Sunday, 4 November 2012

Episode 8: Jasmine vs The Spanish Banking System

To anyone who has purveyed this blog, it will be clear to see that I talk about three things- food, my bed, and my failures within my limited realm of function. Today, I have decided to bring all of these blissful things together in one handy post- for your convenience and for my complete lack of pleasure.

The bank manager at the Santander branch two streets away from my work knows my first name. As well as being one of the more distinctive looking people parading myself on Spanish streets (pale, blue eyed, carry my coat  rather than wear it because fifteen degrees is STILL warm), I have become rather memorable amongst staff members around Madrid because of my interesting Spanglish hybrid. Recently, I have become accustomed to tell my Spanish/Asian shopkeeper that my penny sweets "should be around one euro worth, mate" and then end up cursing myself as I say "see you later, have a nice noche". My first trip to the bank all in all ended up in me being sent to another one after nearly singeing one man's hair nostrils after I insisted "I work! I need a working account!" like a strangled flamingo. After being trapped in Madrid's ridiculous trap doors that bark at me to remove my "metallicos", I entered the bank disheartened and angsty,  with my headphone cord strangling me in protest for abandoning my iPod in the worryingly vulnerable lockers that were afore me. In short, I determined to throw a tampon at the next person who insisted my documentation was incorrect.

"She works for Hola magazine, she works for Hola magazine!" shouted the bank manager in front of me. Rather than bothering to correct her, I waited to accept her kind words, when her colleague other the next desk politely informed her that he knew someone there and it wasn't that impressive. Fortunately I knew enough Spanish and still possessed enough restraint to not nip him over the desk, but wryly raise an eyebrow, the universal look of nonchalant comprehension.

Seventy five documents later with RSI after signing seventy five different pieces of paper, I exited the bank, aware that a neat little card with adorned with some international flags would arrive into my tin of a postbox.

It did, and I lost it two days later.

I should have perhaps apologised to my boyfriend, the second victim of my invalidity that week. It was just too hard. The card had vanished into thin air, like 80% of my belongings, and I was yet again lost in translation on the phone to a Spanish call centre advisor.

Me: "Someone has stolen my card. It actually has some money on it. Please save it, I don't know where it is and I don't know any Spanish."
Assistant: (too fast for comprehension) "Number...card...potatoes" (I think).
Me: Sorry, I can't understand you. (My favourite phrase at the moment)
Assistant: Sorry.
Me: Well, my card has been stolen.
Assistant: This is the Spanish line for lost cards.
Me: I know. I live in Spain. I just can't speak Spanish.
*assistant garbles*
Me: (under breath) It is possible to live in Spain and not speak Spanish.
*phone disconnects*
This happened several times before I walked into my local Santander, google translate in hand. Please picture the scene ahead:

Manager is missing from scene. I locate the unimpressed assistant who mocked my job previously. He smiles, unaware of what he is about to encounter.

Me: I can't speak Spanish. But I am going to try.
Assistant: Si. (I refuse to translate that).
Me: My card has been been robbed.
Assistant: Your card has been been robbed? Where from?
Me: I do not have a card. I need a card.
Assistant: What is your address?
Me: (blah blah)
Assistant: Here are your transactions.
Me: Yes! I haven't been robbed!
Assistant: Err, what else do you want?
Me: I need a new card. My card has been been robbed!
Assistant: (laughs-?!) Oh, cool. I'll send you a new one. Give it five days. Bye.

In intermingling confusion and relief, I left the bank and got on with my work. Rejoicing with hordes of food shopping as I went to the door, it took me to scramble around my empty bag to realise the lockers at the bank were much sharper than I.

"I've left my key in those metallic lockers. Those stupid bloody metallic lockers. The lockers of shame," I said to my flatmate.

"I might go and cry in my room."

Christine was quicker to the mark than I.

"But you won't be able to get into your room," she helpfully explained.

Oh, the tears. In retrospect I feel incredibly sorry for what I put anyone in contact with me through that night. Many a profanity, wail and aggressive snarl came out of my mouth in the hour it took me to finally recover and make a move to return to the bank. In desperation, I even asked my friend to google maps whether the lockers were in or outside of the building.

"Is that even possible?" She asked.

"JUST TRY!" were my words, helpfully capped to express my frustration.

In an unsuccessful walk to and from the bank, I noticed a pack of cigarettes in my bag. As a non-smoker, for once I felt highly tempted to have a puff and be done with it all and my asthmatic lungs. I looked at the packet.

The cigarettes were called Fortuna.

The question is, have I yet learnt any lessons? The answer is no. I just watch irony filter in through cigarette packets, my non-existent wage packet and the immeasurably more comfortable sofa bed in our living room. 

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