Back in Amsterdam, The Great City. I was planning on going out to that party in Eindhoven (remember, nothing in Holland is more than two hours away by train, excepting for some small islands in the central Atlantic which can be reached by Ariane rocket), but I needed to check my money first. I had about fl.75 and the ticket was fl.37 each way.
I went to the internet cafe and checked my account. To my intense distress there was no money there. The money had been expected on Thursday. What the hell?!? Man, I’m getting
Ok, so it’s not there. I can’t go to Eindhoven (in fact, I find out there aren’t any trains running that late on that particular night. The train system has been squirrelly this week due to construction somewhere in Hungary). So I decide to spend some of what I have and go dancing in A’Dam, trusting to the remaining fl. 40 or so to buy me peanut butter and jelly until Monday.
I end up at a place called the Escape, which is a “typical” European house Techno dance club. To their credit they have a lineup of some of the best DJ’s in Europe (just ask them), and the dance floor is huge. It ain’t cheap, but I’m not planning on drinking much, I just want to work off some frustration in a peaceable way. Some of the usual observations; a lot of people seem to like to stand in the dance floor and talk, which GETS IN THOG’S WAY!! Most of those who dance simply bob and jiggle, which come to think of it looks ok on many of the women (if not nearly as impressive or enticing as many of the Seattle girls I know), there are a lot of tourists, there are a lot of 18-year olds (and younger. The doormen aren’t all that worried about the age limits), etc.
I have fun with some people, flirting or just being friendly, I annoy at least one set of local girls who take themselves very seriously and cannot imagine why, when I dance, I actually try to move. This disturbs their conversation. I feel truly abashed. (giggle, snort)
Place closes at 5:30 am, I bail out and take a train home. I’m spotted on the way by a Dutch Goth chick that invites me to a Goth party going on Saturday night. I’m still planning on Eindhoven, but if money doesn’t show then I might do the party instead. Rumble in to my friends place around 7 am, sack out, awake and have breakfast with him and another buddy who crashed on the living room floor (I’m making this sound like a flophouse, but it isn’t. My friend tells me he’s had more guests this week than most of this year). Up and at ‘em.
So back to the internet cafe to check email and see what’s up with da cash….
And that’s when I was eaten by Dingoes.
So if the random You were to send a check, written out to me, to Blue, she could take that check and write “For Deposit Only” on the check. Then she could deliver it to the bank and put it in my account, no questions asked.
When I’d called my bank about two weeks ago and complained about the delay in putting checks into the overnight deposit box, they had suggested this method to me. They had assured me that it would work find with any check, including my unemployment check. I told them this was important, since I was looking for work abroad and could not afford to fly home every bloody week.
No problem, they said. We’re from the bank. We’re here to help.
The email I get from Blue tells me that she has nearly been detained for trying this method, and is having just a bit of trouble getting my check in the account. They have informed her that “For Deposit Only” will not work with government checks, because the Government is here to help. Furthermore, they are now suspicious of my signature on the checks, and maybe they should just keep that one.
Blue manages escape and evasion quite well and gets a email off to me, whereupon I begin to demonstrate symptoms of Tourette’s Syndrome.
Once I spit out the bits of plastic from the keyboard I’ve eaten, and once I move to a different computer, and once the security guard calms down, I email Blue back and tell her to not try to deposit the check again. The risk of her ending up in jail isn’t worth it. I’ll go beg from friends.
Boy, do I ever fucking love to beg from friends! That’s so much fun! It’s kind like being a Televangelist!
Seriously, I’ve had to ask friends for help once already when one of my checks (placed in the safety deposit box) was delayed for a week. That was in London, and though I had no choice and friends were willing, I hated doing it. That kind of thing is intensely humiliating to me (and likely most people), and I was beginning to feel like a bozo.
I went into this pretty confident that I could weather any likely storm. I had expected to go into it with about $1700 in buffer in my budget, and was hoping for some money to come in from the sale of one of my guns if needed and from my erstwhile traveling companion (who never showed up) who owed me for the ticket I bought. I wasn’t counting on either of these, but they were cards up my sleeve.
In reality I went in with around $1100 in buffer because I decided to pay off some bills and debts before I left that had been outstanding. Still, $1100 was not sneezing money.
But I lost my first bike, and replacing it was $800+ (I’d said $700 originally, but when I went back and looked at the account deduction it was more). I had a check, for $478, go missing from the safety deposit box. Otherwise I burned through about $300 above my budget, which wasn’t that bad for 6 weeks.
So altogether I was down about $1600. Hmmm…. that’s negative numbers. I had to borrow money, about $600, and used it to pay for my storage unit, stay afloat for that two weeks of scrambled checks, and keep one of my credit cards from detonating.
But this left me with zip in terms of buffer. And that in turn meant I was trying to cover at least the minimum of my payments ($251 for the motorcycle, $150 for one card, $200 for the other, etc) with my unemployment on a week-by-week basis. That brought down the amount of keeper cash out of each check to around $300, which is starting to get seriously hairy in a place like Holland which has an economy like any major metropolitan area in the US. It’s not easy to do that when you have a cheap rent, base of operations, etc. Try it traveling, especially if you refuse to sit around a hostel all day just getting stoned and watching TV.
So logically I made a bad call on replacing the bike, but I don’t think I was unreasonable otherwise in my expectations. I knew that my most vulnerable period would be the first two months, when I was in the most expensive leg of my trip and hadn’t sold the gun yet. Two strokes of bad luck and one questionable decision later and I was screwed.
Still, feel like a yutz.
Before I started to beg however I gave my account one last look to see if there is anything new like a sign saying “Intruder Alert. Terminate on sight!”
In the 15 minutes that has gone by since I got there and read the email (10:30 pm my time, 1:30 pm yours), Blue has gotten the check deposited. Obviously she had written me sometime earlier and then gone ahead and tried again despite the risk of detention and a body cavity search, which falls into the category of “A friend will help you move. A true friend will help you move a body.”
Ok, so I have operating capital, but this is not sustainable any longer. If she’s having to play funny with my signature (she still can’t use “For Deposit only”) she’s risking arrest, and that is not acceptable.
SO I realize I’m going to have to go home. It’s not a good moment.
The next morning, and spending the night heavily sedated, I call the airline and ask about changing my ticket. I’m told, yupper, can do, $150 and we fly you out on Tuesday from A’Dam (Schipol), incidentally on my B’Day. I tell them to hold that thought while I check up on a couple options to see if there’s any way I can still manage to stay here.
My plans don’t pan out, so I call them up Sunday night and repeat my request for a change. The person I talk to this time tells me in no uncertain terms that I cannot change my ticket this way. You see, she tells me, I was destined to fly out of Istanbul, stopover in A’Dam for six hours, then on to Seattle. And since Istanbul is where I’m supposed to fly out, that’s what will happen. No, never mind that I’ll eventually be coming from Istanbul to Amsterdam on my way to Seattle; that has nothing to do with it. I’m not allowed to leave out of anyplace but Istanbul.
We’re from the Airline. We’re here to help.
At this point the bureaucracy is starting to make me homicidal. But I’m here to help.
So I sedate myself again and sleep till Monday, looking forward to a long day of fun trying to figure out how the
What’s life without challenge?
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