Thursday, July 30, 2009

Giddy with the efficiency of it all

Day 30...

Today was a good day in some key ways. At one point I was what one might call "giddy".

Today I had two goals - set up our YMCA membership, which required the routing number from our checking account. I also delivered a tax document to the state of North Carolina in an overnight delivery mode.

In India, dealing with a bank *and* an organization that you want to join all in the same day is a daunting task. The chaotic lines (or lack of lines) at the bank followed and the requests for "a passport size photo" can mean that you get nothing done and must spend time on the phone for days on end trying to get done that which you want to get done. Often it never happens. Or at least not easily.

Here, everywhere I went they had a process that they had thought through that could help me. At the Bank I explained that we don't have checks for our checking account because we have been overseas. The woman explained that they have a form for that scenario and she would be glad to print out a form with our account's routing number. She did so, and I was then armed with the document that I needed.

Then I went to the Harris YMCA to register the family for membership. I explained that we would be joining after not being members for two years. She said, "Let me look for you in the system> Ah, yes, we still have a record of you. Tara, Liam, Aidan and Jonah will also be joining? Great. Let's pro-rate tomorrow's fee for July, pay August in full and then you can pay the membership fee. You can start going to any area YMCA tomorrow morning." Debit card came out, got swiped and we were done.

She then read the form from the Bank and said, "Yes, we can use this in lieu of a canceled check and we will auto-draft your monthly payment on the first of every month. You're all set."

At this point I was sort of laughing inside. Could this really all be happening like this? You mean I didn't need to have a photo of each family member? You mean there is no old guy that I needed to meet with after sitting outside of his office for two hours? And where, may I ask, are all of the rubber stamps??

Wow. That easy?

Then, I went to the US Postal Service and stood in line. That alone was a pleasure. But the greatest part was that although the line fed into two women sitting at the front of the office, there was a third guy walking up the each customer in the line and asking what it was that they needed. As we explained, one by one, what our need was, he recommended that we either stay in line or come with him. I was brought out of the line and given special service, as my document needed to be sent overnight.

He pulled me aside and explained what form to fill out, gave me the routing number for the package and explained that I could track it online. He also said, "We commit that the package will arrive no later than 11:48 tomorrow."

"Great, are we done?" I asked.

"Yup, you're all set."

At this point I couldn't contain my smile. You mean you won't hold onto the package for a day for no apparent reason?

It just kept getting better.

Now, I am not disparaging India. It's just that India and the US are greatly contrasted in their understanding of who is the customer and what the customer expects and deserves.

So, as we deal with an emotional roller coaster called repatriation, we look for whatever we can to feel happy about.

Yesterday had some really nice attributes.