Beside Still Water

Things are expensive here in Scotland. In fact Scotland boasts the highest cost of living of any European city. It’s nice to be the best at something.

All too often it seems the dollar sign is replaced with the pound sign without any change to the numbers. For an American that means our money buys about half as much as it does in the states.

The good news is that there is deep recession looming here in the UK. In November, when Lisa and I were here we paid $2.30 for every pound. Now I can buy them for $1.76, so I’m stocking up.

I was in a restaurant yesterday with some other area ministers and, as I looked at the menu I was again not surprised that the £ guy had been busy overlaying the $ guy. Lasagna, generally a good value in the states, was offered at £7.50, nearly $15 a plate. It was one of the cheaper items on the menu and I was in the mood so I ordered it, and it was indeed a delicious entrée.

In an effort to save a few pounds when I was asked about my drink order I opted for “a glass of iced water.” My colleagues were ordering Coke, or “sparkling water with lime.” A couple were bold enough to ask for a glass of wine, £4.25 per glass. I figured I’d have the cheapest bill and drank my water with a feeling of Scotch thriftiness.

However, when the bill came I was shocked to hear that I’d been charged £1.70 for my iced water.

“Why was I charged for water?” I asked mournfully. “It was just tap water.”

One of my colleagues informed me, “No, if you want tap water you need to ask for tap water. What they gave you was ‘still water,’ you know like bottled water without the fizz.”

“Oh,” I said, downcast.

I tried not to do the conversion in my head and tried not to argue that I could buy 24 bottles of “still water” for $3.50 in the states. It wouldn’t do any good.

Next time I’ll know.

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