The other day, I had to go do a bank errand that I'd been postponing for quite some time. Our branch closed within a year or so of my opening an account, so I had to switch to another one, two metro stops (and a tram ride) away. Even without being a huge distance away (40 minutes), it wasn't the kind of thing where I would just happen to be in the neighborhood.
Andrei was feeling well enough to stay with David for a few hours, so I finally dragged myself over there.
The bank (in Russia, at least) makes me nervous. I suppose part of it is language and having to speak over a high counter, though at least it isn't through the glass. And not knowing the proper protocol and so on. But it's ten times easier than visiting Immigration, of course! I kept telling myself along the way and throughout the whole process, that no matter how silly I might look, they have to do their job and help me...within reason, of course! And that is true even at Immigration where the officers can be rather intimidating. They must answer your questions and give you the information you need. But the bank is a business and they are normally quite formal and polite. These were all the thoughts I was mulling over in my head.
To get the form I needed, I had to fill out a request...or rather, create one myself. I'm sure I've probably mentioned before how handwritten requests are still favored in Russia. It is considered more formal, and/or less likely to be forged, I guess. There is a specific format to be followed for different types of requests, much like addressing a letter or envelope in American culture. For this specific type, a "zayavleniye," the recipient (dative case) and person writing (genitive case) + passport info are placed in the upper righthand corner, then the word "zayavleniye" is centered, then after a few spaces comes the body of the letter, and then the date/signature have to be positioned a certain way. I think it would come much more automatically in English, but this was somehow counter-intuitive, and the teller was dictating to me and I was sounding it out to spell correctly, and she was composing as she went along, too. But they were quite nice about it and there was no line, so it wasn't too stressful.
The next day I went back to get the forms I had ordered, and waited while they were processing my documents. I heard them discussing what to do in the case of a U.S. citizen, but I liked that they didn't complain about my being an exceptional case. They simply asked me to have a seat while checking with their superiors. And again there was no line, which was nice...though I wonder what that says about the economy.
They suggested starting over with a new balance in a round number, so I was sent to the cashier to get my ten bucks (plus) in change. It came out partly in dollars and partly in rubles. That made me smile. It was such a jolt to see a crisp, new ten dollar bill. When did I last use dollars? I guess it was almost 10 months ago now?
|Long time no see, Mr. Hamilton!|
One of the hardest parts, though, was signing my name! Don't laugh, but I've just never really gotten the hang of a personal "signature." I don't understand how you are supposed to have all the letters in there, yet with embellishments too, and so that it fits on the line. I usually start out neatly and then get all muddled up and end with a squiggle. When the teller gave me two copies of a certain print-out to sign, I signed the first one okay in English (to match my passport), but on the second one I got my languages mixed up and started making a "y" instead of a "u." Story of my life these days!