Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Yumiko's Savings Account

Ken has mostly only good things to say about Japan and its culture, and I would agree. However after yesterday's little incident at the bank, he may have changed his tune just a bit.  Let me give you the background which began a few weeks ago.  

Yumiko, as she did in the U.S., has saved every penny of her allowance since we've been here. (She is a clone of Ken in the savings department.)  Although her savings is not a whole lot, Ken thought it important that she open a Japanese savings account.  So, a few weeks ago he and I went to the bank to open the account.  Many of you know that Ken has Parkinson's Disease as well as a bad case of Achilles Tendinitis, so walking is a struggle for him, especially in the cold, damp Tokyo weather.  But we walked to the bank - which takes a good 20 minutes each way.  We thought we had brought all of the necessary documents to open the account - Yumiko's passport, her health care card, photo I.D., Ken's passport, etc.  We got to the bank and filled out all the forms, but at the end of this process the bank teller told us we needed to bring Yumiko's student I.D. card.  She said we could take the forms home and have Yumiko sign them and then bring the signed forms back with Yumiko's student I.D.  Ken was a bit upset at the time, but rules are rules, so we relented and took the long walk back home without the savings account.

When Yumiko got home from school that day we asked her to give us her student I.D. card.  At this time we also realized we needed Yumiko's I.D. to get a multiple entry visa to be able to travel outside of Japan while we are here.  The next day we went to the Immigration Office with Yumiko's student I.D. and after filling out a lot more forms, we got her multiple entry visa.  

That night when we got home, I, for some reason put Yumiko's student I.D. on her pillow to return it to her (forgetting that we would need it for the saving's account.)  The next morning Ken asked Yumiko for her student I.D. and she said she didn't have it.  I said I put it on her pillow, but she said she never saw it.  Ken then began to turn a little blue in the face, so I went through Yumiko's room with a fine tooth comb, but found no student I.D.  At breakfast we were all in the foulest of moods.  If I couldn't find the student I.D., then I would have to call the school and have them issue another one.  The school already thinks I am a bit of a ditz, so I didn't want to have to confirm that, but Ken was not happy.  So, after turning Yumiko's room upside down one more time without the student I.D., I called the school.  The lady in the office was kind and non-judgemental when I told her I was the one who lost the I.D.  She made Yumiko another I.D. and a few days later, Yumiko brought it home.

The next morning, Ken got out the paperwork to have Yumiko sign the forms for her saving's account and there in the envelope was Yumiko's original student I.D.  NO ONE, including Ken knows how the original student I.D. found its way back into the envelope, but all were forgiven. Ken then had Yumiko sign the forms for the bank using Japanese characters for her name.  

Later that day, we were on the road again walking back to the bank.  It was another cold, rainy day and it was very late.  The bank closes at 3:00 p.m. and we got there at 2:45.  The "Helper" in the bank said there were a few people ahead of us, so we would have to wait.  At 3:05, our turn came up, but we could tell that the bank teller wanted to go home and wished that she did not have to wait on us.  But we pulled out all the documents - passports, medical cards, student I.D., and the forms signed in Japanese.  The teller looked over all the cards and documents and the form, then looked at Yumiko's passport and said in very polite Japanese, "Sorry, your daughter signed her name in her passport in English characters and she signed her name on the saving's account form in Japanese characters.  That is not allowed.  You will have to go home with a new form and have her sign it in English characters to match her passport."

Well, if I thought Ken's face was blue when the student I.D. was missing at breakfast, it was now purple.  I put my hand on Ken's knee and said, "Don't get stressed out."  But, Ken had had enough.  He told the teller that he wanted to see the manager.  And wanted to see the manager NOW!!!  The teller who was overly polite, got up and walked over to the manager.  At this point, it is now about 3:20 and all the people in the bank want us to go home so they can go home.   

The manager came over and politely told Ken that rules are rules.  But I think he too could see that Ken was not happy and that we were not going home without the savings account.  So he relented.  He did say that Ken would have to again fill out all the paperwork again and then sign his name and Yumiko's name using English characters.

It is now 3:35 and everyone in the bank is still waiting for us to go home.  Ken finally finishes filling out the new form.  He then tells the bank teller what he thinks of the Japanese banking system.  She smiles in a polite way and hands Ken Yumiko's new saving's account passbook.  Then we get up from the far corner of the bank and make our way to the front door. 
Every single bank employee is standing up at their desks watching as we go.  They all bow and say in one voice "Arigato Goziamus."  At the front door (which has already been locked) the bank manager comes to say good bye one more time.  Ken tells the bank manager to please just dismiss his complaint as that of one from a cranky old man, but, he insisted, the Japanese banking system needs to loosen up.   Although I don't understand Japanese, I completely agreed.  The bank manager slowly and politely nodded his head and we ambled out into the cold rain, clutching Yumiko's new saving's account passbook.

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