Monday, June 15, 2009

Night Before School

We've gotten Lizzie's school taken care of, including a bus service to and from the apartment. The bus service was a bit dicey, because the line that the school uses primarily doesn't go where we live. But Beng, superwoman that she is, called another number given to her by the school as a good bet, and now a Mr. Carlito Padilla will pick up Lizzie at 11:00 AM and bring her home after her classes are over at 5:30 PM. Praise Jesus!

We've paid part of the tuition (I owe P28,500 more, which I will have to take out in P10,000 installments from bank machines over the next weeks and deliver to the school), and bought some of the books. We also found out that on Fridays Lizzie's expected to "dress up," so we got two dressier outfits and a nice pair of shoes (that cover her toes). We've also invested in the usual mountain of school supplies, everything from 10 notebooks to a stapler and staples.

In the process of doing all this, I managed to put my credit card into the banking machine, oh my, and was told "incorrect PIN." Yeah. After the moment that my stomach plunged into my feet and then rebounded (when I thought that for sure my bank card had stopped working suddenly and I was back to square one, a place I hate to be), I was okay. I sucked my hair back into my scalp, put the debit card in, and was good to go.

Some of you are no doubt thinking: this will come back to bite you in the rear. And of course it did.

After we got home and unloaded, I decided to get some of my cardio exercise today by walking down to the office, picking up my class lists for tomorrow, and dropping off my syllabi. I turned on the wireless in Butch's office and fired up the laptop, eager to check my emails.

There was an email from Bank of America--suspicious activity on my card. Click on this link or call this toll-free number at once. So I clicked on the link. It wanted my card number. Could that be kosher? I got out of there. Tried to log onto my Bank of America accoutn to deal with the problem there. "This account may not be serviced online at this time." Mount Shasta! I fired up Skype and called the international number on the back of my credit card.

I got a really terrible connection, disjointed, as if someone somewhere were flapping the airwaves and disturbing the sound. Someone answered and then Skype hung up on me. I called back. This time I got a real human being right away--and after asking me for all the information regarding my account, including my number, the last four digits of my SS number, and my favorite TV shows (exaggeration, but that's what it feels like), in a fractured wavy way she asked me to hold.

Fifteen minutes later (Skype so helpfully counts them for you, as it subtracts it from your balance), I was connected again to a real human being. I could hardly hear her, but I clung to the sound of her voice the way a drowning woman in the ocean might cling to the last oar from the sunken lifeboat. After asking me another battery of questions, including the last place where I used my card, she said that she'd "reset" my card and I was good to go. I was asking her to send me a PIN number for the credit card--to my home address in WI--when, shazam, she faded out.

And then I couldn't connect to the internet at all. I kept getting the message that I had "low or no connectivity" and no matter how many times I reconnected, I got the same message. The fixer-thingee told me that the network wasn't giving me an IP address. Ew.

So I packed everything up and wandered out to the English office, thinking maybe this failure to connect was universal--to allay my paranoia, mostly. And, indeed, the women in the office were milling about with vacant, confused looks on their faces, and their computers were showing blank screens, so I told myself to stop spinning like a top and settle down.

In the meantime, I met a young man who's beginning his first semester of teaching at the University--4 sections of composition, at 28-30 students a pop! Holy macaroni, Batman! I guess I've got it cuuuuushhhhy. Of course, after talking to him for about 10 minutes in animated fashion, I only remember his given name (Francis) and not his nickname. Errrrr. And that he's a Jr. and doesn't like it. And that he wants to go to Brown University to study American culture. "The students at Brown are apparently the happiest in the nation," he said.

"Is this the first time you'll be teaching Filipino students?" he wondered.

"Yes," I said.

The look on his face was kind but mildly apprehensive.

"I've taught some diverse students at the University of Arizona," I said, reassuring myself more than anyone else.

"Well, this is a rather homogenous bunch here," he said, despite his claim earlier that he likes teaching at the UP because it's more diverse. "You've got the whole swath of the Philippines at this university," he said. (He's a graduate of Ateneo, the Catholic university across the street where Cynch's husband teaches Economics.)

"I'll probably be the biggest curiosity, then," I said.

"You'll be the 'other,'" he laughed.

I just wish this 'other' could remember his nickname. It's Ag-something. Two syllables. Ugh.

I just checked with Bank of America online (paranoid) and it does seem that I can access my account again. Phew.

Now off to watch two more episodes of Buffy.


  1. Continued credit card issues are draining, but I am happy Lizzie's getting to start school. She'll meet new friends, or at least acquaintances, and get to learn some interesting things to blog. Like, what do kids eat for lunch, and what is the classroom environment like.
    Hang in there tighty whitey.

  2. Dave, you should take the quiz. I wonder what sort of underwear YOU are?