March 24, 2016

On Being Nice (Occasionally)

I got three calls from my bank last week. Three. It must be important, I thought, so I called back. Well, I had to pass by to update some account information. Not sure what it was about, but heck, I had an hour off, so I walk to the bank. It’s a 20 minute walk. You better walk, because there is no parking to be found near the bank, and doing it by car is taking you 20 minutes as well. Not a problem. The weather is lovely anyway.

And so I get to the bank.

"Did you sign this paper?” the lady at the counter asks me.
“What paper?”
“To state that you are not American?”

This begs for some explanation. American law (Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act) apparently stipulates that her overseas citizens will have to pay taxes over funds that are in banks abroad. Since about half of the Lebanese population also carries an American passport (this is my estimate, maybe it is because of the circles I frequent but I do not know many Lebanese who do not have a foreign passport, most often an American one), they have asked Lebanese banks to identify their American clients.

 Well, I can vouch for the fact that I am not American, but how the heck would I remember if I signed that paper?

She goes through my file.

“Oh yes, here it is. Yes, you have signed that paper.” And she looks at me, was if she’s waiting for me to say something.
“Okay. So. And now?” I ask.
“Nothing. You have signed it,” she replies.
“Okay. So that’s it?”
“Yes, that is all,” she says with an absolute straight face.
“So you call me to come by the bank to see if I signed a paper that I obviously already signed, according to your files? You could not have checked this before?”

And I was about to go on, but then I thought, ‘today, I will be nice.’
And so I was ‘nice’.

 There are many battles to pick. This was not one of them. And so I leave you with a picture I took some weeks ago, and that I wanted to post, but I could not really find a hook.

Friends on defunct rail road bridge

I thought it would make a lovely album cover. I had some folky type of music in mind. This would imply that we would first have to form a band, and write some music. Have some music written for us would be a better description. And then we’d have to learn how to sign. Also quite important. As this is not going to happen in our time, I just leave you with the album cover, and with the thought, that sometimes in life, one just has to be breath in and think ‘be nice’.

The bridge looks nice without us as well.
Quite proud of myself today. 


Marjolein Ridderbos said...

You're so nice!

Anonymous said...

Yup, that law really exists. Imagine if you were American and married to someone who's not... in some cases, that stupid law would require you to disclose your spouse's assets (and their business' assets) to the US government. Thousands of Americans have decided to renounce their citizenship rather than face marital strife over something so ridiculous.

All that aside, that clerk was a jerk.