotel, the coach driver unplugged the navigation system and, with the help of a passenger and an atlas, made it back to Ostend.

C&G spokeswoman Melinda Russell, said: "We're very sorry that our staff and their families have been let down, especially as we have enjoyed so many successful trips through the course of the year.

"Unfortunately, even the best laid plans can go awry, especially when relying on sat-nav."

(From BBC news)

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Seasonal Retail

My friend, Auntie Em, asked me a while back what my co-workers at the well-known department store where I am conducting my holiday work/observations were like. My response was to recount something which had happened to me at work. She enjoyed the story so much that she suggested I post it on my 'blog.

Last week, I went to the break room to eat my lunch. There were three other employees there, eating their lunches and watching the local news on TV. I was starving (as usual), so most of my attention was focused on my food, but I was still aware of what was being reported on the news. One of the stories was of a dog that had, apparently, started a fire. A woman had been frying fish on her stove when she stepped out of her house to take the trash out. The dog had shut the door behind her, locking her out, and the unattended frying fish had started a grease fire. One of the department store employees wondered aloud if the insurance company would cover the fire. I, recognizing a set-up that a hundred comedians locked in a hundred comedy clubs for a hundred years would never be so lucky to get, made the obvious comment. I turned to the other women and said (come on now, say it with me. You know you want to), "I don't think insurance companies cover acts of dog." Instead of getting at least a groan, the other women turned to look at me like I had grown a third head.

Tough audience, apparently.

My other story illustrates perfectly the Christmas spirit. Well, the Christmas spirit as interpreted by Jerry Springer. A woman was shopping with her husband and mother-in-law, and she stopped to look at the expensive purse section (purses over $200). She spent quite a bit of time admiring one particular purse (perhaps with the hope that her husband would return to buy it for her). Anyway, the shopping party moved on. A while later, the mother-in-law returned and requested to see the same exact purse that her daughter-in-law was looking at. The woman looked the purse over for a few seconds, then decided to purchase it. Not for her daughter-in-law, but for herself. I bet holidays with that family are a laugh a minute.

My final story is actually kinda sweet and fits under the good men might actually exist category. I was working yesterday when I man came in to return a purse that he had bought for his wife. He said that he had thought he managed to fit all her specifications, but that the purse was still not quite right. He told me about how he had searched for the right purse for two weeks--and did I know how hard it was to find the right purse? (Uh, that's pretty much the same conversation I have with every woman who wanders into the purse department.) Anyway, he said, he had gotten to the point where he was looking at ladies handbags. I told him that if he saw one he liked, he ought to ask the woman where she had found it. He looked at me, eyes wide, and said, "Oh no. I'm never doing that again." Turns out he had seen a woman with the perfect purse and had asked her where she had bought it. The woman turned up her nose and looked down at him to huff that it was a Coach. Anyway, it is kinda gratifying to know that at least one man in the world has had a glimpse of the perils of purse shopping.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Seasonal Work

Well, I made it through the group interview (heaven only knows how. They must have been really desperate for seasonal workers) and I start my new job in a well-known department store today. I will be selling purses (and anyone who knows me and purses has to be raising their eyebrows in disbelief at this piece of news. See, I HATE shopping for purses. I put it off and put it off, waiting until my current purse has completely disintegrated, and then I slouch toward the store and, ill-tempered, I sift through racks of over-priced, poorly-made, and ugly as sin purses. In fact, it wasn't until about three years ago that I learned 1. Other women LOVE purses and 2. It is completely normal for most women to own more than one purse at a time. Odd, I know).

Yeah. The good news is that I won't be tempted to buy anything.

Sighisoara, Romania

Sighisoara, Romania--birthplace of Vlad the impaler (Dracula). Actually, Vlad's birthplace was rather modest (I had been expecting a dark castle isolated atop a mountain somewhere). Instead, he was born in a house in the centre of the village (and catty-corner to a church, coincidently). Anyway, as cliched as it all is, the birthplace of Vlad the impaler was the perfect first stop for me. Having just come from Istanbul, I could more than relate to the desire to impale Turkish men...