Moving to another country is exciting, but figuring out the ins and outs of the new bureaucracy is not! On my first full day in Israel, I went with some friends to open up new bank accounts. We had two banks we were deciding between, and we decided that which ever we hit first would be our bank of choice. We were living in a far-away section of Jerusalem, so we decided to go to the branch in the center of town to open our accounts. After all, we heard that your specific branch is where all important things had to be done, and we knew that we’d eventually move from the far-away area and want a more convenient location. So, we trekked into town, ready to take on the world. another language, another system, no worries- we were prepared!
We got to the bank and told them proudly that we were there to set up our new accounts. Well, no can do was the reply that we got. Why, exactly? Good question. Apparently, you need to open up your account in the branch closest to you. No mind where you actually want it to be, we soon learned that this was the rule. Frustrated and disappointed, we were forced to head all the way back to our area to set up our accounts. Now, the banks sometimes close for a few hours in the middle of the day, but luckily ours was open when we got there. The four of use waited together, and at the same time we were each called to a different bank teller. I explained to mine that I wanted to open up a new account. I spoke all in Hebrew, as I do speak the language and didn’t know her level of English. She soon picked up her office phone and started talking to the teller next to us, explaining how annoying it is to set up accounts for new immigrants. I let her speak for a few minutes and then eventually said to her “You do know that I understand you, right?” She responded that she wasn’t talking about me, which was an absolute blatant lie. She continued to speak. She then refused to take my money to put in my new account, instead demanding that I go to another teller. When I did, I tried giving him by bank account number but he insisted that he already knew it. this continued for a few minutes until I had no choice but to acquiesce and give him my money. And lo and behold, when he gave me my receipt, he had put my money in someone else’s account! Thank G-d that I checked, because that would have been so so bad. This doesn’t happen in America! When the four of us got done, we compared notes. Each one of us had gotten different information about our accounts, making for a lively conversation on the way home.
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