Leaving Money on the Table

 

JY and I have just returned from a three-week vacation to Scotland. First 10 days or so were spent in Edinburgh, Glasgow, Greenock, Inverness visiting family and some site-seeing; last 10 days on a golf trip with 48 other people (38 golfers who play an annual tournament usually in California and 12 wives/girl friends). The golf trip began in St Andrews, then traveled to Dornoch, then south to No Berwick, then home.

We had an amazing run of luck with both the weather (warm! sunny!)  and transportation (planes, trains, automobiles and buses) until our return home. A delay in Edinburgh resulted in a missed connection, which resulted in an unplanned night in the biggest, most generic, bordering-on-creepy hotel near Heathrow in London. We arrived at LAX a day late without two pieces of luggage, which will hopefully arrive within the next day or two. Heathrow, thanks to staff shortages, seems to be a huge choke point for international travel; many in our group were missing luggage (and tragically, some golf clubs) upon their arrival in Scotland.

Needless to say, lots and lots of eating out. In anywhere but the largest of cities (Glasgow, Edinburgh), restaurants were largely confused and a little startled when we showed up hungry and desiring to eat.

In the most hilarious of examples, JY and a friend and I wandered up to a restaurant above a pub in Dornoch. The place was maybe 20% full. “Do you have reservations??” was the immediate demand. Upon hearing “um … no” while we looked around, the greeter pointed at us in an accusatory manner, then informed us “We can seat all three of you. But only two can order food”. I demurred, whereupon we were grudgingly seated, and I happily drank my dinner.

In many, many places when six or eight of us showed up, regardless of the hour, we were given an appraising glance, then told they were done taking orders for the night.

We visited a lovely small restaurant twice in St Andrews. The waiter was friendly; when we were settling the bill JY inquired about tipping: Cash? Credit card? Should we? The waiter explained that cash was divided between everyone on the same day; credit card tips were divided up at month’s end.

So … Cash is best? we inquired.

He sort of sniffed and informed us that in Scotland, unlike the US, waitstaff was paid a living wage and tipping was appreciated, but not expected. (This was the umpteenth restaurant we had visited that had signs begging patrons to be patient as they were understaffed, a huge “help wanted” sign on the front window, and the waiter beginning the ordering process by informing us of what was NOT available, as opposed to the night’s specials). So JY sort of sniffed, looked around and said “You might be paying a living wage, but you ain’t paying people enough to show up”.

On our second visit to the same restaurant, we showed up at 8:30 pm with the waiter informing us that we would have shepherd’s pie, or we would have nothing. He was only slightly nicer than my mother, with her standard “take it or leave it” nightly dinner choice.

St Andrew’s is a lovely seaside town visited almost exclusively by wealthy golfers. Anyone foolish/wealthy enough to spend the money to visit and golf there would happily pay more for some dinner.

Everywhere we stayed, toilet paper was treated as though it was 2020. I had to resort to stealing some from a public bathroom in Dornoch. And really, the only reason you would steal any is if you were desperate or had furniture that required refinishing.

We engaged in many conversations throughout our journey; mostly Brexit was blamed for staff and food shortages (no mention of toilet paper). Though a few people mentioned that since Covid a lot of people who used to fill “casual labor” jobs seemed to have simply disappeared. (Not just the obvious foreign workers, local students, etc. also) I assume that there is still enough government money being distributed to cause people to not actually work, but I never got a straight answer. When I questioned my relatives (all of whom are retired) the only answer I got was a long list of their pensions (actual amounts were not discussed, but the attitude was superior and that I would be jealous to hear it). When inquiries about such matters were made in past years, the only answers I got was their six weeks of vacation per year, where they just went on holiday and where they were going.

Brexit is the standard excuse for just about everything; we were rolling our eyes by the second week whenever we heard it.

On our last trip to Scotland five years ago, JY’s attitude was “is this any way to run a country?” This year our impression was, “No.”

It was a wonderful trip, and as mentioned we were blessed with glorious weather (a first). We enjoyed just about everyone we met and interacted with. And JY played some bucket list links courses. But after a lifetime of traveling to Scotland, my feeling is that its best years are long since in the rearview mirror. While Brexit has presented challenges, and Covid could not have been planned for, there was no apparent motivation to figure out workarounds or solutions. The problems were discussed as set in stone and unsolvable. A sort of victim attitude, if you will. Resignation.

