All / Originally Posted on Skirt

Research Fellowship: a Comedy in Three Acts

This is about the day I tried to register for my research fellowship at the American University in Cairo.  It was hellish.  I’ve decided the best way to convey the story is as a comic play.

Act I: in which Caitlin tries to find the Registrar’s Office

Caitlin (soliloquy): Well, I’ve checked the website and it looks like­ the Registrar’s office is still downtown on the Tahrir campus.  Some other students went down there to the Student Services office last week for their new bus passes, so I’ll just head on down there and hopefully I can be back at the hotel in a couple of hours and have a rest before I’m supposed to meet Bee and look at the houseboat!

(several minutes’ taxi ride later)

Caitlin: Hello, could you please tell me where the Registrar’s Office is?

 Guard: Registrar’s Office?  New campus!

Caitlin: But…on the internet it says it’s still here at Tahrir?

 Guard: New campus!

Caitlin: Please, please, I just want to go to the student services center!

 Guard (looking at her resignedly): Okay, okay, through there, to the right.

(The Student Services Center is a dark shell, there are no chairs in the waiting area and it is clearly closed.)

Caitlin: Thank you for letting me look for myself.  Is there a minibus out to the new campus?

  Guard: Yes, yes, around the other side.  You have your campus ID?

Caitlin:  That’s the thing, I’m here trying to register, I don’t have an ID yet.

  Guard: Hmm…Okay, maybe they let you on today.  Good luck!  The next bus is in twenty minutes.

(Caitlin waits amid a crowd of confused AUC students and faculty.  She bullies her way to the middle of the line, managing to ensnare one of the fold-out jump seats that fit in the aisle.  Not everybody gets on the bus. 

The ride to the New Campus takes 45 minutes.  Once out of the center of town, the bus full of confused and trepidatious people passes slums and shantytowns, the City Starz mall, and lots and lots of new concrete purpose-built settlements, some with brick walls filled in that don’t have any windows; the roads leading to them are unpaved.  They look like large animals that have shaken the sand off their backs, rising unbidden from the desert.  There are crews of men sweeping sand off the highway.  The bus passes the Moqattam Hills, where the landslide was, though they don’t see anything. 

Arriving at the new campus, which is IN THE MIDDLE OF THE #@#$%$ DESERT, they see a taxi stuck in the sand where it tried to turn around in the AUC driveway.  The parking lot isn’t finished so all the cars are parked in the sand…unwise.  When they pull up to the gates, the campus palm trees are still wrapped up and men in hard hats and orange vests carry construction materials hither and thither.  The slit windows around the outside of the building make it look like a military complex.  Nothing is marked, there are no signs or maps anywhere.)

Caitlin (gesturing with large yellow parasol she had the foresight to bring with her on this very hot day): Excuse me, can you tell me where the Registrar’s Office is?

 Confused Student (shrugs, wanders off aimlessly, looking dazed.)

Caitlin:  Hi, can you tell me where the Registrar’s Office is?

 Library Staff Member: No.

Caitlin (stuttering in Arabic): lau samaht, mumkin…um, feyn al maktab…uh…feyn al maktab…registraree?

 Guard: Registrar’s Office?

Caitlin: Yes, please!

 Guard: ID card?

Caitlin (fumbling for her invitation letter): I don’t have…I’m trying to get one now..here’s this…

 Guard: Okay…ala yemeen.

(Caitlin wanders off to the right.)

 

Act II: In which Caitlin tries to sort out some forms

(In the Registrar’s Office…finally)

Caitlin: Hello, I have this invitation letter… can you help me?

  Lady behind the desk:  Wrong window…lil shimaal.

(Caitlin sidles to the left.)

Swedish Student: I need a copy of my registration transcript.

 Other lady behind the desk: You need a what? 

Swedish Student: I need my transcript so I can transfer my credits.

 Other lady behind the desk: Okay, you are in the wrong place.  Go back here and see Madame Rabah, she has it.

(Swedish Student disappears.)

Caitlin:  I’m trying to find Ms. Hebbah Elyaum, I have this letter…

 Other lady behind the desk:  Okay, you need to go to the Provost’s office…

Caitlin: But it says right here in the letter that I need the Registrar’s Office (points).

