International workmen, Barcelona dust and changing perspective

London front door

I have never lived in London for more than two weeks but spent a bit of time there, especially with the headquarter of my last employer being in the UK. During that time I strongly experienced how different (working) cultures are – and how I was stuck as a German between the Swedish and the English one.

Strolling through Islington, discussing construction work drama (painting, tiling, plumbing, floors), a sudden insight suddenly struck me. Providing a service can mean completely different things.

When I call my local Hamburg carpenter and ask him to fix the front door, he comes, fixes the front door and I pay.

In the UK you call someone to fix the front door, the person comes over, tries to fix the front door, temporarily hammers in en extra nail: “Sorry darling, this is about what I can do for you at the moment”, and he sends the exact same invoice.

Meaning in Germany you pay for the result, in the UK you pay for someone trying.

Just a different way of looking at it.

My friend’s UK builder actually died of an overdose before he got a chance to fix the place – after he sent the invoice of course.

Which reminds me of S. trying to get her kitchen fixed in Barcelona. The guys finally showed up after an impressive  bouquet of cuss words over the phone (Spanish has the most fantastic selection of  insults). They proceeded tearing apart the walls, ripped out the hot water tank, left tiles and 2 cm dust covering all furniture to then state working hours were over and we’d see them next week.

Important everyone gets their dinner in time. We took cold showers and watched  Sex and the City with a full speed heater next to our bed for days – thank you Carrie Bradshaw. Thank god we had the flu.

Just a matter of perspective.

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