Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Things that drive me nuts

...Oh, obviously (as an addendum to the last entry), there are things about living in El Salvador that drive me absolutely nuts. For instance, I've been trying to go pick up my ATM card from the bank near my school. The first time I went there, I got there at 4:30pm and only the express window was still open. They told me to return between 9am and 4pm the next day -- a near impossibility on a school day, unless I grab my stuff, abandon all meetings with parents/teachers/kids, and run out the door after my last period. So, finally I went back a week later to pick up my ATM card. The customer-service agent who spoke to me briefly made me sign a form and told me to return 3 days later, when the card would be ready. I waited a full week, and went back on a Saturday. This time, I had to walk 40 minutes from home to the bank. When I got there, I waited 20 or so minutes -- a very moderate wait time, for El Salvador --- to see a customer-service agent. Then, she took my ID and left me waiting at her desk for another 20 to 30 minutes, while she went to the backroom to fetch my ATM card. After waiting for what seemed like forever, she came back and told me that -- surprise, surprise! -- the card was not ready, and that it wouldn't be ready until the following Tuesday. Too tired to argue with her, I told her that I needed to withdraw some money. She asked in surprise, "You don't have your checkbook with you?" I told her dryly that I had anticipated having my ATM card in hand. So, she wrote a letter to the bank teller and took my ID to the teller. I had to wait in another line for about another 20 minutes in order to see the teller, before I could withdraw my money. Following that, I walked 40 minutes home, having really accomplished nothing and having already wasted half of my Saturday at the bank.

And on the same day, at a different bank, my friend Andrea had the same exact experience trying to do something else that's very simple. I don't understand why everything has to be so complicated down here. Everything!! Efficiency surely is not of critical importance here. Coming from NYC, this type of stuff just drives me nuts.

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