In which we encounter a patient people…..
December 15th 2015
Today we went into town because Ariana had a dental appointment and will need considerable dental work.
We were low on cash so we went to the Banco de Costa Rica and waited in line at the Cajero Automatico cash machine. First there were 15 people waiting on 2 machines then 14 people waiting on one machine as the first machine lit up with a “no service” sign. We finally got in and proceeded to draw out our limit of 50000 colones per card as we didn’t know what kind of medical fees we would have. It sounds bad but that’s 531 colones to the dollars (by now you are getting good at calculating this right?) My card went through just fine when Ariana got her 50000 colones her card popped out like mine had done but as she reached for it the Carjeta Automatico went “swupp” and her card was pulled from her hand just as she touched it!
I did not actually see this. Therefore there followed a short unpretty conversation between us where I partially questioned first her memory then her sanity. But I didn’t yell. I was just certain her eyes had deceived her.
She went into the bank to notify them and came back saying there were people in line at the bank for who the same thing happened. The mean Cajero Automatico had given all the customers about 3 seconds to withdraw their card and if they were too slow, too old, or if the baby they were holding had hick ups and slightly jarred their arm – oops, they had to go inside and sit down. Inside there were neat, expectant lines of chairs 7 rows deep and 10 seats wide all filled with people waiting to show proof their card had been devoured – after which it would be returned.
Here is the interesting part. In the US there would be several people loudly storming the bank presidents office, a sign would be by the machine within minutes and some people would pull their accounts by the next day. In Costa Rica people sit quietly in chairs, talk to each other and play with the babies. However you also have to remove your hat (bank cameras have to see your face) and you can’t use your phone – not sure why. So everyone sits there patiently, fills out paperwork and waits. We got into a special line for old people and parents with babies – but we waited just as long as everyone else because the young and middle aged had more tellers taking care of them. I tried to take a picture of all of this but the bank official told me politely I couldn’t.
As we came out people were still leaving the Cajero Automatico and quietly streaming towards the bank doors to retrieve their cards. No sign had been put up and no one seem to be informing the line about the 3 second rule. Ariana had suggested to a bank official that this might be a good thing to do but she only received a polite stare. I must admit this did teach me to get my card out quickly so perhaps this was also the Banco de Costa Rica Cajero Automatico training center.
Next time we will try the Cajero Automatico at the Banco de Nationcial down the street after first checking to see how many people are waiting for their cards inside.