The last couple years of my life have been riddled with incidents of my temporarily loosing control of my emotions in public spaces. While I am not necessarily proud of these moments, I can now, with time and space between us, see the humor of the situations. I have already written about two of these shining moments already (see here and here) and today, at long last, I will finish off the ‘How Samara Lost her Cool’ series.
So sit back, relax and enjoy this retelling.
I had been working at Chiang Mai University (CMU) for about a year and a half at this point and it was eating away at my soul. Being employed by CMU drove me crazy for a myriad of reasons, with the only solace being a mediocre salary and the end of the month.
This particular month I was preparing to leave Thailand for my three month furlough and was therefore very eager to receive my paycheck. I needed to use the paycheck, in it’s entirety to prepay my bills for the three months that I would be out of the country.
The usual date for the direct deposit of my paycheck came and went without my receiving any pay. While this could (and should) be reason for alarm, at this prestigious university, employees not receiving their pay on time is common place. So I was not yet concerned.
a week passed. no paycheck.
In an attempt to keep my mounting concern at bay, I checked with my two colleagues to see if they were experiencing a similar situation. Neither were. Both had been paid.
While, still fighting to maintain my Wellbutrin induced tranquility, my unease began to grow. That Wednesday, I contacted the CMU finance department.
Upon talking with the finance department, I was told that my paycheck had indeed been deposited, to rest assured and that my money will surely show up in my account tomorrow.
Thursday. Nothing. Contacted the finance department, they said wait.
Friday. Nothing. Contacted the finance department, they said go talk to the bank.
By this point I was no longer calm. But, this is Thailand. Things like this happen. All. The. Time.
So, I went to the bank.
Not surprisingly, without having the deposit slip, the bank didn’t have anything to tell me–other than there had been no recent activity in my account. The bank tells me to contact my employer.
round and round and round we go.
By this point, my mounting anxiety had begun taking over my body and rational thought was becoming harder and harder to muster up. However, it is the weekend–the finance depart is closed. There is nothing I can do, but wait.
Monday morning, I am back at the finance department. I am once again assured that my paycheck was deposited and was show the deposit slip to prove it. This was slightly comforting. I was again instructed to go to talk to the bank.
While I was incredibly irritated by the fact that it is again I that has to go to the bank and not a member of the finance staff, I concede and go.
(an interruption from the narrator: while you are reading this story, please keep in mind that every interaction that is happening, is happening while speaking Thai, which regardless of my level of fluency, makes everything that much harder.)
I was able to remain semi-cool and ask to speak to a personal banker. The banker confirms what the previous banker had told me before–this deposit had never been made. However, this time, I had the deposit slip… so this answer would not suffice. A mistake had been made and it seemed very clear that the bank was at fault.
After much heeing and hawing, the bank concludes that the hour my check was deposited was the very hour that the branch in which the deposit was made, shut down; due to the closing of that branch, my paycheck was lost in the fray.
Ok. Annoying. But an answer and slightly understandable.
The personal banker fixed the problem, reassuring me that I would receive my money by Thursday morning.
If this were a story about a normal human being, story would end here. The resolution reached, the protagonist given an answer and be at ease. A conclusion should follow.
However, this is not a story about a normal human being, nor is the title of this series: “Times when Samara was Rational in Hard Situations”.
This, unfortunately, is not where our story ends.
Though I had been promised that the mistake had been nullified, I was not satisfied. I was unwilling to understand why I had to wait three more business days to get my paycheck; I had already waited ten. So, I insisted that they give my money, in full, right then. For many bureaucratic reasons I wouldn’t listen to, that was not possible.
So, I told them to give me a 5000baht (about $170) apology gift. I explained that this was 500baht for everyday that I had to be without my paycheck, amplifying the trouble it has caused me and my bills waiting to be paid.
I stayed seated at that bank for three hours. When no solutions were found I encouraged the employees by telling them that I had a book and all day. I was free to sit and wait for them to ‘do the right thing’.
Honestly, I don’t know what I was really trying to accomplish.
The bank employees–three different people–were scrambling for ideas to appease this belligerent foreigner and get me out of the bank, but I persisted.
There was no resolution.
I stayed at the bank until closing time. They were pulling down the chain links over the door as I left.
My paycheck would be assessable on Thursday morning and there was no ‘customer satisfaction fund’ to give me 5000baht out of.
So I left. My paycheck came on Thursday morning. And that was that.
Still to this day I have no idea what came over me in that bank or what I thought I would achieve by staying there all day. There were even times, while the situation was happening, that I could see the ridiculousness of my behavior, but it was if I was watching myself from outside of my body and couldn’t do anything to stop it.
The only excuse I have for myself is that I was really needing the three month furlough that followed this outburst. Praise Jesus for that mountain in Greece.