Changing countries brings with it a set of cultural changes that sometimes have you shaking your head. The last few days it’s been over cheques (or checks if you prefer). To enable me to be paid directly into a bank account I needed to fill in a form – and provide them Payroll with a ‘voided check’. Never mind I can’t remember the last time I used a cheque, why do I need to provide them with something that gives the same information as on the form I’m filling in. At least I assume it does, I don’t actually have a bank account yet to compare. Apparently I’ll get lots of them though; I popped into a bank to get details of an account and the top benefit of the deal that they were trying to sell was apparently the large number of checks that I would get. How about debit cards and online banking (I need a credit rating for credit cards which will be a while)? No problem with those, she said, but most people seemed to want checks.
Confusion reigned at the company orientation this morning as myself and a Canadian tried to get our heads round 401k’s, health insurance, co-pays, deductions pre-tax and post-tax, elegibility etc. We both came to the conclusion that in some cases it would be easier (if not necessarily cheaper) to fly back to our respective countries of origin to get health care. Far less paperwork even if the US government decides to put everyone on the no-fly list and makes you get permission to leave.
One further bemusing thing today was wandering round supermarkets trying to stock up on some staples, or at least staples in the way I cook. Chicken stock cubes – no, need to get powdered chicken bouillon. Tinned tomatoes – well, there’s one type hidden amongst all the varieties of tomato ‘sauce’ (not the Heinz or Daddies type). Tuna – well there’s some hidden amongst the albacore. Finally shower gel – one variety only.