A week and two days I’ve been here and I already have different stores loyalty cards! And let me tell you, that’s kind of an achievement to get loyalty cards in a country where you don’t speak the language.
It’s been a nice week, quite busy at work and trying to settle down. The trying to settle down part goes with shopping for daily life maintenance as well as furniture as we’re not taking all of ours with us.
Shopping sounds easy. Add the language barrier PLUS the fact you can’t read and it’s a totally different ball game!
Something as easy as buying a washing machine becomes a very complicated adventure.
In Thailand, washing machines do not all heat the water. Surprise? As a matter of fact, when searching on the internet, I did find it is the same for many countries so we French are the exception.
Nevertheless, I had to get over the fact that not all washing machine heat the water (it took nearly a week for that shock to wear off) and go out and get one.
I will spare you the details on the mimes of hot water and spinning speed that were necessary to get the correct one (mind you, I haven’t received it yet so HOPEFULLY it WILL be the correct one), the request for a loyalty card (those usually get you a discount, so on a large purchase it’s always nice), it starts to get really fun when presented with a blank paper: “delively”, “map.”. MAP? ME? They actually expect that I draw a map of where my house is to deliver the machine? Cruel irony, I can barely distinguish right from left and after two weeks at the hotel I still get off the elevator on the wrong side… I’ve been in that house only twice… Ok so my friend C. got me a beautiful compass before I left, but it’s a brain transplant that I’d rather need (only for that area responsible for directions).
But THAT was only an introduction. The real fun starts at the bank.
Opening a bank account, depending on the countries, can be tricky. I am lucky enough to be sponsored in the bank I want to go to, so I do not need to bring cash up front, and will get a credit card quickly where it usually takes something like 6 months.
I arrive on time with all the required papers, and am presented with a thick pile of documents to sign. Up to three signature per page, I sign, and I sign, again and again. Also I have to write my full name. My full name does include ALL the surnames that my parents gave me at birth. It’s like hot water washing machines, a French specialty: several surnames. I HAVE 4!
Once all the signing is done, all my surnames written down on all the forms, the nice lady in charge of my account to be disappears and soon comes back a little bit annoyed. There is a problem with my signature, it does not match “here and here.
On one of the pages I had to sign three times, it seems the signatures does not match. To me they look identical. No says the lady, see here? All I can see here is the line which is slightly different. I insist they are the same, or near, and that it’s very difficult for anyone to reproduce twice the exact same signature. She goes and check with her colleague, same conclusion. Only one possibility if I want to open an account here, be capable to come up with a consistent signature.
Ok then I will change it and have a specific bank signature. No problem. So again I am presented with all the papers to 1. Sign again 2. Cross over the old signature 3. Sign next to the crossed over signature.
That’s another 15 minutes of signing. That’s ok, she’s quite nice actually, I am quite happy of this tight security where with my French bank I could sign a check Lady Gaga they wouldn’t even notice, and rather amused by the whole thing.
So my sponsor friend and I leave the bank, off to work, well done.
Later that day, I receive a call from my account representative, there’s a problem, with all these crossed over signatures it’s not very neat, I need to sign again. But no problem, she’s coming to me.
Ok so we meet a bit later and again, I sign (with my new special bank signature) a whole bunch of papers she has brought with her, together with a gift for me and for my sponsor friends.
Typically this would have got me mad in my home country, but here I just laugh about ot. Plus she’s so nice, there is no point getting upset. I can feel that Thailand is getting through to me already 😉
The story could stop here, if I had not received another call from the bank lady.. Guess what? This time I have too many surname for the credit card application, we need to meet again the next morning which was today.
And when I woke up this morning, I had an email from the bank “Dear Delphine D.F.X (those are the initials of my other three first names) [mylastname] EP (abbreviation for Spouse in French but shows this way on my passport] [myspousename]…
From now on, please, kindly call me DDFX…