Archive for January, 2011

So I’m sitting in a bar in London waiting for my limo to take me to the airport and I can’t help but notice the bar staff.   It was a slow night so  I start talking to them by asking them where they are all from because most of them have accents when they speak and I thought it odd for a single bar to have so many different people from Europe.   Girl #1 is from somewhere near Milan, Italy; Girl #2 is from Poland; Girl #3 is from Ukraine; Bartender is from Italy.

I ask them why they’re all in London and they respond the same: to earn a living.   Evidently things are bad in Italy, Ukraine, Poland and almost anywhere east of checkpoint Charlie.   The bartender starts telling me that he came to the UK to go to the university to get an advanced degree.   He complained about paying the school fifteen thousand pounds ($23k USD) and not being able to find a job.    He tells me he things UK universities are a scam, conning people from around Europe with the promise of great education and perhaps high paying job but what the University neglects to say is that if you don’t speak near perfect British English, you’ll be looked down upon in interview after interview.    He earned a Masters Degree in Logistics hoping to work in the shipping industry but the market was dead and now he was bar tending.

“If you sound like people from east London, you’ll stay in east London,” he says sardonically.   I felt so much sympathy for these people and they asked me how things were in America.    “About the same,” I told him thinking if indeed that was the case and wondered how many American bartenders had Masters degrees or how many would have too much pride and simply stay home collecting unemployment checks.

I ask the cute Italian girl if she has another job and she retorts, “no, the more you work the more they tax you here, it’s not worth it to have another job.”  I found a strange comfort in that statement because the more I earn, the more I get penalized with higher taxes  (more on that in a future post).

I only talked to these guys for about 35 minutes then my car arrived.  I got up and checked my wallet to leave a generous tip but all I had were three Franklins and three one hundred pound notes.  I look at the tab and it reads, “Included is a 12.5%  gratuity in this bill.”   I check my pockets and quickly realize I have a ton of coins in a variety of lots: 2 pound, 1 pound, xx pence.  I take them all in my hand and plunk them down on the table.  God I hate coins and pocket change!

“I wish you the best in all of your hopes and dreams guys, farewell.”   They all smile and bid me farewell and move about their business serving new customers as they come in for the evening.

A staple of my diet has been Costco Kirkland’s Turkey Burgers but I can’t find them at Costco anymore.   I asked a rep at the store and he said that they didn’t carry them anymore!   So Costco stops selling Apple products and now they stopped selling Kirkland turkey burgers, I’m starting to get disappointed.

In other news, I continue to be amazed at the cost of meat products.   Beef is costing more and more every time I go to the grocery store and it’s bad enough I pay $30/lb for Kobe beef but to pay $8/lb for almost everything else is pretty ridiculous!

In other news, I’m starting to buy groceries online from Amazon.com.   I started out with a four boxes of cereal to be delivered to my home every other month and I’ll see how that goes for a few months.   I don’t think I’ll save too much money buying online vs. the grocery stores but the extra benefits add up such as:

a. I won’t have to drive to the grocery store to buy cereal for the kids which means I save on gasoline as I get free delivery.  I also don’t pay sales tax!

b. I will save time by not having to waste time driving to the store and waiting at the check out.

c. If this works well, I may begin to expand to canned goods to save on more gasoline and time.

The world is indeed becoming more efficient and I think online grocery shopping is the wave of the future.    I’m waiting for a “grocery app” to bring it all together and voila!