The cash and carry lifestyle
06.06.2008 - 07.06.2008 22 °C
Pay As You Go.
No wonder I still feel like a visitor in London, everything in my life is temporary.
Pay-as-you-go, often abbreviated as PAYG is the system whereby you pay for something up front, prior to use, and when you are done with the service, you can buy more or never buy again. It is a contrast with any sort of long term contract. Most of us would be familiar with the concept when it comes to mobile phones.
My new mobile phone is PAYG. I will get a contract phone once I have settled in a bit more, but for the time being, seeing as I didn't know how much I would use my phone or what types of services I would need, in addition to the fact that my new job, once I get it, might provide me with a mobile phone, it seemed sensible to not get anything long term.
On a side note, I don't know how to say my new mobile phone number. Mobile phone numbers here are 11 digits long. In North America, our phone numbers are 10 digits, and you always split those 10 digits up the same way - 3 digits for the area code, 3 digits for the exchange, 4 digits for the "station code." Therefore, you said your number as such. "My number is 416 (pause) 555 (pause) 1234."
Here in the UK, though, everyone seems to approach it differently. Some do 3-4-4 (011-1111-1111), some do 4-3-4 (0111-111-1111), some do 3-4-2-2 (011-1111-11-11), some even do 5-2-2-2 (01111-11-11-11). Strange. With no constancy, when someone asked my number, I don't know what to say. Usually, I just mumble and show them the number written down. Seems to work.
Beyond my phone, though, even more of my life is PAYG.
My flat is a rent-by-the-day place - you rent it for as long as you need, starting and ending on whatever day you want. In fact, if you really wanted to, you could rent the place just for one day. You come in, stay and then leave the place as you found it, with nary a sign that anyone every was there.
The tube is PAYG as well, with the stored value Oyster Card.
The Oyster Card allows you to put a certain amount down (say, £30) and then use that amount until it is done. There are "travel cards" which allow unlimited travel for a set period (a week, a month), but I choose for now to go with the PAYG service as I am not sure I will be using London transit every day. So far, I have been using London transit everyday, so perhaps it was a bad gamble, but it seemed like a smart choice at the time.
Even the power in my apartment in pay-as-you-go. I have a pre-paid power meter for my place. Once the money runs out, the lights go off. To "recharge" the meter, I take a small electronic key down to the local variety store where I can put money on the key. Returning to my apartment, I can put the key in the meter, and the amount I put on the key will be transferred to the meter, keeping the lights on for a few more days.
All this pre-paid, use it and then leave stuff lends are real impermanence to my life over here. Pounds in for as long as you have them, then off you go somewhere else.
It'll be nice to start to develop some "long-term" connections to the city. Then perhaps I'll get more than a toe in the water. I might even get a whole foot into this living abroad.