exploring, examining, exchanging, expressing
Tuesday, April 17, 2007
A Bad Day

It started out fine. I woke up early. I enjoyed my morning pot of coffee, got ready, and headed up the hill. That's when I got the feeling that things were going to take a turn for the worse. A bus was taking off as I got close to my stop. It was mine. I'd missed it. So I waited. A few busses came and went, but none for the route I needed. Then, in the distance, I saw the right bus. I hailed. He was packed, so I just kept on going. So I waited. Soon, instead of being early, I was going to just be on time. A driver finally picked me up.

Once in San Jose, I bolted for the Heredia bus stop. When I got there, the bus was still waiting for passengers. It was about 10 minutes before we had enough people to take off. I tried not to look at my watch. No sense in worrying about it, I told myself. We hit a ton a traffic. Now I was moving from "on time" into "late."

Sure enough, by the time I made it to my school, I was about 2 minutes late for the start of class. That's fine by Tico time, but I had things I needed to prepare. I rushed around, trying to talk to my students while making copies and getting ready. I was frustrated, but couldn't complain to the group. I just apologized and dove into the lesson. As fate would have it, one of my first activities involved a poem entitled, "A Very Bad Day."

As I was covering a grammar point, one of the administrators came into the room and passed out a class (and teacher) evaluation to the students. This further frustrated me for several reasons. First, this evaluation was supposed to be given out after the third week, not at the start of the second week. The students haven't had enough classes to properly evaluate anything at this point! Second, it should've been given out at the end of the class, not the beginning. This was a major disruption. They kept working on it while I was trying to get them to focus on my activities. And finally, it was obviously a bad day for me, personally. I wasn't giving my best performance as a teacher. But of course, since they were filling out the form today, it would be fresh in their minds. Fan-tas-tic. Grrr.

After class, I had to go to the bank to open an account so I could get direct deposit set up. Given my minimal grasp of Spanish, I wasn't looking forward to attempting this. My need to get paid overpowered my fear. I walked to the bank and saw that it didn't open until 1pm, so I had to kill an hour. I decided to go to the park. I figured that'd be a good place to relax, read, and work on my lesson plans. Not today. Today, a beggar decided to screw with me. I ignored him, but then another one came and sat down right next to me. They both spoke English. Why do the bums speak English? I got up to leave since it was time to stand in line at the bank anyways. As I was walking by, the first bum yelled at me, "Whatsa matter, can't give a few coins to help some poor Costa Ricans?!" Ugh. I didn't need that crap. Not today.

At the bank, I walked upstairs as I was instructed to do. Another teacher had given me a couple of names of bank employees I should talk to. But I ended up in the credit card application area. I was led back downstairs where I was told to wait in another line. Aha. There was a sign in this area that I figured out meant "new accounts." My informants at the school were apparently misinformed. When my number came up, I sat down and immediately launched into my gringo introduction: "Buenas tardes. Hablo un poquito espanol. Necesito una nueva cuenta bancaria." Then I handed her the letter of sponsorship from the school. You see, it's not easy for a non-resident to get a bank account. I needed an employer to vouch for me. I think the letter did more to explain my situation than my pathetic attempt at Spanish did. Either way, we started filling out forms. I handed over my passport and a utility bill. You need to show a utility bill for nearly everything. Another teacher said he had to have a copy even to get a membership at a video rental shop. The nice lady asked me a few questions. Each time, I had to lean closer, not because I didn't understand, but because she spoke too softly. But each time, she followed up with English. So it all worked out. Eventually, after signing my name a few dozen times, I was given my account number and told to come back in two days to get my ATM card.

The worst of my day was over. I went home, ready to put it all behind me. And now that I've written about it, I can.

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