Today I think I may have played a guest role in the series ‘The Office’, or ‘Candid Camera’ maybe. I am booking flights and hotels for a holiday that is coming up with friends from Canada. I am trying to get everything done online, as Mexico is quite up to date on all this internet stuff. Unfortunately most sites are in Spanish only and my level of Spanish is not quite good enough to understand exactly what I am clicking on.
The first result of this was that my bankcard got blocked. Or maybe that happened days before, who can tell, it’s not as if they can call me on my mobile to ask whether a certain transaction is indeed mine or not (1st: I don’t have a mobile, 2nd: I wouldn’t understand their Spanish). So trying to book online with an unknowingly blocked card opens a whole new series of challenges…
The first flight I booked offered payment online or through the bank. Since online wouldn’t go through I figured the latter would be best (haha), so I opted for that. The second flight offered only payment online through PayPal. I started an account and got nowhere. My bankcard didn’t go through. My bank gave me a new card, and after I paid for the clamp to be removed from my car (apparently it does matter where you park in Mexico) the card magically paid for the tickets online. This took about 7 hours and I sincerely hope I didn’t book the last flight twice…
Anyway that was yesterday; today was the day I was supposed to go to the bank to pay for the first flight. (Yes, I should have done that yesterday, while I was there, but I just wasn’t that organized.) I had to pay the bill at a different bank than my own, so I figured I would go to my bank first (next door) and withdraw the amount I needed to pay for the flight. That went surprisingly smooth, as it was early and only two other customers were standing in the waiting line.
The bank next door had no customers, but here is where my guest role in The Office started.
I stood ‘in line’ to wait for one of the 4 cashiers to call me. Finally one did:
- Cashier: what can we do for you?
- Me: I would like to pay this bill.
- Cashier: Oh, you have to get a number then.
- Me: Excuse me?
- Cashier: You need to get a number from the machine at the entrance!
- Me (looking around, checking to see if other customers had appeared in the previous 5 seconds. There weren’t any!): Are you serious?
- Cashier: Yes, you know the little paper with a number!
- Me (laughing in disbelief and looking around for the hidden camera): Really?
- Cashier: Yes!
She made me go to the machine at the entrance to get the number, and then wait (just because they can) until my number was called. It was totally surreal, just me and the eight bank employees typing away on their computers or chatting to catch up on all the news from last night. I saw many camera’s but nothing out of the ordinary. After one of her colleagues ‘called’ me (my number actually appeared on the calling board), the payment went through smoothly. I totally expected a mariachi band or some guy/girl jumping out of a box to laugh at my expense and to ask me to sign a waiver so they could broadcast it on national TV.
But that didn’t happen. It was for real. Or maybe they just don’t do waivers here?