Monday, January 24, 2011

adventures in international banking

Let me preface this blog by stating that yes, I am well aware that I am living in Germany, and that people here speak German, but COME ON. I mean, I figure if you are working someplace, like a bank that deals internationally, and everyone else in this fucking country speaks English (or Denglish, as we like to call it), then shouldn't you at least have a somewhat decent grasp on banking terminology in English? Especially since it took every iota of energy I had to smile politely and not leap across the desk and strangle you with your fucking non-cordless phone?!

From the beginning:

A week and a half ago, my wonderful, wonderful parents wired money to my German bank account so that I could pay rent. (And I do not want to hear anything from anyone about how my parents are sending me money). Anyway, last Wednesday, I got online to check the status of my account and, to my dismay, there was no money in there. Well what the fuck, I thought to myself. So I called my mother, explained the situation, and she called their bank in Idaho and demanded to know where the money was. The bank told her the money was in Deutschland. Awesome. So my mother informed me that I needed to go to the bank here in Germany and find out whose desk my money was loitering on. VIEL SPAß! The thing I love more than anything else is trying to have a conversation with someone about shit that actually matters, like money, in another language. It exhausts the fuck out of me and causes me to long for a big, tall beer.

So today, I went to the bank after class to get all this sorted out. I was waiting in line when this kind-looking, officious old German dude came up to me and barked something at me in German. I politely explained that I did not speak much German, but that I had a problem with my bank account (case in point, I did this in German). He looked at me like I had a third nipple growing in the center of my forehead, walked away and came back three minutes later with this other guy, who sort of looked like the Stapler-guy from "Office Space."

"Diese damen aus America," he said "spricht nur English. Kein Deutsch." Sweet. So apparently my German is atrocious enough that this guy recognized that I was some dumb-ass American trying to speak German. At least he couldn't pin-point the state, or I would have been embarrassed.

Office Space guy informs me that he only speaks a little English, but he will try to help me. Fan-fucking-tastic. Define a little English? Like, on a scale from "I can say fuck off" to "I can say fuck off and then explain existentialism and the meaning of life" where, sir, do you lie? I would say in normal conversation, this dude would probably be a 5 or a 6. But as far as banking terminology goes, I felt like I was trying to explain the concept of wiring money in English to a four-year-old with dyslexia and ADHD. UGH.

From what I gathered, Germany does not know where my money is. He kept saying, your parents did it wrong, the money is still in their account, and I kept insisting that no, buddy, the money is NOT in their account (I think I used the term "credited" which probably threw him right the fuck off), and that the bank in America says the money is most definitely over here in Deutschland, but he just kept looking at me all wide-eyed, like I was some sort of alien slobbering all over myself. He printed off some fucking paper and told me that my parents had to do it again, this time wiring the money to the following numbers. Yeah, okay...what about the other lump sum of money just floating around in nomads land? Just forget about it? Oh yeah, because, you know, money grows on trees in America. When we need it, we just grab our baskets and walk out back and climb up the ol ladder and pick as much as we need. If we decide to wire it internationally and some gets lost along the way, that is okay! The government will give us more money trees!

So yeah, on the list of things I can now cross off my bucket list: lose money internationally and talk with guy who looks like dude from Office Space about intermediaries and debit and credits.

Oh, and speaking of awesome German conversations, I ran into my conversation instructor on the bus, whose class I have not attended in, well, months. It is only twice a month, but it is at 8:00 a.m. Monday morning, and unless my ass is getting paid to be awake that early, I am going to reset my alarm for 9:45. Anyway, she wanted to know why I had not been in class, and of course she asked me in German, but I answered in English, which led to a lovely 15 minute conversation about my life and what the fuck I was doing. What a nice lady. Maybe I will try to make it to her class next week.

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