by Melinda Gallo

Getting introduced at the bank

At first I thought maybe this is how they do things in Italy. Three out of three friends told me that they'll take me to a bank and introduce me. I figured they would escort me to the bank, introduce me to their banker, and then the banker would help me open an account offering me plenty of benefits.

My friend Simone came over today and he kept telling me how he wanted to introduce me to his banker. Sure, but so did Debora, whose brother works at the bank in Piazza della Signoria, and Marta who works with a credit card company and knows all the banks in town. And, I didn't even ask my other friend Rossana who works at a bank in Sesto-Fiorentino.

Simone walked me and his bike to the bank. We arrived in front where there are lockers to put your purse and bags. We put our stuff in the same locker and he took the key. As we went through the turn-style door, I got stopped and was told by a machine that I had metal on me. I pulled out my keys from my pocket and had to get another locker to put those in, but of course, then I had the key to the locker. I somehow got through the door and Simone walked toward one of the back offices.

No one was there, so he asked someone at the counter. "E' in ferie." (He's on holiday.) Simone assured me that I should come to the bank now because later it'll be really busy.

He was told to go see another woman who was sitting in her cubicle. The woman told us to wait and we stood there and chatted. When the woman was ready she told us to have a seat. Simone told her that the man who takes care of him is away and he wanted to introduce me.

He told her that I was a straniera (foreigner), which is not the best way to break the ice, and that I'd like to get information about opening an account. Upon hearing that I was a straniera, the woman asked him if I had a permesso di soggiorno. Simone looked at me and I realized it was my queue to speak. I told her that I have a permesso di soggiorno and residency in Florence although I don't have my carta d'identità (identity card).

She began to explain to both of us the two types of accounts they can offer me. Simone left to go do something else and she continued to talk to me.

She explained how the bank has one account for stranieri (foreigners) and another for residenti (residents). I had already opened an account before in Italy and I knew that not much had changed. Although, now at least they tell you that if you want to close your account, it'll cost you 40 Euros!

After she printed out some pages from her computer, I thanked her, and told her I'd think about it.

So, I'm not completely sure why my friends want to take me to the bank to open an account with me when I'm fully capable of doing it all alone. And besides, nothing that didn't happen the last two times I did it when I lived here in 1998 has changed.

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