I’ll leave you with my favorite story. We stopped at an M & S (Marks and Spencer is now known by its initials) for provisions on our way to Inverness. (Where we stayed in a home built in 1600 or so, overlooking Culloden). On the way to the car, JY passed a homeless guy who criticized his beer choice. “Tenants??” the guy said.  JY gave the guy a once over, deemed him an expert, asked for a recommendation, and returned to the store for the recommended brand. JY now considers himself an expert; he kept track of every beer he tried and tapped out at 46.

PS edited to add: my actual favorite story. A cousin lamented that porn needed to be outlawed. Because it gave people an unrealistic view of how easy it is to get a plumber. Many, many complaints about the inability to find anyone willing to show up and fix anything.

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  1. Bob Thompson Member
    Bob Thompson
    @BobThompson

    Annefy: So JY sort of sniffed, looked around and said “You might be paying a living wage, but you ain’t paying people enough to show up”.

    Some of your other text indicates the real problem with this might be they get the money they need whether they work or not.

    Your post is very informative. Thanks.

    • #1
  2. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    It does sound like that destination has worn out its welcome. I’ve enjoyed your posts on your trips to Scotland in the past. But at least there were some enjoyable moments, too!

    • #2
  3. Annefy Member
    Annefy
    @Annefy

    Bob Thompson (View Comment):

    Annefy: So JY sort of sniffed, looked around and said “You might be paying a living wage, but you ain’t paying people enough to show up”.

    Some of your other text indicates the real problem with this might be they get the money they need whether they work or not.

    Your post is very informative. Thanks.

    I was texting son #1 during much of the trip, and that was exactly his conclusion. Taxes are high, so working more to make more makes the government richer than it makes you. If your basic needs are met with housing, food and fuel, (and in Scotland, they largely are) why bother?

     

    • #3
  4. Bryan G. Stephens Thatcher
    Bryan G. Stephens
    @BryanGStephens

    Socialism. Scotland is a proud example. 

    • #4
  5. Henry Castaigne Member
    Henry Castaigne
    @HenryCastaigne

    Scotland is the birthplace of capitalism and the industrial revolution. They have done more to advance the economic condition of man then perhaps any other Civilization with the exception of the British and the U.S.A. and even then we learned what to do from them. It is heartbreaking that the land of Adam Smith is now an enervated socialist state with a weak work ethic.

    • #5
  6. Annefy Member
    Annefy
    @Annefy

    Henry Castaigne (View Comment):

    Scotland is the birthplace of capitalism and the industrial revolution. They have done more to advance the economic condition of man then perhaps any other Civilization with the exception of the British and the U.S.A. and even then we learned what to do from them. It is heartbreaking that the land of Adam Smith is now an enervated socialist state with a weak work ethic.

    As always when I’m in Edinburgh, I made a visit to Adam Smith’s grave and took several pics of his statue in town. One lovely dingbat in our group was confused about my attention and asked me if he was a relative …

    • #6
  7. Henry Castaigne Member
    Henry Castaigne
    @HenryCastaigne

    Annefy: PS edited to add: my actual favorite story. A cousin lamented that porn needed to be outlawed. Because it gave people an unrealistic view of how easy it is to get a plumber. Many, many complaints about the inability to find anyone willing to show up and fix anything.

    If my experience with scheduling was anything like in porn. The Plumber would only be available when your relatives would be visiting. 

    • #7
  8. Bryan G. Stephens Thatcher
    Bryan G. Stephens
    @BryanGStephens

    Henry Castaigne (View Comment):

    Scotland is the birthplace of capitalism and the industrial revolution. They have done more to advance the economic condition of man then perhaps any other Civilization with the exception of the British and the U.S.A. and even then we learned what to do from them. It is heartbreaking that the land of Adam Smith is now an enervated socialist state with a weak work ethic.

    Yeah,

    Sigh.

    • #8
  9. Bryan G. Stephens Thatcher
    Bryan G. Stephens
    @BryanGStephens

    Henry Castaigne (View Comment):

    Annefy: PS edited to add: my actual favorite story. A cousin lamented that porn needed to be outlawed. Because it gave people an unrealistic view of how easy it is to get a plumber. Many, many complaints about the inability to find anyone willing to show up and fix anything.

    If my experience with scheduling was anything like in porn. The Plumber would only be available when your relatives would be visiting.

    That is most likely its own category. 

    • #9
  10. Miffed White Male Member
    Miffed White Male
    @MiffedWhiteMale

    Leaving for a weeklong trip to Europe [London/Paris/Normandy] the end of this month.   Making a mental note to include a couple emergency rolls of toilet paper in the luggage.

