Well, here I sit at Bowle & Bowling, listening to the rumble and clatter of the bowling balls, and a feeling of normalcy is starting to come over me. I can pay rent.
Even the last chapter of my adventure was not as straightforward as I had hoped. The credit card people told me, “you can get cash from any bank with a Visa sign on the door.” This, it turns out, is not true. Not at all. Not even close. What she should have said was, “It’s possible there’s a bank in Prague that will advance you cash on your card, but good luck finding it.”
I started my two-day quest in my own neighborhood, at the largest and fanciest bank. As usual in my neighborhood no english was spoken there, but we communicated surprisingly well. “I need money,” I said in Czech. I didn’t know how to say “cash advance” in Czech, and credit cards are so rarely used here that it wouldn’t surprise me if the bank lady didn’t know the word either. “You can’t use the bankomat?” she asked. “No, it’s an emergency card,” I explained. She thought for a moment. “I’m sorry,” she said. “I can’t help you. I don’t think any bank can.”
I canvassed the rest of the neighborhood and got the same story. It was getting late so I decided to try another approach. I would call my bank and see if they could issue me a PIN so I could restore all the happy ATM-ness to my card.
Naturally, that turned out to be complicated. Then my Internet connection went down, leaving me Skype-less.
Back on the street again today, an earlier start, knowing that I was going to have to go down to the city center to have any hope of success, and I would probably have to visit a currency exchange. There are plenty of them on Wenceslas square and thereabouts. I wandered up and down the street, window shopping. I noticed that the rates most places advertised were for very large amounts; the normal-human rate was much worse. Luckily (an odd sort of luck, I must say), I will be needing a lot of money, so I found the best rate at a 0% commission place and went on in.
After a little confusion because I said “hundred” instead of “ten” we got the deal squared away. “There will be a commission,” the woman said.
I thought of saying things like, “but your sign says…” but I knew it wouldn’t help, and I knew it would be the same everywhere. No commission on currency exchanges. Credit card: get ready to bend over. If asked they would probably say that they have added expenses and whatnot, and there’s a risk of fraud they have to factor in. In reality, it’s because people getting cash off their credits cards are all desperate schmucks like me. I was tired. I just wanted to be finished with this whole mess. I bent over.
This is officially the last time I think about how much I just spent to get my own money.
Now, no more worries! Now I have money, enough for me to cover rent and some of the expenses of filming, and I have time to find another conduit for the rest. Back on my feet, baby!