I have had my fair share of odd moments living here in Venezuela. It's inevitable when you live in a culture that's not your own. Today I went shopping for groceries (which in itself is a weekly adventure full of lineups and fingerprints but that is a story for another time) and in the one supermarket I went to, I was able to find a few items that are scarce. So I filled my basket, lined up to pay, and when it was finally my turn, my debit card wouldn't work. I had him run it through again, and again, the transaction failed. I knew I had money in the account, and I had just used the card half an hour earlier, but he didn't want to run it through a third time because often cards get blocked if you try running it through too many times and then it's just a big hassle to get it working again. The total of my groceries was about 3000 Bolivares, and I took a quick look in my wallet and realized I didn't have enough cash to cover it either. I started to panic because I didn't want to leave behind my ketchup, Oreos, and corn flakes. I just looked at him and said "what can I do??" and he pointed to the corner of the checkout area, where there were two cash machines. So I walked over, looked back, and realized that he was not going to ring the next person through, but wait for me. So now I'm feeling the pressure. I insert my card, punch in my access codes and it asks me for the amount to withdraw. I punch in 3000. It tells me that the max withdrawal is 600. Sigh. I tried to do the math quickly in my head as to how many withdrawals I would have to do, and I decided with 2 withdrawals, plus the the cash in my wallet, I'd have enough. Two withdrawals later and I walk back to the till, pull out my fistful of cash and start counting. And realize I still don't have enough. By now I'm sweating and flustered, and I ask him if he can just try my card again, since it had just worked in the ATM. He does and it gets rejected again!!! So, back I run to the ATM, to do one more withdrawal, now acutely aware that I have become "that customer". That dreaded customer who is holding up the line. As I paid him finally, I turned to the man behind me and apologized, and he was so kind and just said "don't worry, I'm sorry for you it's so frustrating but it has happened to all of us." So thankful for kindness!! Needless to say I booked it out of there quickly and then spent half an hour walking around the mall working out my frustration while shopping for lightbulbs.
I share this story because as the day has worn on, I am realizing how funny it is....but in the moment I was soooooo mad, frustrated and ready to go postal on the nearest bag boy. And as the day comes to an end I am reflecting on what a distraction it was to the rest of the day....I allowed it to rob the joy from the rest of my day! So I suppose I need to continue reflecting on how I can react better in these frustrating situations. But for tonight I will just try to find a spot to store those extra bottles of ketchup.