Tuesday

the beginning of the end

I paid the rent today for the last time. While I was doing so, I was reminded of all the steps I will miss about the process. In the U.S, we will probably pay for housing with a check or an automatic withdrawal. Boring. Here, it's a bit different.

1. Go to an ATM to get out the maximum amount of cash allowed per day. The rent must be paid in cash because US checks take a few months to process. We must pay in dollars because . . . actually I don't know why they want us to pay in dollars and not colones.

2. Drive to the office of the company that owns our building. The mail barely exists and is not an option. Even if it did, what fool would put a wad of cash in an envelope and mail it?

3. Talk to the financial dude at the office and try to figure out how much I owe. After we had lived in our place for a year, the rent went up 5%. When it did, the amount landed at an unround $X72.50. Because I can only take out 2os from the ATM, I have to pay with $X80. Because they never have $7.50 in exact change, I usually pay more one week and less the next to even it out. Since today was the last time, we had to figure out exact change. Of course, he didn't have change, so he handed me back one of the 20s, told me to break it and bring back $12.50 later on in the week. Where else does that happen in the civilized world?

Will I be able to adjust to a culture where paying rent is a regulated process, or where the amount you pay for groceries does not depend on the cashier's mental computation abilities, or where my change is not rounded because small denominations of money actually exist, or where I always pay for things with only one currency, or where I don't get charged $17 to walk into a bank and make a withdrawal?

Warning: This is probably just the first of several reflective "last time" posts.