Wednesday, June 17, 2009

in case you get too sappy

Try closing your bank account. And then try canceling your internet service. And then, for the sheer enjoyment of another line to stand in for twenty or thirty minutes, get something (anything) notarized.

We left school early with another couple to close our accounts. We arrived at the Ciudad Jardin branch of Banco de Occidente to close our savings accounts. We arrived at 11:33 in the morning. The bank closes from 11:30 until 2 in the afternoon for lunch. I want a lunch like that. I stuck my toe against the glass door the security gaurd was trying to close. He kept pushing. I moved my foot. No exceptions for gringos.

So we thought: early lunch at one of my favorite spots for mango y maracuya juice. Antonina's. We walked there and looked up, started laughing. The restaurant wasn't just closed. It wasn't even there anymore. A Cafe Mulato will be moving in soon.

This story gets long. Too long. We took a cab to Unicentro. I got my Antonina's fix and Josh and Kristy got their McDonalds fix and Justin, stomach roiling, ate his PB&J. Unicentro has a Banco de Occidente and we thought: Awesome. Close the accounts. We couldn't do that because our accounts weren't originally opened with that branch. We all started count the ways. As a consolation prize, the banker wrote out each of our account balances. Little pieces of paper to throw away. He tried.

Back to Ciudad Jardin, kissing that front entrance at two when the gaurd smiled. Now you may enter. Closing the accounts took about forty-five minutes. And we left before Josh and Kristy.

On to Unitel/Uniweb/UniAggravation. The woman at the desk was a battle ax. I don't think I've been that rudely judgemental about people here before but this lady was having none of our halting Spanish and typed letter explaining that we wanted to cancel our internet service. Our last bill wasn't printed so we couldn't actually pay it yet. Tomorrow it would be ready. Right. This is only a problem because Bolivar requires proof of cancellation of services and proof of last payments before they'll give you your last paycheck. See how this works on a tight timeline?

Battle Ax asked for copies of Justin's cedula. We returned with those. Still no last bill. I called our secretary at school to beg translation. I thought perhaps Battle Ax didn't quite understand our predicament. She refused - actually refused - to speak with our secretary, even after I explained that it was only for translation. No hoodwinking. I began tearing up, trying for the umpteenth (okay, fourth or fifth) time to explain: We need to cancel our service. We need to pay our bill. She started writing up a bill by hand which seemed a bit suspect, charging us four hundred thousand pesos to terminate our contract. That's about two hundred dollars.

A young man stood up to help us. At this point, Battle Ax was still writing out a factura that probably would have netted three hundred thousand pesos for her own pocket. Young Man spoke fluent English and properly commiserated with Justin about the backwardness of several business practices here in Colombia. Bemoaned the lack of customer service. Yada yada. He and his mother were there to cancel their service too. Wonder if it cost them four hundred thousand pesos.

Following those forty minutes of getting nothing down - unless you count renewing your misplaced rage at a lousy internet service - we stood in another line to get a document notarized. This document (and cedula copies!) says that I can take Claire out of the country on Friday. By myself.

That's right. Claire and I get another shot at the Cali Miami Chicago journey. Justin will come home sometime next week. That's another longshort story.

In the end: I get sappy and this drops in my lap. Say chao to paperwork and Battle Ax and lines.

Who am I kidding? I'll get paperwork and Battle Axes and lines in the Middle East too. I'll get paperwork and Battle Axes and lines until I learn to be calm about paperwork and Battle Axes and lines. Gak. I need a long life.


DC Running Mama said...

I have no patience PERIOD...let alone trying to deal with hacks in another language. Ironic that I actually work for a big bureaucracy!

Natalie D said...

Oh man. This is crazy!!

Angela and David Kidd said...

That would drive me crazy. I go nuts in Italy were nothing is organized or orderly, I can't imagine what I would do in Columbia. I can't even imagine your frustration. I hope the flight goes well. You are one tough chick for taking that on alone.