bills

This post was originally written by my husband and he agreed to let me share it here for our series. Thanks, hubby!

When I lived in America here’s how I paid bills: Once a month I opened my browser, logged into my password manager, and clicked on 5 different bookmarks (power, water, natural gas, health insurance, and car insurance). Each of these links opened into their own tab with my username and password prefilled. I was instantly logged into each page where I could see my latest bill that needed to be paid. My bank or credit card information was all pre-loaded, so I just clicked “PAY” and it was done. Seconds later I would get emails confirming that I had made my payments. Easy as pie. I could pay all 5 bills in a matter of 5 minutes, all while sitting on my couch in my pajamas. The utility and insurance companies made it very easy for me to give them my money.

Contrast that with my experience I had over the span of a few weeks (yes…weeks, it took that long) as I tried to pay bills here. How do I know how much I owe? I don’t check it online, that’s for sure. I have 3 slips of paper that were given to me. I don’t know where they came from, and I don’t know how to get more if I lose them. There are a lot of words and numbers on there that I don’t understand, but apparently there are 6 account numbers on there somewhere.

So I took my 3 slips of paper to the post office, which is where you’re supposed to be able to pay all of your bills. I handed over the three slips hoping the guy would know what to do with them and then I am told that I can only pay 3 of the 6 bills. OK. I want to pay those, but shouldn’t I be able to pay all of them here? Turns out that I’m not able to pay one of the bills at the post office. I would need to use my local bank account’s ATM to do that. Too bad I don’t have a local bank, and too bad the banks don’t allow me to open up a bank account while I’m on my particular type of visa. Looks like we won’t have cable because I don’t know how to pay the bill.

The other two bills were both power bills. For some reason the house we were living in at the time had two power bills. The guy tells me that the post office doesn’t have a deposit with the bank this week (whatever that means), so I can either pay the bill directly at the bank or come back to the post office next week when they’ll have a deposit. The post office is much more convienent so I wait and go back to the post office the following week.

Fast forward to the following week, I hand over my slip of paper again. Here’s how the dialogue goes:

Me: “Yeah, I’m here to pay the power bill.”
Employee: “You can’t pay that here. We don’t have a deposit.”

(He hands the man beside me his receipt for paying his bill.)

Me: “But last week you told me to come here this week and I could pay my bill.”
Employee: “Yeah, I waited on you last week, but you didn’t come. You could have paid it last week.”
Me: “No, I came last week and you told me I couldn’t pay because you didn’t have a deposit, but I could come back this week and pay.”
Employee: “Your bill is too high to pay. You have to go the bank like I told you last week.”
Me: “So.. can I normally pay this bill here?”
Employee: “Yeah. But you have to pay it at the bank now because it’s too high.”
Me: “Ok, so where’s the bank?”
Employee: “It’s on Doctor Rd.”
Me: “Oh, close to the university?”
Employee: “Yeah, close to the university.”
Me: “Ok, thanks.”

I wasn’t too clear on what just happened, but I decided to just get it over with and pay the bill no matter what. I got in my car and drove to Doctor Rd. I went from one end of the road to the other. This includes driving past a ridiculous bottle neck in front of the university where cars, motorcycles, buses, rickshaws, and pedestrians are jammed together going every possible direction, every-man-for-himself style. There was no bank on that road, so I turned back around and had the pleasure of driving past the traffic circus in front of the university again. I ended up driving my car off the side of the road to go around another car that was trying to cross in front of me. This is normal here. So just as I got back to where I started from (20 minutes later) I caught a small glimpse of the bank’s logo to my right. Turns out the the bank wasn’t on Doctor Rd. It’s near Doctor Rd. on another road.

Oh, but wait, you can’t get to the bank from my side of the road which means I had to drive until I found a spot to pull a U-turn to get to the other side of the road. I drive about 0.5 miles and found one of the designated U-turn spots and began the long process of making the turn. It’s rush hour. I use the term loosely as there’s really no definite time when traffic will be bad. After forcing my way into the steady flow of traffic that’s moving at about 5 mph, I was finally on the right side of the road to go to the bank. The traffic is awful. Just as bad as it was in front of the university, but as least it was mostly going in one direction. After another 10 minutes I finally made it to the parking lot where the bank is. This parking lot is the reason traffic is so bad on this road. At the time, a school just happened to be letting out. It’s a private school which means most of the parents are a little better off and most of them have cars…cars that they’re using to pick up their children. I turned into the parking lot which was packed. Cars are parked really close to each other. There was only enough space for the entering traffic to drive one way. Right as I pulled into the parking lot, the lady 2 cars in front of me decided that she was just going to park right there and wait for her kid. That’s right. She parked her car so that no one could go past her. I couldn’t move, and neither could the car behind me or the car behind that car that decided to turn across traffic. So basically, the entire road was blocked because of this one lady. It took her 10 minutes to get her kid, so the WHOLE road was blocked for 10 minutes…as in, not a single car can move at all, because this lady wanted to get her kid. I’m not real big on the whole “go green” thing, but this lady’s decision just caused about 200 cars to sit idle on the road for 10 minutes. That’s 2,000 minutes of idle time which is 33 hours and 20 minutes. I don’t know how many gallons of gas that is, but I know it’s a lot. I digress…

FINALLY, the lady moved her car and I immediately go and find a parking spot. My son was asleep and I was by myself (my wife was at language school), so I couldn’t leave him in there. So, I unbuckled his carseat and lugged him into the bank. No one was in the bank. Actually, there were lots of customers, but no employees. I grabbed a seat and just sat there for 5 minutes before I saw the first employee. I handed her my slip of paper and she began to process my bill. She asked for payment and I paid her.

And that’s how you pay bills here.

 

What about where you live? Do you typically free up a whole day to complete one errand or can you usually get a good bit accomplished in one day? Any similar stories out there about “quick” errands that took longer than expected? Share in the comments! We always love to hear from you 🙂

 

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