The Weather in Our Neck of the Woods

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Some days are diamonds….

today might not have been one of those!

Let me share a bit from my day;
I woke up late – it was 6:38, and I could not get out of bed. My back was in rebellion from the standing, bending and twisting I did yesterday sorting bible class material for the church in Coclecito. I stayed in bed for an additional 10 minutes doing stretches to warm the muscles. Then I got up slowly and started breakfast. Eggs & pancakes. We have visitors here for the week – Magdiel’s folks, and the men had a project planned for 8:00 so I hurried to get that done.

Determined to take it easy on my back today, I sat to begin reading, but was quickly drawn away to translate, or to make a decision, or to see a part of the project. Before I knew it I was walking up the road with Lynn to cut bamboo for various projects, then carrying them back to the house. We went straight from that to garden work. Lynn planted potatoes, and then prepared a bed for cilantro, and then we planted that. Next we moved the strawberry patch to more fertile, and protected ground. After that I came in & changed clothes to help Dany with lunch. I made bread that went along with rice, salchichas (sausages), salad and pineapple.

After lunch I prepared lessons for Yamileth and Emelia in division. Both are having trouble with it, so I made up some worksheets and flashcards so that when they came at 1:00 I would be ready. We had set 1:00 today to begin. Remember that we are in Panama. The clock works differently here. I was preparing for the 1:00 class at 12:45, with the expectation that they would arrive at 2:00. They didn’t. So, at 3:00 Lynn and I headed into town to purchase things that the guys needed to finish the loafing shed project.
Sidebar –
Magdiel’s family could not afford to come and visit him without our help, so we decided it was time to turn the loafing shed into a sheep barn, feed room, and a poop room (animal excrement room for fertilization purposes.) Thus we had a job that Ariel, Mag’s dad could do to make the money for the visit. Hopefully I can share more about this in the future, but that is what the guys (Magdiel, Ariel, and Kevin, the younger brother) are working on this week.

Okay, so off to town we go, with list in hand. Ariel’s list of what he needs for tomorrow’s work, Lynn’s list of the things he needs to complete various small projects, and a grocery list. First stop – the bank to get cash.

Our working accounts for both the farm and the ministry are held at Twin Lakes Community in Flippin, Arkansas. To access that money we use debit cards. Has not been a problem since we moved here until the last month. Two things occurred simultaneously: the ATM machines here began charging a $3 transfer fee, and the machines began showing a message that says “Your bank cannot be reached at this time and you have exceeded your daily withdrawal limit”. Well, first, Lynn is pretty tight, and doesn’t want to pay the $3, and second, we know we haven’t used the card, so cannot have exceeded our daily withdrawal limit. So, as a result I have to go into the bank each time I want to withdraw cash. We have an account here that we use to pay our electric bill, and other in-country things, with HSBC, so that is where we go to do our banking business. The only problem is there is guy who works there who is always rude, snobby, and unhelpful at every opportunity. I try to avoid his window if possible, but today, of course, I could not. I explained that I needed to withdraw cash from two debit cards, and told him how much from each. He looked over the cards for several seconds, then asked if I had my passport with me. I said that I had my carnet (my permanent resident visa)but not my passport, and he said that he needed to see my passport. I asked why, since I had an account there, he saw me every week, and my passport number was on the carnet. He looked around to see who might have heard me (I was not speaking softly) and decided that the carnet was ok.

I gave it to him, then he went to work on getting the paperwork done. Computers are everywhere, but the banks here still insist on a mountain of paper trails. I personally think it is just to keep people employed , at very low pay. At any rate he finally finishes and asks me to sign the two different credit card slips. I sign the first, then don’t remember how to sign on the Riverside account, so ask to see my card. He asks why, and I try to explain that I need to see how to sign so it will be the same as the card. He says in a very condescending voice (with face to match) “that is not important, everyone knows that you need to sign the same as your passport”. I said, “No, not for my bank, it needs to be signed just as I signed when I created the account.”. He laughed and said that I was wrong, that I must sign as my passport is signed, and that is why I must have my passport with me to withdraw money. He is feeling quite pleased with himself at this point, and I am growing more impatient. I tried to explain that if I did not sign the same as on my account that my bank would not honor the request. He said again, more loudly “that is not important, all banks require that you sign the same as your passport.”

I said, “Could I please have my card back?” He said when the transaction was complete he would return both of my cards. He then said “I understand that most people are not aware of the requirements of banks, and how things work in banks, but you must follow our rules if you want to get your money.” I am bordering on furious, so scribble something on both slips and state calmly that I hope that my bank rejects them both and he is left to pay his bank what mine did not honor. I hand him the slips and wait. His attitude changes a little – a little less self assured, but he continues with the transaction. When he finally gives me the money, and then returns my cards he asks, “Is the signature the same?”and I can see he is a little bit concerned, now, so I look at the cards and say “NO”, and turn and walk away.

Don’t think that all banks or people are like that. Normally they are very helpful, and even if they do things differently, they are still quite nice and happy to explain why. He is just a bit power-hungry, I think.

That is just the beginning of what has become a monstrous day of small things that begs the question,”WHY?” I will share more tomorrow. For now I am going to bed!!!!

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