 Other lady behind the desk (reads the letter): Oh, yes.  Go see Madame Rabah, she’s replacing Madame Elyaum.

(In Madame Rabah’s cubicle)

Swedish Student: I need my transcript. 

  Madame Rabah: You need what?

Swedish Student: I need a letter of transcript so I can transfer my courses back to Stockholm University, and the lady over there sent me here, she said you could…

 Madame Rabah (interrupting): Okay, no, you need to go back to the front desk, they will do it for you.

(Swedish Student disappears.)

Caitlin: Uh…hello.  I’ve got this letter from the Institute of Gender and Women’s Studies…

  Madame Rabah: Oh, yes.  Have a seat.  (Scanning the letter) But Miss, this letter is missing several signatures: from the Office of the Vice-Provost, and the Registrar, and Business Support Services in the New York Office.

Caitlin (with a sense of foreboding): Oh.  Well, actually those are just people who got cc’ed into the letter, see…?  It’s just my signature here that they want?

  Madame Rabah (frowning, reading it through again): What?  Oh, yes, you’re right.

Swedish Student (interrupting): Excuse me, the lady at the front desk, she has sent me back here…I just want my transcript with the letter of credits on it so I can transfer home!

  Madame Rabah (angrily): Really, you need to be more specific about what you want!  We can’t give it to you if you won’t tell us what it is that you need!  It is not called a transcript at all, it is called the letters of credit and the lady at the front desk will give it to you if you tell her that is what you are looking for!  Good day!

(Swedish student disappears.)

Madame Rabah (asks an office worker for some forms): Okay Miss McDonald, we will get these forms for you…Right.  Just sign here and put your information at the top, then you need to go and get these signatures.  Don’t worry about the room numbers on the form, these are old from the old campus, just go to the Student Services Center and they will sort you out.  Then you come back here with your passport and go to the Military Services Desk and they will sort out your ID and your residency permit, then finally go to the IT Services, they are at the end by the library and they will give you your username and password if you need one.  Then you are finished! 

(A few minutes later, wandering around the large interconnected courtyards of the campus.)

Caitlin: Excuse me, excuse me, do you know where the student services desk is?

(Various people shake their heads and give conflicting advice.  Finally Caitlin ends up at the main gate.)

Caitlin: Hello, I’ve been sent here to get these forms signed, from the Registrar’s Office.

 Lady behind the desk: The Registrar’s Office sent you here?  But the systems are down.  Come back later, or try online.

Caitlin: It’s okay, I just need to get some forms signed.

 Lady behind the desk (looking at the forms): But these are registration forms…Miss, this is the bus services desk.  You need to go out the gate and around the side there.

Caitlin (in her head): GAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHH!!!!

(In the Student Services Office, Caitlin takes a number and waits with other students clutching forms and looking like zombies.  Finally she gets called up.)

Caitlin: Hello, the Registrar’s Office told me to come here and get these forms signed?

 Lady behind the desk: Ah, no, no, Miss.  You need to get the signature from your head of department.  Then you can come back and I will help you. 

Caitlin:  But…the Registrar’s Office said that this office could do everything!

 Lady behind the desk: I am sorry, Miss.  But  I can’t help you.  NEXT!!

(Caitlin tries to get back through the gate onto campus.  The Guard stops her for ID and this time won’t accept her invitation letter as a substitute.  She rudely brushes past him and he doesn’t give chase. 

Several minutes pass while Caitlin tries to find someone who knows where her department is.  She asks all the Student’s Guild representatives standing around; none of them have ever heard of it.  They send her to the HuSS building, which at least has a sign.  The HuSS Student’s Guild rep hasn’t heard of it either; she suggests going back to the Administration building.  At a loss, Caitlin does this.)

Caitlin: Excuse me, do you know where this department is?

  Guard: ID?

Caitlin: Please, can you help me?  I’m looking for my department.

  Guard: ID!!

(Caitlin walks into a nearby patch of shade.  She looks at her letter.  She looks at all the buildings without any signs and all the construction workers wandering around with various material scraps.  She looks at the students trying to get into different doors and up or down stairways that don’t go anywhere, then returning, slump-shouldered, to the courtyards.  She bursts into tears.)

  Safina: Are you okay?

