The Grand Tour, Nightmare in Arras

I have a French credit card (insert tooth sucking noise). So when I stuck my carte bancaire into the little slot in the ATM of Credit Agricole (my bank), in the city of Arras in Haute Normandie where we had stopped to have lunch, it was only with the vague trepidation that I generally have about everything but doubled because I am on vacation in Europe where trepidations double. I wasn’t expecting disaster exactly.

The thing ate my card. Yes, of course. It went in and then nothing. It did nothing. It acted as if I wasn’t there which I know is very French but my card was missing and now I was in trouble. In the US this would not have been such a problem since in the US: 1) Banks are open on Mondays. 2) I have other resources there. 3) I can speak English—my French is limited to mild, soothing situations that involved wine and bread and possibly kittens. 4) French people for the most part really don’t care.

Fortunately there was a branch office, not a bank, but an office down the street that, oddly, was open on a Monday though I have no idea why. There was only one person in the place doing nothing that I could see. But, tant pis, she didn’t care, there’s a shocker. I explained that I had no other resources in France (not really true exactly but she didn’t know that) and she said it was a problem of security. I should say her level of concern did rise with my level of distress but that may possibly have been simply my poor French coupled with her inability to actually understand me with my hands fluttering around as they were. There was nothing to be done about it. I would have to return tomorrow. This would mean a 2 hour return trip from Rouen, leaving at 7 I could get there at 9 when they open and I could have my card back. Providing they actually gave me my card back. And get back to Rouen before noon. Fun!

In the meantime Ashish walked back down to the ATM. And, miracle of miracles, it was doing something, like 10 minutes later, it appeared to be thinking. But then it asked if I wanted to cancel the transaction. And then 5 minutes or so after that, the card came out.

Security my ass.