Saturday, 14 February 2009

Playing the numbers game again ....

14.02.09: today's date.
6.00 pm: the time I saw the temperature on the chemist's sign in town.
13.5 degrees: the temperature at that time.
13.5 + some: the (unrecorded) temperature it must have been at midday.
45 degrees (approx): the angle of shadow in the photo.
5: the number of sunny days this week.

Those figures come from my own observations. No comment. Just a reminder of the date: 14th February!

And these figures come from Manuel Rivas, a local writer, and his excellent book, "Una espia en el reino de Galicia":

30,000 square kilometres: the surface area of Galicia.
1,200 kilometres: the length of the coastline of Galicia.

2.8 million: the number of inhabitants of Galicia in around 2005.

1,000,000: the number of cows in Galicia at that time.

500: the number of wolves (!!) in Galicia at that time.

1 (whereabouts unknown): the number of bears (!!!!) in Galicia at that time.

500 million: the number of trees in Galicia at that time.

77: the number of different kinds of apples grown in Galicia at that time.

Muchas gracias, Manuel.

Now for some figures of a different kind!

**** is my "numero secreto" for my Spanish bank debit card.
12 euros is the amount the bank charged me to activate that debit card.

About 8 weeks is the length of time it took them to give me a "numero secreto", despite my having phoned to activate the card and their having debited the account for the aforementioned 12 euros!

In the meantime, I had given the bank our NIE (Foreigner's ID) numbers so that they could be added to the database. This caused instant chaos with online banking. Until then I had used my passport number as ID, together with the "llave", customer number, provided electronically by the bank, without any problems whatsoever. Suddenly this did not work. Logic said that perhaps I should use my NIE number as ID instead. However, when I tried this I still had no success. Having consulted the wonderfully helpful Monica at the bank, I realised that the ball was in my court and I plucked up courage to phone the bank.

After the usual round of security checks, they confirmed that, yes, I needed to use my NIE. Fine, I told them, but now neither my passport number nor my NIE number worked. The bank employee asked me how long ago I had given the bank my NIE number and then informed me that it should take about ten working days for the database to be updated. So much for modern, instantaneous technology. I feared that bureaucracy had been at work again!

Once enough working days had elapsed, I tried the online banking again. Still no joy! Once again I phoned the bank's helpline, told them all sorts of intimate details by way of checks, explained the problem, gave my NIE number for the umpteenth time and was told that the problem was undoubtedly the result of my number beginning with a Y(?!?). They had not got around to them yet. This was getting beyond a joke. However, if there was anything I needed to do, bank-wise, I could always use their telephone banking service. Grrrrr! That was not the point! But I waited ... again! It did not work ... again!

Third time lucky? Another phone call, another round of security checks, another time of giving all the numbers and the by now rather lengthy saga and the bank employee this time declared herself to be totally flummoxed. She promised to investigate, sort it out and get back to me by email or phone within five days.

Five days later, I was on a bus, heading for Vigo airport to catch a plane home to visit family for Christmas. The bus was extremely crowded. We stood, jammed together, suitcases at our feet, rucksacks on our backs, barely able to breathe as more and yet more people crammed onto our bus. Then I felt, rather than heard, my phone ring in my bag which was pressed against hip. There was absolutely no chance of getting the phone out let alone answering it. When we reached the airport I checked the phone: one missed call, number withheld!

Some twelve to eighteen hours later I managed to check my email. The bank had sorted out the problem, although I still do not really know what caused it, and gave instructions for how to access my account online. And since then it has worked like a dream!

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