All I wanted was a bank card issued in this millennium. After a while I was afraid it might take a millennium to get it.
On Monday I went to the bank to get a new bank card. My card had been issued in 1999 after I moved to Tokyo. It had held up reasonably well over 16-and-a-half years but it had a couple problems. 1) the magnetic strip, which had been hidden, had been exposed and begun to wear out. 2) Although the ATMs still recognized it, the bank that had issued it no longer existed.
I arrived at the bank before closing, explained what I wanted, and then was sent upstairs where I filled out a form, was given a number and waited until my number was called.
Once my number was called, a very nice clerk, lets call her Miss Patience, started to process my application. The first problem was with my address. I’d said that I didn’t want to change my address but Miss Patience pointed out that the address I’d written on the form didn’t match the address on my card. After she told me part of the address, I thought she was talking about the company I work for but she assured me the address was listed as my home address.
The problem was the address listed on my account no longer existed. In fact, it hadn’t existed for several years because the building had been torn down and new buildings put in its place.
I do not know if this means I’ve been breaking the law for several years–and it might explain why I was rejected for a credit card last week–but Miss Patience managed to get the address changed. That, however, led to the next problem: my signature didn’t match the signature on the account and since the card was older than my marriage I couldn’t remember how I’d signed it.
Every time I wrote my signature Miss Patience sighed, told me that was wrong and dropped a few hints.
Clearly I was pathetic enough that she didn’t believe I could be a con artist.
Eventually I figured out how I’d signed it (long story involving miscommunication) and everything was changed. I also managed to get my first and last names on the card rather than both my given names (another long story).
Along the way Miss Patience kept disappearing and reappearing with different forms and we both made mistakes requiring new forms. After an hour together, I was finally informed that my card would be mailed to me exactly “some time next week” and that if I needed money I should go to the counter.
Because the lower level of the bank had closed, I had to take an elevator to the ATM room in order to escape the bank.
As banking encounters in Japan go, it was surprisingly painless given how long it took. Now I’m just waiting to see if the card arrives to see if things actually worked out.