Posts Tagged “ATM”

I took this picture at my bank while waiting in the lobby.

This poster explains how the bank’s ATM lottery works. Instead of cash, you’re basically using the funds in your account to withdraw lottery tickets, which pop out of the same slot.

I’m not sure if this would be illegal in the US (Can banks get a gambling license? There’s a scary thought.), but even if they could I can’t imagine a bank ever doing it because at best the gambling association would seem in especially bad taste after the recent financial sector turmoil.

At worst, I could see people getting the idea that their money isn’t safe in a bank that likes to promote gambling.

I haven’t noticed the bank gambling away my money, though perhaps that’s why Japanese banks don’t pay interest on deposits. 😉

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Yesterday was an interesting day. After a sleepless night of chills and sweats (which was repeated last night as well), I woke up with a fever of 37.9°C, and begged off work (and a party tonight I’d been looking forward to for months).

Yuko happened to already have a doctor’s appointment in the morning, so I went with, to see if they could fit me in. The doctor was delighted to have an opportunity to use his English, and even though he apologized multiple times for his poor skills, I had no trouble understanding him. (Doctors here all have to learn more English than the average person, I’m pretty sure it’s because medical record-keeping is all done in English.)

I noticed something other people have observed too; because Japanese doctors don’t speak English in their daily lives, they use technical terms for everything. For instance, when he wanted me to breathe in and out, he asked me to “inspire and expire,” and though the phrase isn’t as unusual in clinical settings, he also explained that he was going to “palpate [my] lymph nodes.”

He then gave me a really unpleasant flu test that involved swabbing my throat with a long flexible plastic swab designed to scrub your throat just below your tongue. After nearly throwing up on him a few times, he used the swab on what looked like a pregnancy test (the same test pictured above left with someone else’s results). Even though I didn’t test positive for influenza A or B, he suggested it was a false positive because it was still pretty early, and prescribed me a small battery of drugs, including Tamiflu.

When I went to pay for my visit and prescriptions (a total of about $35, thanks to my government-run insurance), I discovered that I didn’t have enough cash on me to pay the bill. Like most Japanese businesses, cash is all they accept. They very nicely pointed me toward the nearest Ehime Ginko ATM (there isn’t really any meaningful ATM interoperability, so you generally have to use ATMs owned by your bank), and even had me take the drugs though I hadn’t yet paid for anything.

On the upside though, it was a great day for exotic JDM Subaru spotting. On the way to the doctor’s office, I saw an early 2000s Legacy B4 Blitzen, the result of a collaboration between Porsche and Subaru. Then on the way to the ATM, I saw a (2004?) Impreza S203, basically a super souped-up factory STi.

I hope I can sleep well tonight and wake up sans-fever.

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I just had a humbling experience at the bank.

As you may or may not know, I’m a rather independent person. Much to my mother’s chagrin, I used to take lots of things apart when I was young, just so I could see how they worked and put them back together. I like not having to rely on other people’s help to fix things, or get stuff done, you know?

In fact, part of my motivation for coming to Japan was that it would force me out of my comfort zone- because I knew I wouldn’t understand Japanese life, I knew I would be “off balance” and have to figure many things out anew. When I first arrived, I quickly discovered that you can’t have pride if you don’t understand your surroundings; you need to be willing to ask for help and rely on the kindness of strangers.

After living here for almost a year and a half though, you get into the routine of daily life, and it’s easy to forget the helplessness that was at first a daily experience.

Anyway, I recently completed the registration process for a GoLloyd’s account. It’s commonly recognized as the cheapest way to send money home, but I’d put off the signup process for a long time because it involves mailing copies of your passport and alien registration card to their headquarters in Tokyo with your application form. With the welcome packet, I received general instructions on how to transfer money using GoLloyd’s, and some pertinent terms in Japanese. Armed with their instructions and list of kanji, I went to my local bank to use an ATM to send some money, and quickly realized I was in over my head.

Japanese ATMs are wondrous pieces of machinery (one of which is pictured above), allowing you to complete all manner of transactions, including the inter-bank transfer I needed to do. Unfortunately, only a few ATMs have English menus, and only for basic functions. I fuddled my way around the menu system for a few minutes and got about halfway through the process while a bank employee stood about eight feet behind me, waiting to see if I needed help. I eventually gave up and tried to ask her, but ended up at a teller window after a brief wait in line. The teller then walked me back to the lobby attendant and asked her to help me do the transfer using the ATM. All semblance of self-reliance now gone, she read in Japanese from the help page GoLloyd’s sent (thank goodness they included Japanese instructions- written specifically to Japanese bank staff to help confused gaijin) and walked me through the process. I tried to follow along, but there were too many menus in kanji I didn’t understand, and knew I wouldn’t be able to repeat the process.

I’d heard that getting a separate ATM card specifically for transfers simplifies the process, so after the transfer was done, I asked her about getting one (so I could hopefully be self-reliant in the future). She kindly walked me back to the ATM and showed me that my ATM card stored the transfer settings for future use, making it even simpler than having a separate card for transfers. I thanked her profusely and left the bank.

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