I Went to the Bank With My Coins

Going to the bank seldom is a happily anticipated chore, but dealing with financial institutions in Costa Rica push the limits of the human existence. Long llnes, byzantine procedures and a distinctly Latin affinity for paperwork and clunky stamps form the backdrop. My foray into Citibank yesterday was no different, except that I made a lot of enemies. I brought in my coins.

There were precisely 38 people in line when I went through the door, on a Wednesday, at 2pm. Children scampered about, folding brochures titled “Withdrawing You Cash” and “Loan Options” into paper airplanes, as we adults waited nearly motionless in the curved queue, shuffling one step forward about every 69.5 seconds. I know this to be true, because it took me exactly 44 minutes to reach the counter. The two open windows, looking distant and isolated amid the ten available teller spaces, stamped and thudded papers, counted bills, tapped numbers into their computers. Up until this point, I had yet to make any enemies.

The coins. I set down my impressive collection of coins. “Hello,” I told the teller. “I have 114,975 to deposit, all in these coins. I assume you have a machine that will cont them?” I knew that these machines did not exist, and even if they did, they wouldn’t work because there are several sizes, metal types and weights for coins of the same  denomination.”Coins,” said the dejected cashier. “We must count coins by hand.”

The other teller closed up shop.

“OK,” I suggested, “how about this: I have already counted the cons, as well as separated them by denomination, each in a separate bag. Can you count them later, when the line (still 28 people long, all waiting for me and only me to complete my deposit) has died down?”

“No, they must be counted by hand, at the moment of the deposit.” She wasn’t smiling, and the crowd behind me began to grumble.

And so she poured out my five-colon coins on the counter and began: “cinco, diez, quince, veinte, veinticinco…”

I turned around and faced the crowd. Should I make an announcement? Apologize publicy? Unleash a scathing criticism of the banking practices to a captive audience? In the end, I chose an embarrassed shrug, and remained with my back to them the rest of the time.

On to the ten-colon coins: diez, veinte, treinta, cuarenta…

Hundreds of coins of twenty, twenty-five, fifty, one-hundred, five-hundred.

The total: 114,975 colones.

Deposit made, sign, stamp, clunk. “Watch out,” the teller told me as I handed back a triplicate form that said that I had deposited 114,975 colones. “The people are mad. It’s almost been an hour.”

When I turned around, I think there were 114,975 people waiting in line. It stretched out the door. Then the alarm went off, and the guards couldn’t figure out the code.

This was fortuitous, as the angry mob had another evil to discuss, and I slipped into the parking lot, into the Lesbo Rider and made my way back home.


2 Responses to “I Went to the Bank With My Coins”

  1. Carla Says:

    How Funny! I love your use of irony and satire.

  2. Rusty Says:

    Please repeat the coin exchange operation, but make a video this time. Thanks.

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