Caitlin(wailing ineffectively): NOOOOO!  I’m lost and nobody knows where my department is and I can’t get these forms signed and the Registrar’s Office closes in an hour!

  Safina: Ooh, there there.  Don’t cry, don’t cry.  We’re all in the same situation here, everybody’s running around and nobody knows where anything is.  Everyone understands!  If you can’t do it all today it’s fine.  I’m not trying to trivialize how difficult this is–it is–but don’t get upset, because we’re all in the same boat.  Look, go have a cup of coffee, take a break, and then try again, okay?  Don’t worry.

Caitlin (sniffling): Okay.

(Caitlin manages to find Jared’s Bagels, whose sign (oddly) is on the ground floor while the place itself is only reachable thorugh the basement. The manager is sweating it, telling the people in front of her that they’ve run out of most things and struggling to do his best to make the customers happy. Caitlin fears they won’t be able to give her change even if they can fill her order.)

Caitlin:  Could you make change from a fifty?

  The manager (looking incredulous): A FIFTY? (He checks with the staff on the register.)  Nope, sorry.  We’re out of everything small…we’re out of everything…

(Caitlin finds a rudimentary campus map at an information station.  She locates the Research Centers building and decides to go for gold. 

Because of the way the buildings are laid out, she can’t actually find the front of the place and when she does there is a fountain with debris floating in it and concrete dust covering everything.  She backtracks for help.)

Caitlin: Excuse me, is this the Research Centers building?

  Man sitting at a table with an AUC ID (Complaining to colleague about the quality of the maps, which is why Caitlin thought he might be able to help): Yes it is!  What are you looking for?

Caitlin: Institute of Gender and Women’s Studies.

  Man STAI: Oh yes, I saw some of their signs the other day…I don’t quite remember where, but they’re definitely in this building.  (He guides Caitlin back into the courtyard with the debris fountain.)  Maybe down that hallway?  Wait, I’ll ask.  (Calling to a woman standing on the landing of the stairs one flight up:) Hey, have you seen the IGWS offices?  I know they put up their signs recently…some other people have moved in today.

Aaliyah: We

ll…this is definitely the right building for them, since they’re a research center. 

Man STAI (to Caitlin): Okay, have a look around, they should be here somewhere.

Caitlin: Thanks so much.

(Caitlin wanders around the building, opening doors, climbing stairs.  She notices the locks haven’t been installed yet.  She notices all the chairs and tables are still covered in plastic.  She opens a stairwell door to find it full of construction debris.  She keeps wandering around until she starts thinking about how creepy empty buildings are…like they’ve swallowed everyone who is supposed to be in them.  She wanders back down the stairs.)

  Aaliyah: Did you find it?

Caitlin: No…(begins crying again) Please excuse me, I’m so sorry…

  Aaliyah: Oh, no no, please don’t worry.  Here, come into my office, we’ll see if we can sort this out.

Caitlin (sniffling and choking): Thank you.

(In Aaliyah’s office)

Aaliyah:  Now.  What’s your name and who are you looking for?

  Caitlin: My name’s Caitlin and I’ve got a visiting research fellowship with the Institute of Gender and Women’s Studies.  I’m trying to get registered but they tell me they need Dr. Reed’s signature before they can do anything, and nobody knows where the offices are and this whole building looks like it’s still under construction….Sorry.  What’s your name?

Aaliyah:  My name is Aaliyah.  You’re absolutely right, nothing is ready.  They really need another semester before they’ll be fully prepared for opening.  I completely understand your difficulties–I’m also a member of the Politics faculty and the offices over there are occupied now, but I can’t get my office open even though I’ve done everything I’m supposed to do!  I think someone’s stolen the battery from the lock–it’s been happening a lot.  That’s why I’m sitting over here. 

  Caitlin:  I think you’re the only one in the building!

Aaliyah: Yes, you’re right–that’s why I was standing on the terrace.  It’s odd without any other people around. 

  Caitlin: Yeah…but you could have rolly-chair races and nobody would ever know!

Aaliyah (smiling): Yes, that’s true.  Now let’s see if we can get you sorted out.

