But first, a brief school-related adventure! An appetizer, if you will. So, you all remember those classes I was supposed to teach all by myself? Well, I went to the first one yesterday, and apparently the teacher I was subbing for hadn't told the principal I was subbing for her, because the class was cancelled, and no one thought to tell me. So I was all running around panicking and so forth because I couldn't find my students. It was unpleasant.
So, today's big adventure... I'm going to the theater with Clemens and Enrico on Tuesday! Weeee! That'll be fun. However, the theater requires marginally nicer clothes than I normally wear around, so I had to do a bit of shopping. To do shopping, I needed to take some money out of my German bank account (no, they haven't paid me yet - I just got the two hundred euro reimbursement for baggage charges and travel from Cologne to Dresden). So I go to the bank.
The money in in the Tagesgeldkonto of my account - the savings account. It turns out that you can't actually withdraw money directly from your savings account in Germany. You have to transfer it to your Girokonto first - your debit account. But it seems that they can't transfer the money over at the bank. You have to do that online, the lady says, and then you can just withdraw it with your debit card. Small problem, says I. They never sent me the TAN-list (which you need to do internet transactions) OR the PIN for my debit card.
Lady blinks. Looks at me. I give her some more information and she calls home office, or whatever they call it here. They're going to send out the TAN-list and PIN again, since apparently they forgot to write my apartment number on it the first time. But I do have a telephone-banking PIN, right? Yep, sure do. So she sends me home to transfer the money into my Girokonto over the phone, and then I can come back to the bank and take my money out. Fantastic...
So I go home, find my phone-PIN, find the account number I'm supposed to use over the phone, find the phone number (all three of these in separate mailings, I might add), and dial. Halfway through the computerized spiel I get disconnected and my phone informs me that I have to charge more minutes to it.
SO. I go back to the plaza where the bank is and where I got my phone. I wait in line for twenty minutes at the phone place to get some time to charge on my phone. The dude ahead of me shows no signs of being done any time soon, so I check the other stores around on the off-chance that they'll have phone cards or something I can use. Nope. So I go back and am lucky this time - no line. I get fifteen euro worth to load on my phone. On the way back to the tram stop (have I mentioned that it's below freezing out here?) I stop at Ditsch for some much-needed sustenance and then return home to try my luck again. By this time, I'm two hours into the entire mess.
It's really hard to understand automated telephone systems in English, let alone in German. It takes a couple tries to get the phone loaded, but I manage it, and then I take a deep breath and call the PostBank system again. It takes me four tries to figure out which bank account they want me to use to access the system - the one they sent along with the phone-PIN doesn't work, and neither does the one in the letter with the phone number, and neither does the extended one in the first letter they sent me. After each try, the automated man sounds increasingly disappointed in me. After finally getting the right one, I accidentally cough and it hangs up.
So I do it all again. I put in the right number. I hold my breath while it states approvingly that I did it okay. I enter the PIN. It gives me options! Finally! Unfortunately, the only one of the options I understand is "Tagesgeldkonto." So I say that. It doesn't get it. I try again. Nope. Tagesgeltkonto. "Es tut mir sehr leid. Ich habe Sie nicht verstanden." Tagesgeldkonto! "Verzeihung. Koennen Sie das wiederholen?" TAGESGELDKONTO!!! "Wir verbinden Sie mit eine Beratungs-something or other."
So it decides I need to talk to a real person. I could've told it that twenty minutes ago. The wait is very irritating. It's got about a thirty-second loop of muzak, which it breaks up every fifteen seconds by a guy apologizing and telling me to be patient. On the plus side, I'll never forget what "Geduld" means again. Of course toll-free is not a German concept. I'm getting charged nine cents a minute for this pleasure.
Finally I get to talk to a woman. And it's extremely easy. "Ich moechte 160 Euro von mein Tagesgeldkonto zu mein Girokonto ueberweisen." I probably messed up the prepositions, but she understands me fine, and it's done in about fifteen seconds. Danke sehr.
So, German efficiency apparently means taking three hours to transfer money from one bank account to another, and I have nothing in my wallet to show for it still. I think I'll save the shopping for tomorrow.