Friday, February 27, 2009

Blind leading the blind

Yesterday Tetsu's mother called and wanted Tetsu to take her to the bank. Being that it was Thursday he certainly wasn't available but I happened to have the day off so I offered to take her.

When Tetsu and I were dating I'm sure his mother wondered where he'd found this foreigner. He couldn't speak English, hadn't been overseas. The bullet train didn't extend to the city we were living in so there were very few foreigners around at all.

When we decided to get married Tetsu's mother took it all in stride and there were a few months that we even lived together. She was and is a perfectionist at housecleaning and this was an area where neither of us understood each other. She'd be cleaning the insides of appliances with a toothbrush and I didn't even know you could get inside appliances like that! I wasn't much of a cook either and because my cooking repertoire was limited to things with cheese and macaroni, she often made her own meal. Our months of living together gratefully ended (for both of us) when Tetsu was transferred to another city.

Although we now live in the next city over, Tetsu's mother resists coming to visit us because she isn't too fond of animals and since my cleaning skills haven't improved she can't bear to see all the cat fur on the furniture. Tetsu and I will visit her on weekends and I will occasionally surprise her with a visit. The last time I took Chip over with me which horrified and delighted her at the same time!

Yesterday Obaachan (Grandma) needed me to drive her to the bank, help her get from the car to the buildings (she doesn't see well and doesn't walk well either) and help her get money out of her account and put it into another bank. The blind leading the blind.

We had to make three stops at three banks and attempted to do bank business on the ATMs. Obaachan doesn't like these machines but the banks ask you to try using the ATM before you go to the counter. The ATM touch top screens are hard for Obaachan to see and as she runs her finger along the screen trying to find the right button the computer inside goes crazy and flashes messages at us to redo whatever she's done since she's touched too much of the surface at one time.

"Obaachan, let me try. What to do you want to do?"

Not that telling me helps very much. I don't like these machines either. One great feature is that they will speak English to you but Obaachan didn't want us to use an "English speaking machine". So I tried figuring out the Chinese characters for all the processes available which took some time and resulted in errors. Finally someone in the bank came out from behind the counter to help us. Yep. The blind leading the blind.

Then on to the second bank and then on to the third bank with a repeat of the challenges. ATM machines are different at every bank.

We rewarded ourselves with steaming bowls of Chinese noodles and sweet bean pancakes for lunch. Obaachan is probably not going to ask me to help her at the bank again.

And Obaachan wouldn't let me take her picture yesterday ("I didn't paint in my eyebrows.") so here is one I took of her when Takumi was visiting last summer.


Shasta said...

I think next time you should just go in and talk to the tellers. If they protest, you can just refer them to this blog post to show them you've already tried using the ATMs.

Janet C said...

I empathize with you on the tellers. Sometimes, I wonder what their job descriptions are - isn't one of their tasks is to give assistance to customers, instead of just directing the customers to the ATM machines!

Guzzisue said...

too many machines, not enough humans to help with basic tasks in banks these days, sad reflection of the world today. Sometimes just paying in over the counter is an elderly persons only contact with a person that day, unfortunately machines don't smile and say thank you.

rant over :-)

The Calico Quilter said...

My petty rant is the differences between the ATMs, and between all the credit card swipe machines in every grocery, pharmacy and discount store. Anywhere you swipe the card yourself and sign the stupid pad with a stylus. I want them all standardized! So that every one has the same button layout and works the same way. You feel so stupid standing there hunting for the right response. It doesn't have to be in another language to be confusing!

I admit that I can be very impatient with people, and that includes older people. I try to remind myself that after they reach that age, they have a right to be as cranky as they want to. We have no idea how they feel or how difficult things are for them. My mom has foibles too, and I try my hardest to just "let it go" and not get cranky right back at her!