2007-04-13

Humiliation

I have to say that most of my humiliating moments are caused by money!

Today I had another one. International banking can be a challenge, so when I head to the grocery store, I always check my bank balance first to make sure everything is cool before I shop. I did that today, and went happily off to the grocery store. I made quick work of it, zipped through the check-out line...and my card would not authorize, even though I had enough money in there to pay for the groceries twice and then some.

That's when you get "the look". The look that says, "Gee lady, way to over-spend" or "Maybe you should put some of this stuff back." Either way, they never look as if they believe it's a problem with your card/bank. I tried a credit card next. Nope. At that point I knew there must be some issue with the connections to banks in the US. I ran over to the cash machine and tried to get cash out. Nope. At that point I know my face was red and I must have looked like I was guilty of something. She put my bill on hold while I went to try and sort it out. I was afraid to hand her my Spanish cash card (we normally only use our Spanish account to pay rent and utilities) because I had no idea if there was enough money in there to cover it. So I went to another cash machine and managed to get enough out of our Spanish account. I was very relieved to walk back and hand her the crisp new bills, but I resisted the urge to point out to her that I was not a total loser after all!

I came home and checked my balance and I still have the same amount in there as before I left, so I guess it's a temporary electronic glitch. Whenever this happens I always swear that I will always always shop with cash. But I hate to carry around cash because it's just easier to spend.

A couple of other monetary cringe-worthy moments:
  • In our old house we had a 1,000 liter gasoil tank in our garage that ran the boiler which provided us with hot water, and our hot water heat. When it was empty, they would send a tanker to fill it up. The problem was, that it would show up as a gas station purchase. Once, I had ordered 500 liters, which was well over 300 euro at the time. My cards were all denied (even though I had money) because the computer didn't believe anyone would be spending that much at a gas station. The tanker driver gave me "the look". I had to frantically rummage through the house for cash and borrow 50 euro from interns that were staying at our house!
  • A few years ago, I went back to Quito, Ecuador, for my little brother's wedding. When you leave Quito, there is a $25 airport tax that you can only pay in cash. I had forgotten about it completely, but thankfully the friends I was staying with remembered. I went to the airport with just enough cash for the tax (and not enough money in my checking account to get any more out.) When I got to the check-in desk, the airline informed me that it was obligatory for me to have my suitcases plastic-wrapped because of looting. It cost $4 per bag, and no, they weren't paying. It was 6 am, and my friends had dropped me off and left. I only had the $25 and couldn't pay either bill with a card. So I had to ask a total stranger (a very nice American man who took pity on me) to loan me the $8 that I was lacking. He was very nice and wouldn't give me his address so I could pay him back. That STILL makes me cringe when I think about it.
So what about you? Want to share an embarrassing monetary moment? :)

2007-04-11

Library

One of the things I miss the most about living in the U.S. is the library. I am an avid reader, and I can devour a Grisham in a few hours. I'm also pretty picky about what I read; if a book does not peak or hold my interest, I'll put it down. I have enough to do in life without plodding through a book I am not enjoying. The great thing about the library is that I could check out 10 or 12 books (routinely) and read what I liked. I would pick things that looked interesting, or books by authors I knew I liked. But if I didn't like them, I would put them down and return them to the library unread.

Living in Madrid, not so much. We have a few places where I can buy used books (I usually stick to the 1-3 euro room) and then sell them back for a loss when I'm done. But frankly, most of what I may read I don't necessarily want to keep.

I also LOVE the periodical section. I could sit and read magazines for a whole afternoon.

So the next time you go to the library, read a little for me!

2007-04-10

Back in the saddle, but I got burrs

We got back on Sunday and crashed on the couch. The weekend was good, although cold and rainy. I am plumb tuckered out though, and very glad the kids are still out of school this week so we can enjoy some family time. The dog is happy to be home too.

I don't have anything earth-shattering to say, just wanted to say I'm back.

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