There is an art to moving belongings and people and pets thousands of miles away from home. People who have moved a lot talk about it with that mixture of know-how, their voice becoming matter-of-fact and comforting all at the same time as they share their memories, hand out advice, and throw in a few travel mishaps to insure that your game day shorts aren’t on too tight.
I’m glad I listened and grateful to expect that everything would be smaller—bathrooms, bedrooms, refrigerators, washing machines, dryers, cars, streets (think no room for street parking, but they do it anyway, turning every street into a life sized pinball game), newspapers, sinks and even the “take out” forks.
I also heard that they are not big on customer service. I have yet to meet anyone overly concerned with answering the phone, and it usually takes a few tries to get someone on the line. Then, I can usually count on the person I need to speak with to be on “holiday” or simply “out” until the next day or next week. Nearly everything shuts down for lunch for at least an hour, except the places that actually serve lunch, so don’t count on popping in the library, a store or the post office between about noon and 1:30 pm, in some cases 2.
There is an upside to all of this–they take time off work seriously here. Maybe with 5 weeks of vacation and a half day every Friday, we will, too. It is evident that people here work to live, not live to work. The front of the phone books are full of information on what to do with “leisure time”, and they have “leisure centers” complete with a pool in nearly every village. Acquaintances have brought us travel brochures and maps by way of introduction. My husband informed me today that the entire plant will be off for the first two weeks of August, including him. Seriously. He doesn’t even have a key so he couldn’t go in if he wanted to. And, apparently that’s not all of his vacation time, he might have to take a couple of weeks around Christmas.
I am beginning to wonder if we’ve fallen down a rabbit hole. I hope not.