How best to describe the local branch of any bank in my home country?
Imagine a roomful of people with their shoes untied, constantly stepping on each others shoelaces all day long.
That’s the most accurate mental image I could conjure up the day I went to the branch that my bank operates in Caucagua, when I had to wait for them to solve the issue I had with my debit card PIN.
I just saw a bunch of people walking back and forth, milling around with pending paperwork in their hands, walking everywhere without doing anything useful in particular
I arrived to my bank early (of course, after dragging myself out of the rainforest) just intending to ask a simple question on how to solve my problem. When the local branch opened its door, I made a straight beeline the lady clerks (called promotoras down here) who could clear up any doubts I may have.
I was barely able to open up my mouth when this girl sitting behind a disorderly desk glared at me (looking as if she were about to cast the evil eye on my humble persona) and snapped: “Write yourself up in the list!”
“Just a quest—“ I began to say
“WRITE YOURSEL INTO THE LIST!!!”
I slowly closed my gaping mouth.
So, I went to jot my name in this (in)famous list.
For those unfamiliar with the banking procedures of my country, the LIST is just a plain sheet of paper that the bank sets up everyday on one of those funny desk/stand/benches where you supposedly must use to fill in your deposit slips and any other such nonsense.
You just go there, add your name to the bottom of the list… and wait.
I waited for my turn about three hours.
Finally, I handed my debit card to the clerk that supposedly would take care of my case, stating that I had forgot my PIN and had to reset it. She looked at me in exactly the same manner the other girl had done (as if she was planning to build a voodoo doll in my semblance) and did some routine questions to prove my identity.
Well, everything seemed to progress fine… until the moment she tells me that there’s a problem: the card wasn’t blocked (since I had just forgotten the PIN) and the bank’s computer system didn’t have a provision to reset the PIN unless the card was blocked by the ATM after trying to type an invalid code three times. She pointed that I ought to go outside of the building and do exactly that.
I glanced outside at the ATM sitting right out there through the bulletproof windowpanes. There was a very long queue formed there, in wait for the opportunity to use the ATM; with the right amount of imagination, you could imagine that Limbo had opened its gate and its entire quasi-damned population had decided to take penance by using that lousy bank teller machine.
“So—If I do that and come back very fast, would you do the necessary corrections on the fly?” I dared to ask.
“No,” she answered. “You’ll have to write yourself into the list again and wait your turn.”
(P.S. by that time the list looked like the Titanic’s passanger list. After losing three hour to it, it was already noon and I was hungry as a starving lion. Better leave the damn thing for another occasion.)