(They spend several minutes using the campus directory to look things up.  Aaliyah gives Caitlin the office numbers and phone numbers for IGWS and the HuSS Dean’s Office since Dr. Reed is also the Dean of HuSS.) 

Caitlin: Thank you so much.  It’s all been so confusing.  I really appreciate your help.

  Aaliyah:  Don’t worry about it–it’s not like I can do anything else today.  Now, don’t worry too much about getting registered; it may take some time and everyone understands.  Try to relax.

Caitlin:  I’m not known for my relaxation…thanks again.  Thank you so much. 

(Caitlin races off, armed with numbers and places.  Third floor!  This way?  No, the numbers are going down….turn right, past the bathroom with no faucets, down the hall, open the door with no locks, open this door…oh, spare legnths of wood.  Not there.  Keep going…Oh look!  They have a whole office just for visiting research fellows!  Cool!  Can’t get in…keep going…there’s the main IGWS office.  There’s nobody around, though there are some books in the Director’s office–at least somebody was here, even if they arent here now.

Caitlin changes tactics and decides to go to the HuSS Dean’s office, just to leave the form there for Dr. Reed to sign so she can pick it up later.  She heads out of the empty building and towards HuSS, the only department that actually has a sign.

Caitlin walks through the empty courtyards, going as far as she can before hitting a wall and seeing no signs or numbers or anything.  Other people race about like ants in increasing frenzy because the time for the bus back to town is inexorably approaching.)

Caitlin: Excuse me, can you tell me where the Dean’s office is?

  Student Rep (consulting detailed map): Okay, go down there and climb the set of steps to your right.

(Caitlin goes.  While climbing the steps she has the sudden sensation that they don’t actually lead anywhere; that she’ll just be wandering the ups and downs and ins and outs of this little city forever.  No backtracking, no moving forward, no escape.  Caitlin has had nightmares about walking through empty buildings, searching for people.  She thinks about the film Labyrinth.

Caitlin passes rooms and rooms marked with masking tape, little blank spaces that were neither rooms nor not rooms and so many staircases.  She begins to think they are all the same staircase, just some sort of fractal universal staircase endlessly repeating itself.  And then she finds it.)

Caitlin: Excuse me, I’d like to leave this form for Dr. Reed to sign if that’s possible?

  Lady working in the office: Okay, she isn’t here today but I’ll send you to see her assistant, Asma Suad–she’s down there, second office on the right. 

(in the second office on the right)

Caitlin:  Hi, are you Asma?  I’m Caitlin, I was just wondering if I could leave this form here for Dr. Reed to sign and then I’ll come back later in the week to pick it up so I can get registered.

  Asma Suad: Nice to meet you.  Here, let me see.  (looks at form.) Oh, but this isn’t right at all!  This form is from the old campus, it is no good here, you will need to go back to the Registry Office.

Caitlin:  Oh please, oh please, they gave me the form and sent me to the Student Services and then they wouldn’t help me because I didn’t have the right signatures and please could you tell me if I don’t have the right form what I should be doing?  Please help me!

  Asma Suad: Of course, of course.  Of course I’ll help you.  Who gave you the form exactly?

Caitlin: Madame Rabah.

  Asma Suad: Okay.  (She makes varoius phone calls.  Obviously nobody is answering.)  Okay, I will try Rafa Kamil, she is the IGWS administrator and perhaps she will know what to do.  (Asma calls Rafa.  After some discussion she asks:) Khalas, Miss Caitlin can you come back tomorrow?  It is just, the buses are leaving soon and there is no way you can get the form in today anyway.  (Caitlin nods.  Asma continues speaking in Arabic and then says:)  Actually would you be able to meet Rafa now?  Here, you speak to her.

Caitlin: Hello, Rafa?

  Rafa (on the phone): Yes, hello Caitlin.  Do you know the Jared’s Bagels?  Jared’s Bagels.

Caitlin: Yes?

  Rafa: Okay Caitlin, can you meet me there in about five minutes?  I will sign your form and I will help you if there are any problems.  Let’s do this.  I am wearing green pants, Miss Caitlin.  Green pants!

Caitlin: Okay, thank you, thank you so much…

(Five minutes later, in front of Jared’s Bagels.  Caitlin is shoving jelly beans in her mouth so she doesn’t pass out from low blood sugar.)

