More wacky german things...
Our topic this week is money…
First of all, the Euro comes out in January, and that's really exciting. It means I (anybody) can travel with fewer worries about not being able to change my money over to the local whatever. Did you know that Ireland and Scotland have different monies than GB? Or that Czech has different money than Slovakia? Or that the Ukranian money is not the same as the Russia currency? Its darned frustrating!
Okay, so the Euro looks cool to me, but these Europeans still have some major weird ways of handling finances. From conversations with people from all over Europe, what I'm about to describe is normal in France, Ireland, Slovakia, Great Britain and Germany, with a few of the names changed to match the local language…
Okay, let's say you want to buy something. Let's say its something big. Let's say, theoretically, its an airplane ticket to London. Okay. You go to the travel agency, you tell them you'd like to buy a ticket to London. You and Frank work out the details, when you leave, when you arrive and so on. He prints out an itinerary on his computer, and he takes down your address.
A week goes by. An envelope arrives, with a bill, a form with all of Frank's info, and a nice form letter from Frank. You take the bill and the form with you to the bank, and you put your information on there. It now has: Frank's name, his account number in the bank, his bank's name, his bank's magic number, your name, your account number in the bank, your bank's name and magic number, the amount you need to pay, and why you're paying it.
You give this to the nice lady at the bank, and she gives you a carbon copy of the above mentioned form. You go home.
You wait. Someday, ticket arrives in mailbox, and you go on trip.
…unless you need the ticket quickly, in which case you're supposed to FAX Frank a copy of the carbon paper receipt that proves you really did wire him the money, then Frank mails you the ticket, and you go on trip.
That's right, there are _no_ checking accounts, _no_ personal or corporate checks, only rich old geezers have credit cards, but it doesn't matter because they aren't good anywhere anywho. When you want to pay for something, you go to the bank and fill out a form and pray.
I say "pray" because something has gone wrong for me everytime I've put my faith in this system. My deposit for my room still hasn't arrived in the Housing dept.'s account, and I screwed up the "FAX Frank" part of the above. Its totally screwed up my trip tomorrow, thank God only so far as to annoy me, not to actually keep me from going.
Argh! More updates as they come. Let me know what's going on in your neck of the woods… Rumor has it there was some sort of earthquake in Cleveland?