Saturday, December 18, 2004

Life is a b#tch... but not in Belgium

Looking forward to a busy weekend – only minimum amount of knitting to be expected. Maybe some more of Santa’s little helpers (or their caps to be precise). In the meantime, just some reflections of the funny or bizarre things which have taken place lately.

The health and safety department of my working place submitted a query concerning the working conditions in our offices. How big is one’s cubicle, what sort of floor materials have been used, are we happy with the temperature, do we suffer from noise, and then: what sort of chair do you have? Option a) Classic model. Classic model?! To me that’s just a fancy way of describing ancient pieces of office furniture where adjusting is impossible. And what about the other options? b) Medical chair. c) Unit head chair. Well, I had to go for the classic model there. Same with the desk. Classic indeed.

Funny that they did ask what pieces of electric appliances there were in the office but if there weren’t any, there was no possibility of telling them how far they were situated. For instance, I don’t have a printer in my office. The printer, scanner and copying machine are 110 brisk walking steps away. And I tell you, you don’t want to walk that distance just to get one page printed. My doctor just told me I needed some exercise. No problem there, doc, now that I’ve got this new job. I think I’ll buy a pair of spiky sprinter’s shoes and dash the length of the corridor in no time at all. Besides, I’ve been at that work for two weeks now and the power has been cut twice, meaning that there aren’t any working elevators. We just discussed this with a couple of colleagues and came to the conclusion that it’s a plot: since they’ve renovated the whole huge building but haven’t built any sports facilities, cutting the electricity is a good way of giving people the exercise they need. Hop hop, get up and go downstairs, get herded outside of the building for some oxygen and then return to your desk. Except that since smoking is forbidden inside (finally), people go barely outside of the sliding doors and smoke like chimneys. There are only two entrance doors, and you have to go through a wall of smoke. I’d say that I’m more exposed to smoke than earlier – you just can’t avoid it nowadays. Health inspectors, hear this cry!

Got a letter from my bank manager. According to the law, the banks are asked to provide “up-to date identity data on all their customers” and to serve that purpose, they wanted a recent photocopy of my identity card which should also state my address here in Belgium. There’s a slight problem. I don’t currently have an ID card and even if I did, my address wouldn’t be on it. (I’ve requested a new card recently, but like I said, it will not mention my address.) Hmm. Obviously the bank had anticipated this, since they gave a couple of options. The first choice was the passport “with indication of the complete home address”. Have you ever seen a passport like that? I haven’t so let’s move to point B:

If the home address is not stated on the official identity document, please also provide a copy of one of the following documents:
- valid driver’s licence (no address there to my knowledge)
- property tax payment, if this corresponds to the home address (err... no)
- election poll card (yeah. right. I get that from Finland)
- hunting certificate, gun licence (last time I was shooting bears,I did it illegally. No, only kidding, simply don’t have one.)
- parking or speeding ticket (A-HA! obviously this would be the most reliable proof of residence. Aren’t you just likely to give your exact home address when the police stops you and gives you a ticket?)

And to top it all: all documents must have been issued within the last 12 months. So, should I just leave my car in a crossroads in the hope of catching the attention of a policeman? – Why don’t they mention lease contract, electricity, gas or phone bill, for instance?

I think we discussed this parking mentality already – in short: if you need to stop, you stop. Or leave your car double parked, or against the driving direction, or whatever you feel like. When the streets are cleaned, the authorities let you know a couple of days in advance by leaving sort of cones on the street, and the forbidden parking time is clearly stated. However, this is negotiable. At least the drivers think so. Nah, the cleaners won’t come that early. – You can also go to the local police station and ask for a permission to reserve a parking space in the front of your home, if you’re waiting for a large delivery or are moving, for instance. The only problem is that people don’t necessary respect these “no parking” signs. However, there’s one way of reserving some parking space which seems to be more reliable than the police device: chairs. I’ve never seen anyone move a chair which is meant for reserving parking space. Some things are just sacred.

And some things are forbidden. Like swearing. Even if you didn't mean it.

A while ago I sent out an ad to be published in my employer's intranet where it should reach plenty of people. No, not a personal ad but one where I was looking for other knitters. I can't remember the exact words, but I was referring to global Stitch'n'B*tch groups and suggested that we should start one here in Brussels. It wasn't published straight away, but I didn't give it too much thought since it's almost Christmas and people will be absent anyway. On Friday they called me from the editorial service. The ad had been refused since they thought it contained swearing and people might be offended. I just sat there, holding the receiver, couldn't believe my ears when the lady told me that in her mind the expression is too close to son-of-a-b*tch. I must confess that I really didn't consider that aspect when I wrote the ad, but if it makes them happy, they can just leave S-n-B out altogether. It's just a knitting group then. Wonder whether we should accept only teetotalers to join. To be on the safe side ;-)

P.S. I've edited this posting later on, because I got some feedback that people can't access my blog from certain computers due to the screening of forbidden words.

1 comment:

Susanna said...

oi vitsi kyllä teil on hauskaa siellä isossa maailmassa :) Son of a b*tch knitting circle, bring your own sticks? Ja ymmärsinks mä oikein, että tuolilla voi varata parkkitilaa??? Suomalaiset on niiiin fiksuja :D

Toivottavasti sulla oli kiva joulu (täällä pohjoisessa vissiin?) ja hyvää uutta vuotta vaan!