@stuffisthings Claire? Spelled and pronounced the same in French and English. (That's based on the very serious deliberations of a friend who has lived a lot of places and speaks a lot of languages, and is married to someone from a multinational background and they live in a country where neither of them were born.) For boys: Max or Ben (at least in a short form, since the longer versions would be spelled or pronounced slightly differently.)
Also, maybe no one else is an avid Pret-goer like I am, but Logan was making very economical choices in her order. In the world of take-out coffee in NYC, Pret is one of the cheapest (iced coffee from Pret can be cheaper than some cart iced coffee I have encountered). And that cheddar sandwich really is the cheapest sandwich you can buy (it's $4.99). So she wasn't living large. If you're out and about in midtown and hungry, it's one of the cheaper meals you could have. When I'm feeling really flush, I buy the cheddar sandwich, a coffee, and a chocolate cookie.
@xxAnniexx Yes! I think the thing I like about this site-- as opposed to other discussions of personal finance-- is that it acknowledges that spending it not always rational.
@WayDownSouth Yeah, she should only be making iced lentils (that were purchased in bulk, of course) at home. Coffee's only for us rich people. (Sorry. That comment rubbed me-- like several other, but not all, commenters-- really the wrong way.)
First off, yay to that Pret employee for doing something really nice to make a stranger's day! Pret, though, has a tendency to be nice. Logan: I don't know if there was any undercurrent of fear that the employee would be reprimanded or the like for giving you something for free, but I don't think that's an issue. I've received many, many free coffees from them. As in, I buy a sandwich, and they're like, "oh, don't worry, coffee's on us!" Or a free cookie. Or brownie. Once they were giving away breakfast sandwiches (it was around 11 am), and the guy at the counter basically forced me to take a couple. So, yes, super nice, but smart business, too. Will you go back to Pret? Absolutely. Will you tell this story and encourage your friends to go to Pret? Etc etc. Little things. Hell, they've bought me with the occasional free snack over the years. And, Logan, kudos for choosing the cheddar & tomato sandwich. That, too, is my preferred sandwich, because it is the CHEAPEST one they sell!
@stuffisthings Does the job training in Germany have anything to do with the tracking at the secondary level? As in, not everyone goes to university or does the Abitur, and there are pretty strict divisions between the vocational tracks and others? Or is there job training for university-level graduates as well? I used to live in Germany (a long time ago), and I remember an American friend (who was married to a German, and she had no real financial reason to work, just boredom) complaining that she thought being a florist might be nice, but she'd have to do that lengthy training program.... My other idea as a gift to my undergrad institution, should I ever have lots of extra money (I'm in the arts, so this is doubtful to happen): having a start-up fund for new graduates who get jobs in low paid fields (like museum work or publishing) from low-income backgrounds. This dream scholarship would be like the rich parents I never had: it'd pay for moving expenses, first/last/security on an apartment (which, I know from personal experience, is difficult to scrape together if you are making $24K in NYC), heck even cover student loan payments for the first few years. In other words, basically be a cushion that the upper-middle-class kids from my college had that I didn't. It might go to the same person who gets the Angry Little Raincloud Endowed Summer Internship Fund, or maybe not.
(Just getting this out of the way: I'm still grossed out by the auctioning off of internships and all of this.) One of the nicest little and totally unpublicized things that my undergraduate institution did was having stipends for students to take unpaid internships. It wasn't really enough to cover the cost of living someplace like NYC-- where the arts and publishing gigs would be-- and there was also that pesky problem of the "student contribution" to financial aid packages, which was supposed to be covered by summer work (which, de facto, meant either taking out a student loan to cover that bit or, if one was lucky, the parents had enough money for it). But, I always appreciated that nod to leveling the playing field a little bit. Also, not to drag up the whole cost of college thing again, but that's one of the benefits of going to a rich school. There are funds for stuff like that. (Yes, I know they're more expensive, and I'm old and maybe this all changed, but I went to a fancy place for less than the cost of Big State U., because of very generous financial aid; i.e., I did not go 6-figures into debt for NYU.) If I ever have enough to give serious money to my alma mater, I've already decided that it's going to fund opportunities for low-income students to do internships or whatever in the arts. Maybe by then, the whole internship thing will be reformed, but I'm not holding my breath.
@lapgiraffe Thank you! I've noticed the pre-cooked rotisserie chicken thing, too (at Whole Foods and Fairway, no less). OK, I agree that if everyone's drinking, yes, it will be cheaper to eat at home (someone's home.) And, also, I agree that this applies primarily to people who already cook (was it in this comment thread? another?). Back in another life, I cooked a lot: I had everything one needed, spice-wise, and since I cooked a lot cooking was easy. I could whip up even fairly elaborate dishes with little effort, and it made sense to have lots of spices/oils/whatever on hand because I would use them. I can't even get through a bottle of red wine vinegar within a year these days...
@aetataureate Finally, an easy problem to solve: Listen up, people! Stop being judgmental assholes. Thank you. (If only.)
@seaermine Exactly! I wish as a society we'd get away from the idea that math and science are inherently harder than the humanities. (There's a gender thing there, as well, but that would totally sidetrack this discussion.) They're very different ways of thinking and require very different skills, and some people are good at one, some at the other, and some truly annoying people are good at both (I'm looking at you, Eric Kandel, Mr Nobel Prize winner in medicine who wrote a very good book on art, too.)