Sunday, April 6, 2014

Banking on America - Massachusetts and São Paulo

Bank branch. Not mine.

I had to run into a bank branch in Winchester, MA,  to get a cashier's check. I was carrying two large bags, my cell phone and lunch. I was greeted at the door by a friendly lady who asked me how she could help, and then she led me over to the bank of three tellers who were waiting to help me out. It was hard to choose which one to wake up.  She also told me about the bank's mortgage products just in case I needed some help with that (I had mentioned that I was making an offer on a house). 

I chatted with the teller while she typed up the check. Turns out she had visited Brazil once and loved it and we had a couple of minutes of fun in the banal check-getting process. Then we were off with check in hand--the whole event took about 5 minutes.

My most recent experience in Brazil with a certain Spanish bank with a red sign (incidentally, they appear to be invading the USA--there were branches everywhere) was quite a bit different. First of all, I parked three blocks away because the bank charges for parking, which is absurd. Shopping malls also charge for parking in Brazil. Also absurd. 

When I came into the outer lobby, I pretty much had to shed everything but my underwear. No umbrella, no bag, no cell phone, no keys. I got looked over by the black-clad Ninja security officer. I had to explain what I needed two times to the receptionist (in spite having been there several times in the prior weeks doing the exact same thing) and then he left me waiting for about 7 minutes. This was to get an envelope in the internal mail from one bank to the other. 

Glad I wasn't looking for a check--the line for that would have been at least 20 minutes. I did not ask about mortgage products either. While I will continue to say that Brazil's internet banking is much more advanced than American, the bank branch system is not. 

Also, Bank of America gives out lollipops. Down the street at Winchester Cooperative Bank they serve coffee and donuts every Saturday and according to my friend who lives there (Winchester, not inside the bank), it is quite the social event. There is always a policeman in the lobby at WCB--apparently they were robbed 25 years ago and they just don't want to take any chances. 

I shall not make the obvious donut-cop jokes. I do, of course, want to show up there one Saturday. I love donuts!