A New ‘Normal’

It has been 3 months since stepping back into my passport and birthplace country.  This time has been filled with many different scenarios and adventures. I have lived outside of the country for 40 years with an exception of 4 years in the early 1980’s.  From time to time I will share with you some of the daily adventures of this so-called “wise and seasoned” sojourner as I try to manoeuvre the day-to-day realities.  Some of the experiences, and I use this word in a wide context, range from mundane to eye opening.  Experiences and adventures used to involve visiting new countries, learning about new cultures, meeting new global citizens, and working with some of the most intellectual and experienced people in their fields.  Well these last few months carry the same newness but in such a different context.

A New ‘Normal’ Day in my life –

By the end of the day – this was one of those days – I just flopped into bed and re-lived what had happened.  My new norm has become waking up and thinking – what will I do today and how much will I get done with trying to settle in to this new “planet.” So – the wise and seasoned sojourner had to sign up for retirement in a system she doesn’t understand at all.  So I called a couple of friends – they said, “so easy – just go online and it will take 15 minutes.”  Well anyone who knows, k me knows this – technology and I just have “issues” with one another.  This is another new world, which I will write about, in another article.

So I punch in the web site and within minutes I am calling the number that is given for assistance. So I had to wait 40 minutes while I listened to the same recording.  How about music or something?  Finally a voice – a human being and he proceeds to tell me the first initial steps of filling out the application but due to confidentiality – he can only take me so far and I can do the rest.  What was the 40-minute wait about to be told how to fill out my name? Hmmm – anyway – so the first part of the day and 2 HOURS later after several other calls the application was completed.  I think the system doesn’t realize that people have lived overseas and there could be certain areas that are not “straightforward.”

I shrugged and accepted that this day would have some twists and curves.  So moving on – I am going through my paperwork – which I do often.  I recently changed my web hosting company – only to find out I had been charged by the old company and now the new company would have to deal with the old company. Point being – I Have Been Charged Twice and I Will Have To Deal With It.

Next – bank time and I need to make a transfer to another bank.  I have lived in a city overseas that is totally efficient when it comes to financial services and customer service.  So innocently I walk into the bank to only be told the Bank Manager is the only one who can make a transfer and could I come back in an hour.  The bank wrote down the information required for the transfer so I called the other bank, which is 1600 kilometers away, and they gave me the routing number. I walked back an hour later to meet with the manager as instructed and basically I was told I could work with the teller I met an hour ago.  For almost 90 minutes, I was told I had the wrong routing number which the teller in his bank had told me 3 times this was the correct routing number.

My patience and my mouth fell as it went on and on at the bank yesterday to finally be told, yes, this was the correct routing number.  I lost my patience totally and then saw some incorrect spelling on the name of the city and more.  I felt like I was back teaching English from decades ago.  The Branch Manager came over to say, “they were doing the best he could, he had not had lunch and would I like a glass of water.”  90 minutes later – I was finally told I had given them the routing number that was right. So in total to make a transfer took:  150 MINUTES.

I went a bought the largest Chocolate Chip Cookie I could find and inhaled it within minutes.

Next step and now it getting close to a glass of wine time.  I receive a text from my friend that lives many kilometers away to say I had received this huge box delivered to her house. What are you talking about – well my billing address on a credit card – which I have had for decades -uses her address.  The shipment = even though – the correct address for delivery was given – the “stuff” was sent to the billing address.  So back on the phone with customer service – which took some time again.  The agent was very pleasant and yes, we went through the steps but again – another hour.  I couldn’t believe it so my mouth dropped again.

Finally – I looked at all the other paperwork I was supposed to have finished and just went for a walk.

What I have noticed is that the definition of EFFICIENCY and CUSTOMER SERVICE can be misleading and certainly in different cultural settings has different meanings. It is quite incredulous what – in my definition – should be “simple” turns out to be a production and then the word “We Are Sorry” seems to excuse the amount of time it has taken to complete the tasks. Then, listening why it took so long – “oh the system isn’t working” or something. Yes, I did finally laugh at this Re-Entry back into the ‘normal’ world that is so foreign but real.

Welcome Back – Hmmmmmm -this going to take a long, long time.