There are many trials in this life that we face. Many obstacles and roadblocks litter our path, stopping us at every turn as we try to move forward in life.
A huge hurdle for me lately has been getting pound coins.
Why, you ask (not without reason), would I want pound coins? Why not paper notes? Or better yet contactless payment, or a debit or credit card? They are lighter, faster, simpler. Why burden myself with the useless expectation of change. It’s dirty, it tinkles, it weighs.
The answer is of course obvious. Clean clothes.
I can’t do my laundry without pound coins, because in this arbitrary world that’s the only kind of money the vindictive washing machines in my apartment will accept. Initially, it did not seem like such an obstacle to me. At home, I was used to machines that only accepted quarters. Of course, I hesitated about the fact that it takes 3 pounds to wash a load of laundry. And I cringed at the fact that the loads that fit in the washer were just a drop in the ocean of dirty clothes, blankets and towels that I needed to wash initially. All of this and more I found unpleasant, but not insurmountable. No, my worst opponent came from an unplanned direction, as I never planned what it would take to get coins.
It all starts with money. In order to get coins (or at least enough coins to wash and dry 2 loads of laundry) you need local currency, not a credit card. So my first foray was to open a bank account. I started by choosing a bank close to my school and my place of residence.
Day 1: I go to Bank A. After queuing at the bank, the cashier kindly informed me that I had to complete his application online. She tells me that I will need proof of address.
Day 2: I apply to Bank A online. Completing the lengthy questionnaire and answering all the questions, I felt quite proud of myself for answering the inscrutable questions so skillfully. I get to the end where he asks for proof of address. I have a letter from my university to upload, but it only gives me 2 options, neither of which matches the type of proof I have. I submit the letter anyway.
They reject my application.
Day 3: I apply for another Bank B. Leaving the bank alone, I decide to go to a branch that my classmates have already tried with success. I complete the online application online. This tells me that I will receive a response shortly on the status of my application.
Week 2, day 4: I haven’t received anything, so I go to bank B. Having heard nothing, I go to bank B in person and ask for their help. The lady tells me that she can help me finalize my application, but that she will have to see my passport. After leaving this at my apartment I leave.
Day 4 Afternoon: I return to the bank to see a sign saying they are “out for lunch” and will be during the rest of the time I am available.
Day 5: I go back to the bank with my passport. The banker helps me to open my account. Hit! He tells me that I will receive my debit card in a week, after which I can withdraw money.
Week 3, Day 6: No debit card arrived. My room is supposed to let me know if I get any mail, but thinking maybe something happened, I come to ask them. My card arrived but they forgot to tell me.
Day 7: I go to an ATM to withdraw money, but it’s a Sunday so the bank is closed. The ATM where I go is also closed.
Day 8: I go to another ATM to withdraw money. He asks me for my brooch, which I don’t know and they never told me. I try to guess the pin I thought I put. Nothing works.
Day 9: I find my PIN code and I do not memorize it correctly. When I go to another ATM and try to withdraw money, I enter it incorrectly, which blocks my access to my account.
Day 10: I finally discover my PIN code and memorize it correctly. Then I go to the ATM and withdraw cash! I go to the bank to exchange it for coins but they are on lunch break.
Day 10 Afternoon: I come home after the lunch break and the cashier tells me that I have to go to a bank with teller service to collect some coins! I ask where to go and they send me to another city.
Day 10 Afternoon: I go to the other city, the bank is closed and does not say when it will reopen. The bank and ATMs are closed indefinitely.
Day 11: I hear from a classmate that the Post Office can give coins. I am going to the post office…
Full of impatience, I enter the post office. The fate of my laundry is in the hands of the post offices. There is a long queue in which I wait impatiently. As I finally walk over to the counter, I hold my breath. Will they respond positively? I was thwarted at every turn, I don’t have much hope here at the end. When I ask for one pound coins, the lady mumbles something. I nod my head, hoping she answers in the affirmative. She walks away and comes back with… coins! Glorious, beautiful, shimmering, heavy, tinkling, coins! I deposit the money necessary for the exchange and deposit the bag in my bag.
Clean laundry is now in my future!