by Melinda Gallo

No one accepts checks?

When I opened my bank account here, I told the woman that I wanted a checkbook. "Non ne hai bisogno. Nessun accetta assegni." (You don't need it. No one accepts checks.), she said. And then, when I ordered some rimedi omeopatici (homeopathic remedies), I found out that the guy doesn't accept credit cards and didn't want a check, but he told me to go to Le Poste (the Post Office) and send him a vaglia (postal order).

After I received the package on Saturday, I finally made it to Le Poste (the Post Office) to send him a vaglia. I had heard about these vaglie before as someone I know once wanted to repay me money I owed them with one, but I didn't know how it worked, and still really don't.

I found the modulo (form) on the little table that had a bunch of different ones after I picked my numero (number). There weren't many people in Le Poste, so I was filling out the modulo when my numero was called. I ran up to the sportello (window), but the woman helped the next woman whose number was after mine. I stood close by and waved my numero at the woman as soon as her customer left, so she would help me.

She gestured me to come to the sportello. I hadn't had the time to finish filling out the modulo, but I handed it to her anyway. She couldn't read my writing very well and I had to tell her the correct last name of the person I was sending the money to. She asked me for my date of birth, and then she asked, "Dove sei nata...a Firenze?" (Where were you born...in Florence?) I told her California and she wrote it on the modulo for me.

She asked me a few times what I wrote and then said, "Te non scrivi tanto bene." (You don't write very well.) "Lo so...lavoro troppo sul computer." (I know, I work too much on the computer.), I responded.

She asked me for my codice fiscale (tax number) and instead of writing it down for her, I just handed her my card.

She entered everything on her computer and then it wouldn't accept my codice fiscale because it said my place of birth was incorrect. I gave her the city, the state, and the country, but nothing worked.

She went to ask one of her colleghi (colleagues) who said that she should just select the option that says that I'm not a resident in Italy. She began that process and then asked me for an address outside of Italy. "Ma se c'è un problema, dove mi mandano la lettera?" (But, if there's a problem, where will they send me the letter?), I said. She looked up at me and then yelled back to her collega, "Ha ragione lei...se c'è un problema come si fa?" (She's right...if there's a problem how will that work?)

She retried again and again with the previous data, changing my place of birth to the city only, the state, the country, and then back to the city. She had to enter "Stati Uniti d'Americ," missing the last letter "a" for the country of birth because it wouldn't all fit. I didn't think much of it, but then I told her, "Forse non funziona perché manca la lettera "a" nel nome del mio paese." (Maybe it's not working because the letter "a" in the name of my country is missing.)

Her collega came out and said, "Non lo so. Non funziona solo per le persone che vengono dagli Stati Uniti." (I don't know. It only doesn't work for people from the US.) "Funziona per la Romania per esempio," (It works for Romania for example), he added. "Sì, ma il nome del mio paese è più lungo e ci manca una lettera." (Yes, but the name of my country is longer and it's missing a letter.) "Può darsi." (Maybe), he said.

In the end, the woman selected the option that said that I wasn't a resident in Florence, but then inserted my local address. Her collega helped her through each of the screens, and I was finally able to send the vaglia. I'm sure it would have been easier had I been born in a country with a shorter name and if my penmanship would've been better too.

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