I think everyone has an internal “panic button,” which when pressed sets us into a frenzy. It helps us vent our angst when faced with tough situations, but on the whole, it just causes a lot of needless anxiety and stress. After learning that my debit card was lost, I felt myself reaching for that panic button. What was I going to do? How was I going to get any money? What if the card was stolen? But I stopped myself. I needed to keep my cool. I counted up my cash: €0.59. Fair enough. I could use my credit card for the necessities. As for the ATM card, it most likely wasn’t stolen. I probably left it in the ATM machine in Granada. Even still, I checked my account online and confirmed that there was no unusual activity. I also jotted down the Citibank international customer service number. Then early this morning I set out for the Citibank branch I had passed by last night. Someone there could sort things out for me.
I arrived at the bank to find it closed. I took another long look at the posted business hours: Lunes (Monday) a Viernes (Friday) 8:30am to 2:00pm. I didn’t get it. Why were they closed? Time to panic? No. I found a phone booth and dialed the Citibank international service number. The bank’s website had claimed I could call collect, but it’s not true. I dialed directly from my cell phone, hoping that I wouldn’t run out of minutes during the call. A man at an Indian call center answered the phone. I explained my issue to him and gave him my social security number. He put me on hold. I could feel my cell phone minutes counting down. The man came back. He needed my account number. I didn’t have it. He couldn’t help me. I hung up. The frustration was creeping in. There was only one thing to do: I had to go to Starbucks. I had seen one on my way to the phone. I needed to eat breakfast, and I could count on Starbucks to accept credit cards. I would reassess my situation on a full stomach.
I ate a hearty meal at Starbucks comprised of a turkey sandwich, a chocolate chip cookie, and a frappuccino. During breakfast I recalled that I had some account information on my USB flash drive. My Citibank account number might be on it as well. If so, I could take down the info and call Citibank back. I asked the barista at the counter if there were any computer/internet places nearby.
Sure, she said, just walk down the street for two blocks and make a left. But they’re probably closed because of the holiday.
Sure, she said, Ferriado.
Well that explained why Citibank was closed. I scanned the coffee shop and spotted a couple hunched over a computer. I could trek all the way back to the hostel to use a computer there or I could ask them to use theirs and save myself the trouble. I approached the couple.
The guy’s name is Jason. He’s an American from California. An Army man, he’s getting his MBA right now, and he’s traveling during summer break. The girl’s name is Natalia, Naty for short. She lives and works in Valencia, but she’s originally from Argentina. The two just met a few days ago and struck up a friendship. They were grabbing some coffee before Jason headed off to Paris. Jason let me use his computer, and though I wasn’t able to find my account number or access the internet (no WiFi), I did find the pin number for my other bank card. I have very little money in this account, but it should be enough to tide me over until I resolve my Citibank issue. Jason, Naty, and I ended up talking for a long time, and I walked with them to the Metro station. Before we parted, Naty gave me her cell phone number and told me to call her if I wanted to go to the beach later.
I returned to the hostel, spread out my €0.59 on the front desk, and asked the receptionist for some internet time. The cost is actually €1, so I was €0.41 short. I think the woman felt sorry for me though because she returned my paltry offering and gave me 30 minutes of internet time free of charge. I dug up the info I needed from my account online, telephoned Citibank, and several minutes later, everything was taken care of. They would cancel my old card and send me a new one to my US address. In the meantime, I could get an emergency card from the Valencia Citibank branch.
Then I called up my new friend, Naty, and she, her brother, and I spent the rest of the day at the Valencia beach.