    • #10
  11. Annefy Member
    Annefy
    @Annefy

    Miffed White Male (View Comment):

    Leaving for a weeklong trip to Europe [London/Paris/Normandy] the end of this month. Making a mental note to include a couple emergency rolls of toilet paper in the luggage.

    I also recommend some air trackers for your luggage (I got four for $80 on Amazon). When our luggage wasn’t with us, we knew where it was. As soon as we got off the plane yesterday, one showed up on the app, while two remained in London. So I was one of the first (of many) to track down a British Air representative.

    And this morning I’ve been able to follow the journey of our two missing pieces over the North Atlantic.

    • #11
  12. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Annefy (View Comment):
    I also recommend some air trackers for your luggage (I got four for $80 on Amazon).

    We have friends who bought them, too, and in a nightmare of a trip, at least they knew where their luggage had gone!

    • #12
  13. Bob Thompson Member
    Bob Thompson
    @BobThompson

    Annefy (View Comment):

    Henry Castaigne (View Comment):

    Scotland is the birthplace of capitalism and the industrial revolution. They have done more to advance the economic condition of man then perhaps any other Civilization with the exception of the British and the U.S.A. and even then we learned what to do from them. It is heartbreaking that the land of Adam Smith is now an enervated socialist state with a weak work ethic.

    As always when I’m in Edinburgh, I made a visit to Adam Smith’s grave and took several pics of his statue in town. One lovely dingbat in our group was confused about my attention and asked me if he was a relative …

    Made me laugh but it is sad that this is where we are.

    • #13
  14. Annefy Member
    Annefy
    @Annefy

    Bob Thompson (View Comment):

    Annefy (View Comment):

    Henry Castaigne (View Comment):

    Scotland is the birthplace of capitalism and the industrial revolution. They have done more to advance the economic condition of man then perhaps any other Civilization with the exception of the British and the U.S.A. and even then we learned what to do from them. It is heartbreaking that the land of Adam Smith is now an enervated socialist state with a weak work ethic.

    As always when I’m in Edinburgh, I made a visit to Adam Smith’s grave and took several pics of his statue in town. One lovely dingbat in our group was confused about my attention and asked me if he was a relative …

    Made me laugh but it is sad that this is where we are.

    My sarcasm knows no bounds. I refrained and simply said: I’m afraid my relatives were knocking the dirt off the turnip when Adam Smith was writing books.

    • #14
  15. Phil Turmel Coolidge
    Phil Turmel
    @PhilTurmel

    Annefy: or had furniture that required refinishing. 

    Mwah-ha-ha-ha!!

    Ow!

    • #15
  16. Ekosj Member
    Ekosj
    @Ekosj

    I thought I knew how to drink until I went to Scotland.   I was mistaken.

    • #16
  17. Blondie Thatcher
    Blondie
    @Blondie

    Annefy: JY passed a homeless guy who criticized his beer choice. “Tenants??” the guy said.  JY gave the guy a once over, deemed him an expert, asked for a recommendation, and returned to the store for the recommended brand.

    This, I love!!! Glad you made it there and back safely. 

    • #17
  18. Susan in Seattle Member
    Susan in Seattle
    @SusaninSeattle

    Really like the air tracker idea!  Thank you for the tip.  We were in the UK in July – direct to and from Heathrow and we’re now thinking we had a charmed trip.   We heard bad stories during our time there, including a couple who were to do the coastal walks in Cornwall.  They’d been in Penzance for three days already with no baggage.  The wife of the couple said hers was to be sent to her but her husband’s, with all of its hiking kit, had gone missing.  They didn’t even know where it was.  

    Always enjoy your posts. 

    • #18
  19. Annefy Member
    Annefy
    @Annefy

    Ekosj (View Comment):

    I thought I knew how to drink until I went to Scotland. I was mistaken.

    It’s a challenge. My dad could drink, but according to legend he was a lightweight compared to my mother’s family. (As one of my older cousins said to me the day after my wedding, “I come from a long line of drinkers and this hangover is just embarrassing”.) My dad met all his inlaws (sans my mother) in a trip to Scotland in 1960. At the end of a long night of pub crawling, my grandfather, uncles, cousins, father and various others all trooped up to one of my many aunts so my dad could meet her (only men out for a night of drinking, natch). They all crowded into her kitchen, whereupon my dad promptly threw up in her sink. And she was the one sister who was “house proud”.

    They also lost a guy, my grandfather dismissively said “oh. he fell off the trolley car”. Apparently that was a regular occurrence. (I don’t know if it was regular with that guy, or just in general.)

