Last week at orientation, they said it would be fine to get my savings account set up without a visa or any European identification. Today, I tried. And failed not once, but five times. The first bank told me to go to the branch closer to my house (it was not closer, mind you) and they could help me there. I looked for it, but the nice man gave me very bad directions. While searching for it, I headed into another bank. They had me wait for about 30 minutes before saying I would have to pay 35 euro upfront. At this rate, I thought it might be a good idea to walk into any bank I see and ask, since this was already getting to be a much bigger chore than necessary.
So, the third bank had a woman behind the counter. This time in my increasingly shorter and shorter summary of what I am trying to do in Spain and why I need this account opened to transfer my Fulbright money into it, I mentioned the fact that it may only be for 3 months. Not a good idea. I got lectured about what a bank account in Spain was, and how perhaps in the States we can open them for three months, but Spain takes bank a bit more seriously. I fought back the tears in my eyes... was I a scam artist? Did this Fulbright thing really happen or am I trying to lie myself into having a bank account for some illegal business I am doing over here?? For goodness' sake! I kept having to convince myself that no matter what looks they are giving me, or how many times I have to lock up my "metal objects" - which was my keys and my camera - that restrict me from entering the little sliding door, glass pod before you get into the bank (BIZARRE), I actually am just a Fulbright researcher looking for a nice, safe little home for a couple of checks that I can use for rent and groceries.
The fourth bank was after a cup of delicious cafe amb latte (this is Catalan for coffee with milk, as you probably gathered) so I worked up a bit more courage. Now, I know I said 5 banks, but this one was actually the same as the first. I thought I'd go in there and demand to open an account. He was, I remind you, adament in my being closer to my apartment with the same bank. But I can honestly say there was no Santander bank within a stone's throw that was any closer than this one, at only three blocks away itself. Doofus. I know my area. I've lived here a whole week now... geez.
So anyway, I waltzed back in there and headed straight up to his desk where I sat down while he was on the phone, pretending to be very important on his 1990s computer with the neon green font on a black screen. As soon as he hung up, he looked over at me much less enthusiastically than our initial encounter. I said, frankly, that I wanted to open an account at this very bank. I have a check in my hand that I want to put into a savings account.
Doofus: "Listen, I may have given you false information about the location of that bank. But the closest bank to your house still isn't this one."
Me: "Thank you for that. I would like to open an account here. At this bank. It is quite convenient for me at only 3 blocks away."
Doofus: "You don't understand, I am required to send you to the closest bank. Here, go to Via Augusta and up one block, there you will find the closest branch to your house."
Me: "No thanks, here is good." I get out my passport. I am fed up with banking politics.
Doofus: "Nope. Sorry. Can't help you. Good luck."
So there I was. Pissed, and jetting to the so-called "closer branch". Upon getting there, a woman said I needed a non-resident card, called the NIE tarjeta. She gave me the address to the Delegación Gobierno de Extranjeros, thankfully, and wasn't half as difficult to deal with as the few sour apples prior.
So I worked up the energy to sail all the way across the city, near Barceloneta/ the beach, to find this office. I got out, walked to the location and looked up at the large building. Yep, #2 on Calle Marques de Argentera. It's undergoing massive renovations equipped with a massive 6 foot iron wall surrounding every square inch. Believe me, I checked the alleys, there was no door anywhere except one that had a camera and was labeled for trucks only.
Freak out session... or... sigh. I chose to sigh. As soon as I calmed myself down, I started walking toward the subway and looked up at the darkening sky. Hmm...weird, I've never seen the sky so... CRACKKKK BANGGGG (thunder)... heavy raindrops start to fall and the crowds scurry. "Perhaps Barceloneta is like San Francisco," I thought. "It probably rains around here all the time. Thank goodness I am up in Gracia where I haven't seen it rain before." I jump into the metro and make my transfers all the way back to the stop before mine, where I very stupidly decided I'd get out and walk the last 5 blocks for some fresh air.
Pouring, pouring rain. Sheets of heavy, heavy drops plopping down at super speed. I saw a couple young guys scurry into it, up the steps of the metro, and onto the street, and I decided I too didn't mind it that much. I was only wearing a t-shirt and light shorts with sandals anyway. Much to my dismay, the rain turned to hail one block out of the metro. Rivers of iced pea water swirled around my ankles at every stoplight, but I kept awalkin'. I smiled too.
Sometimes I think that God has a way with teaching us things when we least expect them. Only if we're paying attention can we see the beauty in this. And today, I learned all about perseverance... and the importance of obtaining an NIE card to open a Spanish bank account to go back and deal with more stupidheads.