As a sequel to the Visa Vistas post, here are some more words of wisdom concerning moving to a new country. At least one where rules apply. The first thing you’ll want to do is get a phone. Reasonable enough, right? Being that this is not America, land of the one-stop-shop, if you want a phone, you go to the phone store. Walk in. They ignore you. Again, you’re not in America, land of consumerism. You wander around for a while and finally say hi to someone who appears to work there. They look at you baffled when, in response to their question, ‘how can I help you?’ you respond, ‘I need a phone’. Maybe it’s the *foreign* accent, or maybe it’s just because who in their right mind would buy a phone in a shop and not online, but it seems like this is the weirdest request they’ve gotten all day. (Later I find out that most people actually just buy SIMs but we’ll get to that.) After going through what kind of phone do you want and what kind of plan, they ask your bank account details. What part of I just moved here five seconds ago and therefore need a new phone did you not understand? – You don’t say this, just loudly think it. ‘I don’t have a bank account yet.’
You leave with phone brochures in your little cold hands and wander aimlessly until you stumble into the bank (sans your working iPhone’s GPS telling you which way to go everything is nearly impossible). Again, ‘can I help you?’ ‘I need to open a bank account.’ Somewhat less bewildered look from the teller so it’s not just the accent. Except when they ask you for proof of address, like a bill. Don’t they know that no one in London pays their own bills because they live in other people’s houses’ cupboards under the stairs.
Since the other option, waiting for the Queen’s Palace or whatever to send your national insurance number, is going to take too long, you give up and wander to work. Work tells you they can’t pay you until you have a bank account. You see where this is going.
So speaking of cycles, there are happy endings to these turning tales. Not only do I get my new phone next week through the Co-operative bank to which I am now a member, I am also getting a tax-free, financed bicycle through the cycle to work program. The lesson is to always persistently follow the breadcrumbs back out of the maze.