Completing a banking transaction in China can be a complicated business.
The staff are generally helpful (apart from one cashier who used to complain about me while I was standing right in front of her) while in the bigger cities it’s not too hard to find more than one clerk who speaks good English.
The difficulties lie in wading through the copious amounts of paperwork, (the last time I had to change my phone number I stopped counting the slips after my seventh signature), in addition to dealing with a currency you’re not used to.
Putting number amounts down onto paper helps, but you still have to be careful. For example; 30.00 means thirty in the UK, but in China the decimal point is ignored in this instance so a Chinese bank cashier will read it as 3,000.
There was a day not long after I’d arrived when I was struggling to get the right form from the non-English speaking Security Guard. A Chinese lady approached and told me she was an English teacher. She also asked me which part of Somalia I was from.
I was really grateful for her help until she suggested that I meet up with her and her Texan husband to have some fun. Her emphasis on the word fun scared me a little so I didn’t take her up on her offer. However, I was grateful for her help in the bank that day.
Anyway, I digress.
At my local bank, there’s a lovely clerk who always does his best to help me out. His English is okay, but whenever my request or the transaction gets too complicated he falls back on his default position of opening up a new account for me!
Apparently when all else fails, that’s the panacea. “I have no idea what the foreigner wants so I’ll just give her a new account.”
Consequently I now have several accounts in this bank. God knows what they must think when they see my name on their computer.
Well, at least his heart’s in the right place and you never know, when I get rich I might just need lots of accounts in order to spread my money around!