So I finally opened a bank account after 4 months.. A bit late but I didn’t see any need to operate one and I wasn’t working. I chose Chase bank as I think I’ve seen enough of their ATMs all over town.
First shock..I walked into a branch near where I live and was surprised to see less than 3 customers waiting..This is America, no one comes to the bank. You can even deposit by ‘drive thru’. They have these vacuum tubes in the drive thru that suck the cash and receipts to the real cashier inside the branch..funny stuff I tell you.
So they tell me I need proof of residence to open an account. I didn’t have it with me. Had to return later with my green card and driver’s license. Then they asked for my consent to run a credit check on my social security to see if I’ve been involved in banking fraud activities or haven’t paid loans with other banks here.
I don’t know if the rules are different for Chase but they are pretty strict on how you can transact with them. No cash deposits by other people into your account, cash deposits by self with a photo ID, how often do I anticipate sending or receiving money..Mind you all this time the dude is making entries as per my answers. It took over an hour to open an account and I have a tonne of paperwork to show for it.
Then they had an overdraft option..If you buy something and your account balance is zero they will approve the transaction for free as long as you deposit money by 10pm of the same night, failure to do so attracts a $34 ‘fine’ per transaction..That is steep. No, I didn’t get it. and they can only ‘fine’ you up to 3 fines in a day..What? That’s just $102..No thank you.
Then I ask for a Debit card, NO, they only issue ATM card at this branch..No, an ATM card can only withdraw cash. I had to be referred to another nearby branch to collect my Debit card..Maan this life is not easy especially in the banking sector as I was used to back in Kenya. Getting the hang of it though.
I’m officially legal to drive alone in Texas after months of back and forth with the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS). I passed my driving test easily. The process of scheduling and actually getting to do one was more of a hassle than the actual test.
I had all the paperwork ready to do the test and kept time for my test. The paperwork was in order, car was inspected and I was good to go. Parallel parking was the first order of the day, no problem. Next I got on the road and drove around the neighborhood. Stop signs were the main deal. I only went through one intersection..I was so prepared but there was nothing to worry about really.
The actual license will come in the mail after a couple of weeks. Sigh..I can’t wait.
The funny thing is that I was driving a manual transmission car in Kenya but surprisingly no one wanted to even see my Kenyan driving license or know how long I’d been driving prior to coming to the US. Such is life here and people coming from some countries should be prepared to start all over again as far as driving is concerned.
The hunt for a car is on. I had seen a nice VW Golf online but the owner backed out before I could actually see it. I’m now looking forward to getting an Audi A4. I’m a sucker for German manual transmission cars so that has been my main goal as I check out cars. I don’t want to get into debt buying a car in this country so nothing fancy. Something to take me from point A to point B.
I’ve realized that without a car in this country life is very difficult. You are basically as good as grounded.
Hopefully I’ll have some wheels in a couple of days..will see.
My driving license arrived in the mail yesterday. Here is a happy camper. No more carrying an A4 size temporary permit wherever I go.
I’ve been working for 3 weeks now. It’s been a learning curve of sorts..from the work place culture to challenges working the night shift. It hasn’t been easy but I’m happy to say I’m doing it a day at a time. It’s a new experience for me and hearing others tell their stories makes mine a walk in the park.
The only challenge I’m having is I still don’t have a driving license. I have a learners permit meaning I can’t drive alone. I have to be accompanied by a licensed driver at all times. I went to DMV last week, couldn’t do the driving test, was rescheduled for a couple of days later. I was there early morning after work but the testing officers rejected the registration documents I had..sigh. I’m scheduled to try again later this week. I hope it will be the last time I do the run around.
I’m still shopping for a car. I’ve been checking out Craigslist and I have a few potential cars to look out for. I’m particularly looking for a Volkswagen Golf. There aren’t too many in the greater Houston area. I settled for Volkswagen Jetta only to see their reviews sucked big time. I went to a dealer’s auction yesterday and I was overwhelmed by the cars on display. Hundreds of cars repossessed by financial institutions for failure to pay. I saw a few cars I’d be interested in. I can’t wait to drive. It’s a bit inconvenient for my host when he drops and picks me from work.
I’m still operating using my Kenyan bank card, it’s expensive to use but I hope to open an American bank account as soon as I get my first paycheck in a few days.
The weather this morning as I left work was 45F which to me doesn’t make sense. So I google and convert, it’s 7C and expected to drop. I came to Houston without any warm clothes. It’s Texas..or so I thought. I’m still in the process of stocking up on warm clothes. They don’t come cheap but what to do. Expected to get to 32 or 35 in a couple of days which is 0-2C..will see how that goes. I’m lucky as people in Northern states and Canada are already having snow, so I can’t complain.
It’s been tough but I’m still adjusting. Lowering expectations has kept me going.
Last night at some point clocks were adjust an hour back or ‘Fell‘ back an hour. So when I woke up today, it seemed time wasn’t moving or had stopped somewhere. It is interesting as it has been getting darker early the last couple of days.
Today on the other hand it was dark outside and it was only a few minutes to six in the evening..in comes daylight savings.
Apparently it’s supposed to save the energy in lighting up residential areas, extend retail business hours, as it induces customers to shop and to participate in outdoor afternoon sports, reduction in traffic fatalities (how now?) and other reasons that don’t make a lot of sense to me.
This a big change having grown all you life knowing the same time applies in your country all year round. It’ll take some getting used to. When you were born and raised in Africa this is one of those things that won’t make sense but hey just get with the program already and do it.
Today was quite chilly indoors and still as hot outside. There is a chilly breeze blowing but other than that you don’t notice much change here.
There is a 9 hour time difference to Nairobi, my capital city. I have to adjust from the 8 hour time difference before.
Working the night shift also means my weekend starts late but my week starts late..No Monday morning blues for me for now.