    JY’s first trip to Scotland was in 2003. He was trapped on the inside of a booth while round after round was delivered. He willingly and gladly kept up in the hopes it would help him understand what in the heck was being talked about. He had understood the people of Italy better, with his high school Spanish, than he did my relatives in Glasgow.

    • #19
  20. Annefy Member
    Annefy
    @Annefy

    Annefy (View Comment):

    Bob Thompson (View Comment):

    Annefy: So JY sort of sniffed, looked around and said “You might be paying a living wage, but you ain’t paying people enough to show up”.

    Some of your other text indicates the real problem with this might be they get the money they need whether they work or not.

    Your post is very informative. Thanks.

    I was texting son #1 during much of the trip, and that was exactly his conclusion. Taxes are high, so working more to make more makes the government richer than it makes you. If your basic needs are met with housing, food and fuel, (and in Scotland, they largely are) why bother?

     

    One little, tiny detail that I think the Scots should consider. It’s all well and good being confident the government will subsidize your fuel, or that it won’t get turned off for non payment. But what if the fuel literally isn’t available?

    • #20
  21. Hang On Member
    Hang On
    @HangOn

    Annefy (View Comment):

    Ekosj (View Comment):

    I thought I knew how to drink until I went to Scotland. I was mistaken.

    It’s a challenge. My dad could drink, but according to legend he was a lightweight compared to my mother’s family. (As one of my older cousins said to me the day after my wedding, “I come from a long line of drinkers and this hangover is just embarrassing”.) My dad met all his inlaws (sans my mother) in a trip to Scotland in 1960. At the end of a long night of pub crawling, my grandfather, uncles, cousins, father and various others all trooped up to one of my many aunts so my dad could meet her (only men out for a night of drinking, natch). They all crowded into her kitchen, whereupon my dad promptly threw up in her sink. And she was the one sister who was “house proud”.

    They also lost a guy, my grandfather dismissively said “oh. he fell off the trolley car”. Apparently that was a regular occurrence. (I don’t know if it was regular with that guy, or just in general.)

    JY’s first trip to Scotland was in 2003. He was trapped on the inside of a booth while round after round was delivered. He willingly and gladly kept up in the hopes it would help him understand what in the heck was being talked about. He had understood the people of Italy better, with his high school Spanish, than he did my relatives in Glasgow.

    I’m still not convinced people from Glasgow speak English. After the third ‘what was that?’, I just throw up my hands and walk away. Usually to a lot of laughter. 

    • #21
  22. Henry Castaigne Member
    Henry Castaigne
    @HenryCastaigne

    Hang On (View Comment):

    Annefy (View Comment):

    Ekosj (View Comment):

    I thought I knew how to drink until I went to Scotland. I was mistaken.

    It’s a challenge. My dad could drink, but according to legend he was a lightweight compared to my mother’s family. (As one of my older cousins said to me the day after my wedding, “I come from a long line of drinkers and this hangover is just embarrassing”.) My dad met all his inlaws (sans my mother) in a trip to Scotland in 1960. At the end of a long night of pub crawling, my grandfather, uncles, cousins, father and various others all trooped up to one of my many aunts so my dad could meet her (only men out for a night of drinking, natch). They all crowded into her kitchen, whereupon my dad promptly threw up in her sink. And she was the one sister who was “house proud”.

    They also lost a guy, my grandfather dismissively said “oh. he fell off the trolley car”. Apparently that was a regular occurrence. (I don’t know if it was regular with that guy, or just in general.)

    JY’s first trip to Scotland was in 2003. He was trapped on the inside of a booth while round after round was delivered. He willingly and gladly kept up in the hopes it would help him understand what in the heck was being talked about. He had understood the people of Italy better, with his high school Spanish, than he did my relatives in Glasgow.

    I’m still not convinced people from Glasgow speak English. After the third ‘what was that?’, I just throw up my hands and walk away. Usually to a lot of laughter.

    In my very limited experience, Scots are hard to understand.

    • #22
  23. Hang On Member
    Hang On
    @HangOn

    Henry Castaigne (View Comment):

    I’m still not convinced people from Glasgow speak English. After the third ‘what was that?’, I just throw up my hands and walk away. Usually to a lot of laughter.

    In my very limited experience, Scots are hard to understand.

    I don’t have trouble understanding Scots from anywhere other than Glasgow. The west of Scotland, up in the hills, is the most magical place I have ever been. Seeing multiple rainbows at one time. Seeing the northern lights. Seeing snowfall in June. Local Hero is a movie that really does capture this along with the quirks of the local people. I had friends who worked on the oil rigs back when Britain was interested in oil and went to visit them several times. A beautiful place.  

