REMEMBER when you were in first grade and you had a bank book? Well I do. Every Wednesday we would go to the bank book man… which just HAPPENED to be my Dad, and we could deposit money into our savings account. Talk about starting early. It was basically a 401K for 8 year olds.
Regardless, I am flashed back to my younger accounting days because here I am in Seville at the ripe age of 25 and I find myself being the proud own of… a bank book. Well maybe “proud” isn’t the right word.
What happened to the good old days when you just handed your bank book over with your money and your cash magically went into your account? You walked away feeling accomplished and wearing your “You did it!” skateboarding turtle sticker like a badge of achievement.
Monday morning standing at the yellow ATM inside the Caixa Bank, I would do anything for a “You did it!” sticker. I know there is some button I have to push and then I actually insert the book into the machine. This sounds weird to me, and maybe you too? Usually one goes to the ATM to take money OUT, not put books IN. Well it’s a tricky procedure. I don’t even want to take money out. I just want to see if I got paid! There is no hope of looking this up online. When I opened the account I got a bunch of cards and books and pin numbers, but I’m supposed to wait until they call me and then they send the debit card and until I receive this little plastic card to unlock the mystery that is Spanish banking, I can only check my account via bank book.
Well a few awkward moments go by while I do the most reasonable thing I can think of at the ATM. I press every single button. Then I switch up the order and press them all again. I secretly hope someone will catch on that I am powerless at the machine and come to my rescue. While I think it was blatantly obvious that I was like a child playing on Mommy’s big, fancy computer machine, no one helps me as I continue pretending that I am indeed being very productive.
I am saved by the bell.
My cell phone rings. Maybe the universe has channeled my bank book mastermind Dad and made him aware of my banking botchery. He is calling now to enlighten me about bank book etiquette! No, it’s someone speaking Spanish very quickly which further overwhelms me. I leave the bank. I hang up the phone. There is a flicker of hope when I see the open air market across the street.
The grocery store is my favorite place to shop and the marketplace is just heavenly. But alas! I have no MONEY because I cannot access my account! Foiled!
“Don’t I have another credit card of sorts?” you might be asking yourself. Well silly me, I seemed to have misplaced my debit card in the Sahara Desert while touring Morocco last week. Needle in a haystack – debit card in a sand dune, you get the idea.
If only I had the Jeff Mullen Credit Card, I think that’s the official name, and then I could access all my accounts from one piece of plastic. I think they also have the feature where if it gets lost you need only mumble the words, “Go, go gadget helicopter” and the card sprouts blades and flies safely back into your arms. Way to go Jeff for bringing this life changing invention (Google “Jeff Mullen Dynamics” or click http://www.poweredcards.com/jdm.php) into my world.
It hasn’t hit the markets yet so I rummage through my wallet and find a few Moroccan Durhims. I glance up to see exchange on a sign and walk it to see if I can dump my 40 Durhim for the 3 Euros it’s worth. Maybe this can score me some pocket change for the market and then everything will be okay?
The woman behind the counter looks at the money, looks at me, and points to her wedding ring. Does she think I’m trying to buy her? She’s rejecting me, saying she’s married? I look at the ring and then, with my mouth open like a gaping cod fish, I look at her; trying to unscramble her Spanish words as they haphazardly bounce around my wincing brain. In slow motion, I tear my gaze away from her and see a sign on the wall with the word “oro.” Translation- gold. Ohhhh. She only buys gold aka her gold wedding ring. It’s not a money exchange. I pack up my Durhim and stumble back into the street and into taunting sunshine.
Defeated, I think – now what?
I don’t know if it was the voice of God, or my grumbling stomach, but something tells me to go back to my home (the hostel) and eat some food. I do just that and the rest of the day falls into place. The bank book still got the best of me, but tomorrow is another day.