I’m now truly starting to appreciate and understand the English way of doing things. Through five years of visits I never really had the time or the history to understand why things are done the way they are. Even though Americans and Brits can say they are cousins, they both have entirely different cultures.
Neither one is right or wrong, it is just the way their society has developed. It took me almost two months to quit trying to explain myself. I think the worst thing I did was constantly start my reasoning by saying, “In America, we did this.” No one in England gives a crap how it is done in America. I’m not in America, so how “they” do it doesn’t matter. What is that old saying, “When in Rome...”?
Now that I’m beginning to leave America in the rear view mirror, I am beginning to really feel part of this country. There is a “can do” attitude that nothing is impossible. The work ethic is amazing and what I really have found refreshing is that there isn’t any back stabbing. Management is professional and never talk bad about any other manager and they don’t engage in any type of conversation that is negative in anyway. I’m not used to that.
What has been so refreshing is watching the next generation, youngsters in their 20s and 30s that are hard working and are doing everything in their power to provide for themselves and sometimes for their families as well.
It has also been an awakening to see that companies get more production out of their workers while not working as many hours. The last job I had in America was an eight hour workday, with two 15 minutes breaks and a half-hour lunch. I say an eight hour workday because the day is actually eight and a half hours because of the half-hour lunch.
In England, an eight hour day is an eight hour day. A half-hour lunch and a half-hour break. The way it works is you get a half-hour break every two and a half hours you work and are deducted the half-hour for lunch. So an eight hour day actually involves seven hours of actual work.
Ten hour days, which is what I am now working, means a break at two and a half hours and then a break every two hours after that. All breaks are a half-hour. So my ten hour day is actually just eight and a half hours.
I continue to learn more about England and their way of life, which involves the way they work. The one thing that both countries do is work. Both countries have people that work, to pay bills, to keep the lights on, and to pay a mortgage or rent. The basic things about life are the same. We work for money.
Speaking of money, it has been a challenge for me to get use to a new currency and new words for that currency. The dollar is dead. The pound lives. While both countries have a penny things change quickly. Cents are pence and dollars are pounds. A buck is a quid… and even bucks are a quid. 20 bucks is never 20 quids. Its just 20 quid. And a five dollar bill is a five pound note. There isn’t any one pound note… just coins. And the Brits have a load of coins. There is the penny, then a two pence (2p) which is equal to two pennies. A 5p, 10p, 20p, 50p, then a one pound coin and a two pound coin.
Funny story, I recently started a bank account here. One for myself and one as a joint account for my wife and myself. Well, I got through everything just fine until the final transaction. I wanted to transfer money from one account to the other. I looked at the teller and said, “Now I’d like to put 200 dollars into this account.” She looked at me and giggled. I quickly realized what I said and came back with, “Whoops, this American is still learning! I’d like to put 200 pounds into this account.”