New bed, old friends, same old bullshit

Our bed is awesome. It looks great and is super comfy…now I only wish that I was getting more time to spend in it! Kara left Monday, after a great visit. We did lots of fun things, plus of course just hanging out and catching up was so good. I do enjoy living in Chile and have met some great people here who may someday become close friends, but the truth of the matter is that I have Rodolfo, my host sister, and occasionally my host brother – although he’s been somewhat out of the picture studying for the huge law exam – and that is about it in terms of true friends. I’m not asking for pity, nor am I saying that there’s nobody else that I like spending time with! There are plenty of fun people, from my co-workers to Rodolfo’s friends to people I’ve met randomly, but clearly just not the same as the people I’ve known for years. Justin arrived yesterday, and it looks like we’re going to have another fun week with him, so I’m soaking up all the longer-term friendship (and the English!).

As far as the same old bullshit…last night I got extremely frustrated with annoying little things that to me sum up everything that is wrong with Chilean society. Disclaimer: I would be annoyed by these same things in the US, and I don’t mean to imply that everything back home is perfect, but these are things that just happen all the time here and make me want to scream. Oh, first of all, it’s worth noting that on Monday morning I spent over an hour in the bank just waiting to cash a check. There were 15 people in line in front of me…over an hour, people. It is insane, I think Chilean banks are actually hell on earth. And if any Chilean friends have advice on a bank that will actually give me an account, it would be MUCH appreciated. Up til this point, I have been told that because I am not married and don’t have permanent residence (just a work visa, which is good enough for the government but apparently not for banks!), I can’t have an account because I might borrow money and then run away to the US without repaying my debt. My argument that I am not actually asking for credit, that they can give me an account that doesn’t even offer credit, has led to either no response or, in one case, being told “well yes, but you might leave after a couple months, and that’s just not the idea.” What? What does that even mean? So for the moment I have no account and therefore must physically go to the bank each month to cash checks.

Anyway, back to yesterday. First I went to the pharmacy, where my insurance that I was once so excited about is supposed to get me a 15% discount. I went last month and was told I wasn’t in the system yet, and my insurance said “oh yeah, you’re paying and you get coverage for doctors visits, but those extra services don’t start until April because you’re not in the system yet.” I find it somewhat ridiculous that in this day and age it takes a month to get me in the system, but if that’s how it is then who am I, a mere customer who in Chile is never right, to argue? I waited until yesterday to buy some things in order to get my discount, and I’ll give you one guess as to whether I did or not. Called my insurance rep today only to be told “no, of course you’re in the system, it’s probably a problem with the pharmacy, but I’ll check for you.” I don’t actually care whose problem it is, I am paying you, so it’s your problem. You fix it. And I bet you she doesn’t call me back this afternoon like she said she would! So, annoyed, I took the bus home, and when it got to my stop it only opened the front doors at first. This happens because people are supposed to get on and pay at the front doors, while people get off at the other doors, but of course flaites (ie. low-life delicuents) think that they deserve a free ride, so they try to get on where I need to get off. When the bus driver did open the doors, about 8 guys got on where I was, pushing this little older lady. I helped her off only to have the doors shut in my face. Luckily the driver realized and opened them again to let me off before driving away, but it just enfuriates me! WHY are you too good to pay the bus fare?!?! And ok, if you insist on not paying (and we wonder why the system is not yet financially self-sufficient and gets subsidies from the government…), at least let people get off first! There is no need to push little ladies! By this time I was fuming, mad at the world, so it was great to get to my building along with about 5 other people only to see that some idiot had left a shopping cart full of crap in one of the elevators to keep the door open. There was a lady talking to the front desk, and I almost said “is this yours? Because you’re holding up 6 other people here”, but the other elevator came, and I decided that I would rather just get home than deal with more crap. Not sure if that was the right decision, as I am clearly still annoyed today.

This post isn’t supposed to indicate that I am some poor friendless person battling the inefficient, inconsiderate Chileans at every step – although sometimes it does come down to that! It’s just that inefficiency is ridiculously common in a system where businesses keep the economy going strong and therefore the customer’s opinion and comfort just don’t matter. And in a society where everyone only thinks of him- or herself – in my mind due to lots of factors, including the relatively low salaries that mean people just work hard but not smart and don’t take the “luxury” of looking at how actions right this minute affect others or the future – it is just far too common to be inconvenienced by someone who just didn’t think things through. Sometimes fighting the injustice just wears me out. Good thing we have that bed.

5 Responses to “New bed, old friends, same old bullshit”

  1. Ahhh, yes, the trials and tribulations of Chile. Let’s get drunk and complain together on Saturday :) Can’t wait!

  2. Kristie says:

    Emily,

    Like you said similar frustrations would exist in the US and everyone has had to deal with them (I”m actually dealing with ish today). It sounds like you’re getting through it and making the good stuff matter which is both inspiring and nice to know :) . Keep your head up friend.

  3. Matt says:

    Banco Estado should open an account for you, especially if you have a work contract and your cedula. They give non-credit based accounts to pretty much anyone, part of a government drive to improve banking access for all, or something like that.

    Next time, push the shopping trolley out the way and then pretend you don’t speak Spanish, all the while laughing silently at what they’re screaming at you. Works for me in many different situations.

  4. What a frustrating day! Brazil is often the same way, however, I can’t believe they won’t give you a bank account with a work visa. That is ridiculous!

    Your bus story made me think of all the pushing and shoving here. I hate it and I used to try to be understanding and chalk up to cultural differences, but now I consider it plain rude. Half the time I want to turn to people and scream stop touching me!!! Ha, ha!

  5. amber says:

    yeah, i think i would have removed the shopping cart and just plead ignorance ;) that kinda stuff drives me crazy no matter where it happens. and living in LA, the land of the self-obsessed, it happens quite frequently (as i’m sure you remember).

    hang in there and enjoy that bed!

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