14 November, 2008
Faux Pas at the Bank...or...My Most Embarassing French Moment
OK, if I am going to call this blog "Confessions..." I have to confess something, right? So here I go....
When you move to another country, there are a lot of things that you don't know that the natives take for granted. I could not even give you an American example because I know how to operate here. Well, except maybe for Starbucks, but that's another blog. You need money, that I know, so I went to the bank with a French friend to open an account. It was kind of like going to the jewelry store here...a door inside a door. My friend opened the outer door and showed me how to buzz in to get permission to enter. I'm not sure what they use as criteria to let you in. There's just a glass door and the teller takes a look at you and then buzzes you into the inner sanctum of the bank. We must not have looked like bank robbers because they let us in. I filled out all the forms and got my checking account. I was told to come back in a week or so and get my checks. I guess they don't mail them, but that's OK . I lived across the street from the bank above the driving school, remember?
I went back to get my checks...like a big girl, all alone. When I got to the bank and pulled on the handle, the door wouldn't open. Hmmmmm....today is Wednesday. It's afternoon. In my hometown when I was a little girl everything closed on Wednesday afternoon. That must be how it works here. I couldn't peer in the door...the glass was frosted. So I decided to come back tomorrow. Later my friend asked if I got my checks. "No," I replied, "the bank was closed. It's Wednesday afternoon. I pulled on the handle and the door was locked." He laughed. "You PUSH to go in! The only door in town that you pull is the Maison de la Presse and they have a sign saying "Tirez" so you'll know." I felt so stupid! Then I realized...most of the time in the US you pull to go in and push to go out. Think about it. We very kindly accommodate the shoppers who are laden down with packages. Maybe we should switch to the French system. I might spend less money.