Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Easy Peasy

I want to keep my bank account open after I leave, but my branch is really far away, where I first lived when I arrived. I decided it would be more practical to have my account based in Paris proper. So I mentally and physically prepared myself for the process of transferring my account from one branch to another.

Mentally: I figured I would have to go to the bank an average of three times before successfully completing the branch transfer. This is because in France, you must try something an average of three times to ever accomplish it.

Physically: I stuffed a folder full of useless papers the French seem to require for even the most of insignificant of transactions. To prove I had the right to transfer my account to this branch, documents in my folder included, but were no limited to, a letter from my landlord to confirm I in fact live at my current address, an electric bill to confirm that he is in fact the landlord, a copy of his passport to confirm that the landlord is in fact a real person, my check book, a random assortment of important looking papers from the bank with my name and account number plastered all over them, some government documents to verify my address even further, my passport, etc.

All this, and I am not even inside the bank yet.

But by this part of the story, I am. I deal with a poo-pooey woman at reception who says well I really should have made an appointment for something like this, didn’t I know? She guesses she will see if her colleague can see me. Whatever lady. The bank opened 30 seconds ago, and I know I am the only non-employee in it.

So now I am in an office with her colleague, with my bulging folder of useless documents. I am mentally ready for her to tell me I don’t have the right ones.

Instead she doesn’t even look at them. She takes my account number, flips through my passport, prints off a single document. As I sign it she says the transfer will take a few days, and that’s it. Goodbye, and have a nice day.

And I’m like what? What? WHAT?! Never in my year in France has anything ever been this simple. I cannot get over how NORMAL this transaction was. I still can’t. I have wasted entire days, probably even months trying to do stuff like this in France. And here it took 5 minutes. I did not know that was even possible in this country.

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