For life to seem interesting, every task, no matter how mundane, should be perceived as an adventure. Really. If one can't live in in pursuit of constant exciting outings, one should try to view routine ones as somewhat exciting. Once in a while, at least.
So, here it is. I had to make a payment of EUR500 and I couldn't use my credit card because the payee did not reply my email about their pay-by-credit-card link on their website being broken. The only other way is to make a bank transfer, which, unfortunately, I was informed I couldn't accomplish via online banking, probably because the recipient account is of a foreign bank. Long story short (I say this a lot, but it never really is short, is it?), I had to physically go to the bank.
I should add that I don't go to the bank, ever, unless I really have to, which adds up to maybe once in a year or two.
It was early because if I were late, I'd never get a parking spot in this crazy town I'm proud to call mine. The bank would not open for at least another 15 minutes or so by the time I reached it's front doors. I stood outside of the building, waiting for the doors to open. A minute or so passed and a man came. He pushed the doors opened and walked right in... it dawned to me that although the bank hadn't opened for business, the main doors were actually never locked, so customers can have access to the ATMs inside at all times. A metal gate separates the ATMs area and the inside (actual counters) of the bank. That gate was still locked, indicating what I already knew... I had to wait several more minutes for the bank to open.
I felt foolish, abashed, but I entered the building holding my head up high all the same. An old man stood near the entrance. He looked at me. I thought it odd that this bank likes hiring old men for security guards... I remember the other one I'd seen for several years prior, a man probably in his 70s, who always greeted customers in friendly manners and helped direct us to the right counters. Anyway, since this old man was looking at me, in what I think must be a friendly manner, I took the initiative to greet him.
He replied in Hakka, a Chinese dialect I can understand rather well, but haven't spoken since I was a little girl. He told me the bank isn't opened yet. I replied what I hoped was "I shall wait then".
An obscure side-door was unlocked a little while later and a uniformed employee beckoned the waiting customers in. I walked towards it. The old man did likewise, along with a few others. He was no security personnel - just a fellow customer like me. I wanted to crawl into a hole.
I was in the bank. It was, or wasn't, quite as I remembered it - I could't even tell. I stood still a moment and looked around, just reveling in the strangeness that was me in a bank. The old man, right behind me, tapped me gently on my shoulder and pointed out the counter from which I was to take a number. Obviously, he thought I was at a loss. I could see in his eyes he saw in me a silly little (as always, I'm referring to my size, not age) girl who'd probably never done any banking in her life. I wanted to bang my head on a wall then crawl into a hole.
There was a lady making inquiries at the queuing-number counter when I got to it. I stood in line and waited, keeping a courteous distance between myself and that lady. Before I knew it, an old woman pushed past me and got into the "line" right in front of me. She was followed by another. Then, by an old man. By the time I realised there was really no "line", four or five senior citizens had gotten ahead of me. In hindsight, I do think there usually would be a line... but not for the old folks. *Ahem* The serving staff at the counter saw it all, but I think she shared my sentiment - they were all grey and bent... if they actually waited in line behind me, I would have gladly, willingly let them go ahead of me anyway. Still, it's rather amusing that the elderly take for granted courtesy that they cannot be sure is granted.
I got my number, I filled up the forms and when it was my turn, went to the teller counter. The bit of paperwork was completed, signed, counter-signed and when it was all about done, the nice lady teller gave me a concerned look.
"What are you transferring this money for?"
There was caution, and some suspicion mixed in with the concern in her voice. I shouldn't wonder. A silly little girl who didn't seem to know her way in a bank would be dumb enough to fall into the scam artist's trap. For all she knew, I was giving away my life savings, in secret and/or against the advise of family and friends, to a foreign "lover" I'd never met. I appreciate her diligence... really, I do.
"Conference registration fee."
Satisfied by my answer, the transaction was then quickly completed.
So much for a half-hour errand on a bright weekday morning.