Thursday, August 23, 2007

Two-faced

One of the major lessons that's really been brought home to me through this process of moving country and setting out to live the dream is that, even in the midst of adventure and excitement, everything (and I mean EVERYTHING) has both an upside and a downside. Case in point - while I very much enjoy the one-on-one nature of my interactions here (my bank's customer service rep recognized me the 2nd time he saw me 2 weeks later!), that person-to-person style of business goes hand in hand with what feels at times like a massive lack of efficiency.

That's probably my biggest complaint right now, and one I have to remind myself to take in context, but NOTHING seems to get done quickly here! It took me three weeks to get a bank account. Why? Because of just how non-streamlined the banking industry seems to be here. Everything needs to go through your original branch. Even if you see a branch on the side of the road and think, "Oh, I'll just stop in there and take care of a little business", that so convenient stop will cost you, my friend! I went in to do an international transfer to my U.S. bank account. After all the forms, etc, etc, were completed, what did I hear? "Thank you Ms. Expat, we'll send this on to your branch and you'll hear back from them tomorrow." What the .....?!! What did I waste my time for with you then?!!

On the other hand, I do really enjoy customer service people on the phone talking to me as if we're buds and the odd bus-stop companion engaging me in conversation and somehow rooting out quite a bit of "personal" info in what seems to be record time!

Plus, I have to say, I've never met a more generous and giving group of people. And I don't think it's the fact that I'm in a social services field or just that I'm a single woman, alone, who apparently looks a good bit younger than her age I've been driven places, taken out to dinner, offered loans and places to stay when my 1st paycheck got messed up then sent somewhere else, and generally had people put themselves out like you wouldn't believe just because they felt it was needed (even when it wasn't). It's actually been overwhelming at times because it's not what an American frame of mind leads you to expect from virtual strangers at all.

I think it's called the silver lining :-)

8 comments:

Beth said...

Oh lord, I should have warned you about the old "specific branch" trick. I particularly enjoy the shortened Wed. hours too for "bank training". And yet the speed of my transactions never get any faster... The silver lining though is that for as relaxed as they are about serving you, when you need to get something to them they are pretty much just as easy-going!

Sirmelja said...

And not just shortened hours (banks closing at 4:00?), but crucial businesses closing down for lunch! The freakin' post office closes down for an hour! What the....?!!

Beth said...

Yeah, that one still gets me. And why do they get 75 minutes for lunch when the rest of us only get 60 - if we're lucky? It's like they've never heard of a staggered lunch hour.

Anonymous said...

You do indeed look younger than your age. I'm not just channelling for Bill Clinton, either...

Liz in Dublin said...

Maybe it's Cork, but I do not feel people ANYWHERE in Dublin in any industry are friendly. I think they are mostly angry, self-obsessed jerks. I really have never met such a group of self-important people ever in my life. This could just be Dublin, though.

Sirmelja said...

OK Liz, calm down and "don't panic"! :-) Clearly you've been having a bad day? Couple of days??

Actually, I think the problem maybe is that you live in a big city whereas I live in a small city that hasn't quite gotten over their middle-class background. Thus, angry self-obsessed jerks vs. gentle, generous Irish colleens. Oh, wait, that's a stereotype too! I lived in NYC for awhile and, except for the not ever looking people in the eye mentality, and the general messiness and smell, I generally liked the people I met there too.

I'm thinking you've been having a bad run of luck. Does this mean I should put off my Dublin visit?

Liz in Dublin said...

No you shouldn't, and I'm sorry that I sounded so negative. It's just I lived in NYC as well and I have never felt such...entitlement in my life, even in NYC and that's saying something.

Rarely do I encounter friendly, helpful people in shops and when I ask for help I am regarded as an annoyance. It hasn't been a bad few days at all, I'm just kind of sick of it.

Sirmelja said...

I have to agree that customer service is not a real strength here. Sorry to hear about the rest of it. Now I'm really glad I moved to Cork!