The new bankbook I got back in March has proven to be a real pain. Specifically, the bar code — a wide, black band located at the bottom of the front cover — cannot always be read by the machine that prints the transactions. In the past couple of weeks this trouble had gotten noticeably worse. With a heavy heart, I realized I’d have to make another visit to my beloved Siam Commercial Bank (SCB) to ask for a new bankbook. It was not going to be an easy task, explaining what was going wrong and persuading them that I had a genuine grievance.
Though there had a misunderstanding involving her birthday party last December, I’d let that slide and had continued to stop by Nicky’s place of business every once in awhile. She’d proven herself to be a very useful translator whenever I’d had important bank business to attend to, and I didn’t want to lose her services. You see, the Thais working at the local SCB branch seem to think the foreigners in this area are sloppy and rather obtuse. (Walk past the Soi 4 sports bars some night with the mobs of obese, beer-guzzling, bawling soccer fans and you’d come to the same conclusion.) If I have to deal with them — the Thais, not the fans — it would be far better to have one of their own with me in order to be taken more seriously. A kind of defense lawyer to present my case.
Nicky was initially concerned she might not fully understand was in essence a technical malfunction. Once we got to the bank, however, I easily brought her up to speed by twice putting my bankbook into the print machine and having her read the resulting error messages. To her edification — and my relief, since I wanted a realistic demonstration — the device first whined that it could not read the bar code, then complained about the book’s transactions being misaligned. A real mess.
Entering the bank, Nicky explained our problem to the “greeter girl” who had us take a seat out front. After a bit of waiting, we were then ushered not to one of the tellers, who had been of marginal competence the last time I had this trouble, but to one of the wide, important-looking desks next to the teller stalls. The woman seated behind it was young, but knew exactly what to do. Although I had to sign my name in four places (the Thais are fanatics about foreigner signatures), in less than ten minutes’ time I was issued a new bankbook that worked perfectly.
As we got up to leave, the desk lady mentioned the importance of always keeping the bankbook in the shiny plastic envelope that it came in — much the same way the bar girls demand their customers use condoms. Though I unfailingly employ both means of protection, I bowed my head in humble subservience. Who knows, I may need that banker’s assistance again someday!