Happy Monday, You’re Broke.

My Monday morning started off bright and early. I ran out of the house at 6:20, 20 minutes earlier than normal, as I needed to buy my monthly public transportation pass and stop by the office to make some copies. 

I was oddly chipper considering I had only slept for four hours. I stayed up way too late last night in order to complete last week’s lesson plans that I had put off all weekend because I was volunteering. And building a to-scale model of the Empire State Building out of Legos. And various other highly important tasks that most certainly were not watching back seasons of The Amazing Race for eight hours straight and drinking wine in my pajamas. 


In my defense, I did also clean the flat, meet a friend, and actually finish all my laundry. So… yeah.

Anyway, I ran over to the tram stop and ordered up my 31-day pass. Stick my bank card in, nothing. “Insufficient balance.” What the crap? No way. There’s no way in hell I have less than the 62€ pass price in there. But no time to try again because the tram is here. The only option is to jump on, as I have to get to the office before I go to class. So I got on the tram. 

To be clear, I never – I mean never – pull the Schwarzfahren thing in Germany. If you aren’t familiar with the term, it means ‘black rider’ and it’s what they call people who don’t pay for tickets. If they catch you there is a fine, but worse than that, they publicly shame you by making a scene. I’ve seen it happen and it is unpleasant. But this morning I really didn’t have a choice. I got the tram, prayed for no ticket checkers (they love Monday mornings) and figured I’d try and get my ticket when I got over to Plärrer. 

Run up to the office, make my copies, run back down to the U-Bahn. Try again, still no luck. Now I’m really confused. I didn’t have time to try and get cash, but luckily I had my Visa on me and used that with no problem. Weird. 

Get on the tram again and sit there doing mental math all the way to the end of the line. Continue mental math, incorporating fingers and the cell phone calculator. Even with the worst case scenario, there is no way I spent even close to what should be in the bank. This leaves me with a few possible scenarios:

  1. My card number was stolen and someone went all crazy-like.
  2. My rent posted multiple times. Somehow when I paid my January rent, it was taken out twice. My landlord let me know right away and we decided to just count that as February. Not a big problem, but maybe it happened again.
  3. Money got taken out for taxes. I’m still trying to figure out how this thing works here, but maybe they just take it as a direct debit. Hm, did I put bank information on that Finanzamt form? Is it possible that they would just take money without notifying me, or without me having to do some additional paperwork? I have no idea. 
  4. I’ve bought a lot more wine and packaged soups than I thought since I’ve been back. I did buy fancy veggies and a 9€ bottle of wine last week at Karstadt. That’s like, 2-3 times more than I usually spend on wine. Normally I keep track of expenses in Quicken, but I haven’t done it since before I left for the States. I have a big stack of receipts here, I’ve just been doing other things. Like volunteering. And the Lego Empire State Building thing. *coughs*

So I spent all day at work in a state of light panic. The mental math continued all day, and I couldn’t even enjoy the lunch break I actually got today. (Normally I teach straight from 8-3 and don’t get to eat until I get home at 4:30; but my third lesson today was cancelled so I got to hit the local Bäckerei and actually eat at a semi-normal time. Digression!) But like I said, it was hard to enjoy as I was too busy worrying about if I was spending four of my last Euros. Really though, I had no choice as I’d drunk a huge cup of coffee during my commute/first lesson and needed something solid in my stomach or I was going to tweak before I got home. 

Finally get home and log onto the bank. I’m no Donald Trump, but the account was definitely not empty. Plus our February checks were deposited today. So no idea what was going on today. Hoping it was a machine issue and not a card issue, as I really don’t want to deal with trying to get a new bank card. The people at the bank are very nice, but only one guy speaks any English and it’s touch-and-go there. I guess tomorrow’s project will be to try and withdraw from an ATM and pay at the supermarket or something. I am out of wine and all.

In summary: I got myself all worked up today over nothing, and let my imagination run away with me. I blame lack of sleep. And too much time spent volunteering. Yep, that’s what I was doing all weekend. Don’t judge me.  

4 thoughts on “Happy Monday, You’re Broke.

  1. I can relate to that sense of panic and wtf-ery… I tried to get money out of my own bank card at least a dozen times when I first got here before I figured out that my funds were still frozen in international transit. Lots of “I have plenty of money, why can't I get to it?” conversations were had.

    It's stressful, yo.

  2. I have had lots of horrific moments with German banking. It's so stressful, and I find it so embarrassing when I am in a shop buying something relatively small and my card gets refused. I have had at least 10 EC cards in my two years here. I know, I know, it's my cheap jewellery and bag to blame – well that's what the bank told me.

    Given the wealth of my experience, the problem may be that your cheque hasn't cleared and that could be why they have maybe made an error and frozen the whole lot. Or, like the bank says, it could be your fault, not theirs. 🙂

    Looking forward to seeing your lego project completed. I think I have seen those in the Lego shop: I quite fancied the Guggenheim.

  3. @Steven: Lots of wtf-ery. Just not the best thing at 6am on a Monday.

    @Alyx: Whoopsie! Haha.

    @Fiona: Oh man, I hope this isn't a sign that my card is burning out or something. I don't want to go through the rigamarole of getting a new card. I do have a penchant for cheap jewelry so maybe that's doing me in!

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