    • #23
  24. Annefy Member
    Annefy
    @Annefy

    Hang On (View Comment):

    Henry Castaigne (View Comment):

    I’m still not convinced people from Glasgow speak English. After the third ‘what was that?’, I just throw up my hands and walk away. Usually to a lot of laughter.

    In my very limited experience, Scots are hard to understand.

    I don’t have trouble understanding Scots from anywhere other than Glasgow. The west of Scotland, up in the hills, is the most magical place I have ever been. Seeing multiple rainbows at one time. Seeing the northern lights. Seeing snowfall in June. Local Hero is a movie that really does capture this along with the quirks of the local people. I had friends who worked on the oil rigs back when Britain was interested in oil and went to visit them several times. A beautiful place.

    Largely my experience, and JY’s also. My mother was from Greenock, which is not that far from Glasgow. But her accent was lovely and she was easily understood. Of course, she made a point to speak a little more slowly and enunciate. Something I’ve never known a Glaswegian to do. I can do a fairly good Glasgow accent when I’ve had a few, the trick is to mispronounce every word, lots of “long vowels” (head=heed; dead = deed, jacket=jaacket, down=doon) and add a lot of guttural noises. And no need to say anything that makes any sense.

    • #24
  25. Jim McConnell Member
    Jim McConnell
    @JimMcConnell

    Henry Castaigne (View Comment):

    Scotland is the birthplace of capitalism and the industrial revolution. They have done more to advance the economic condition of man then perhaps any other Civilization with the exception of the British and the U.S.A. and even then we learned what to do from them. It is heartbreaking that the land of Adam Smith is now an enervated socialist state with a weak work ethic.

    Exactly right. They even invented universal (mandatory) public education.

    • #25
  26. Bob Thompson Member
    Bob Thompson
    @BobThompson

    Jim McConnell (View Comment):

    Henry Castaigne (View Comment):

    Scotland is the birthplace of capitalism and the industrial revolution. They have done more to advance the economic condition of man then perhaps any other Civilization with the exception of the British and the U.S.A. and even then we learned what to do from them. It is heartbreaking that the land of Adam Smith is now an enervated socialist state with a weak work ethic.

    Exactly right. They even invented universal (mandatory) public education.

    That served the needs of the assembly lines of the industrial revolution very well. Young people then, who were very used to working but with very little time discipline, made the adjustment to working time shifts as team members. Since that change also reduced the total number of laborers required in agricultural pursuits, the rather sharper individuals were able to pursue other skills such as medicine or engineering. That worked for a couple of centuries. Now we face new challenges about which we have massive disagreements as to the proper course to take.

    • #26
  27. Stad Coolidge
    Stad
    @Stad

    Annefy: many in our group were missing luggage (and tragically, some golf clubs) upon their arrival in Scotland.

    I remember one year I flew to go on a big ski trip, and the airline lost all my ski equipment and my ski clothing.  They allowed me to buy new clothing and reimbursed me for equipment rental.  I had a great time, and when I got to the airport, my skis et al. had “miraculously” reappeared.  Not only did I get all my stuff, back I also got to keep the things I bought.  I hope all of your stuff gets found and returned too . . .

    • #27
  28. Columbo Member
    Columbo
    @Columbo

    It sounds like Scotland has had its 46 beers and they have tapped out too.

    • #28
  29. Miffed White Male Member
    Miffed White Male
    @MiffedWhiteMale

    Annefy (View Comment):

    Miffed White Male (View Comment):

    Leaving for a weeklong trip to Europe [London/Paris/Normandy] the end of this month. Making a mental note to include a couple emergency rolls of toilet paper in the luggage.

    I also recommend some air trackers for your luggage (I got four for $80 on Amazon). When our luggage wasn’t with us, we knew where it was. As soon as we got off the plane yesterday, one showed up on the app, while two remained in London. So I was one of the first (of many) to track down a British Air representative.

    And this morning I’ve been able to follow the journey of our two missing pieces over the North Atlantic.

    I’m not sure I’d want to know in advance that my luggage didn’t make the trip.  Seems like one more thing to be stressed about on the flight.  Blissful ignorance seems like a better approach.  Plenty of time to worry about “Wait, where’s my luggage?” after I get to the destination.

    • #29
  30. Columbo Member
    Columbo
    @Columbo

    This is the socialists, and fascists, “go-to”. Pick the enemy, freeze it, personalize it.

    See: Global Warming; Brexit

    They have no creativity, nor industriousness, it seems.

    • #30
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