Caitlin: Are you Rafa?

Rafa: Yes!  Here, where is your form?

Caitlin:  I’m so sorry to bother you, it’s just…this has been nuts.  I’m sure for you too.

Rafa: Yes.  Yes, it has been complete chaos.  Here, there I’ve signed the form for you on Martina’s behalf and here is my cell phone number, if there are any problems you call me, okay?  Now I must go.

Caitlin:  Okay, thank you!!

(Caitlin decides to get some lunch, lack of change be damned.)

Amber: That is the coolest parasol I’ve ever seen, what a smart idea!

Caitlin: Thanks!

Magda: Yeah, that’s awesome!

Caitlin: Yeah, it might be impractical for some places, but it’s actually quite useful in Cairo. 

(A brief conversation about the awesomeness of Caitlin’s research ensues.  They get to the counter and order.)

Magda: We’d better hurry up, Amber.  The buses are leaving soon.

Caitlin: Where do you guys live? 

Amber: Zamalek. 

Caitlin: Oh, I’ll come with you then.

(In the parking lot, surrounded by people milling about and buses loading up and leaving.)

Caitlin, Magda and Amber: Where’s the Zamalek bus?  Have you seen the Zamalek Bus?  Feyn al autobis illa Zamalek?  Feyn?  Where is it?  Is it this one?  No?  Yes?  Over there?

(They wander around for a while.  After deciding they are never going to find it and seeing several buses leaving without them, the girls decide to jump on the Tahrir bus and get a taxi home since they don’t want to risk being left behind in the middle of the *#%@&^% desert.

On the bus.)

Amber: Do you feel heat around your ankles?

Caitlin (still steaming from the entire day and unable to tell the difference):  I’m trying to ignore it.

(As the bus makes it’s HOUR AND A HALF journey back to the center of town it becomes increasingly clear that indeed heat IS coming from a vent somewhere near their ankles, and it’s slowly rising to our heads, overpowering the air conditioning above.  By the time the bus reaches town the occupants are all thoroughly steamed.)

Act III: in which Caitlin finally gets back to Zamalek and just when she thinks her adventure is over, a new twist develops.

Caitlin: Here, if we share a taxi to Zamalek it won’t be more than a couple of Egyptian pounds each.

Amber and Magda: Okay, thank you (grateful that they’ve met someone who can direct a taxi in Arabic.)

Caitlin: Taxi!  Sharia sitta we ishreen jullia, Zamalek.  

(On the Zamalek side, Caitlin gets out in front of the Marriott and sends the taxi on to the AUC dorm with the other two girls.  She thinks about going back to her hotel for a rest first, but she really wants to get some smaller change from the tellers in the Marriott bank and draw out her rent money.  She knows if she goes back to lie down she won’t want to get up again.

In the Marriott bank, Caitlin tries to get the tellers to do a teller transaction for her so she can get a greater amount of money out than she can withdraw from the machine.  They refuse and tell her she can only use the ATM.  She tries to get some money out, it asks her for her password three times and then swallows the card.)

Caitlin: Excuse me!  Excuse me!  The machine took my card away.  Can I please call my bank to work this out?

Teller (reading the slip of paper from the ATM): Is okay.  (He calls the bank manager who opens the machine and gets the card out.)

Bank Manager: This is your card?

Caitlin: Yes.

Bank Manager: Where is your passport?  I need your passport before you can have your card.

Caitlin:  My passport is in my hotel, not here.  Look, can I just call my bank and then we can get all this straightened out?

Bank Manager: What is your room number?

Caitlin: This is not my hotel.  My passport is in MY hotel, not here.

Bank Manager: I can’t give you back your card without your passport.

Caitlin: Look, here…my driver’s license, my student card from Exeter, my International Student Identity Card, my business card…can I just please, please call my bank?

Bank Manager: One moment please.  (He disappears with Caitlin’s bank card and all her identification.  While he is gone a man comes in to the bank and begins berating the tellers about some money he lost.  Caitlin is covered in sweat from her ride in the Sauna Bus and completely exhausted.  She begins to cry again.)

Man: Excuse me, did you have some trouble with the bank machine?

Caitlin: Yes.

Man: Well a couple of days ago I came in to withdraw some money and the machine didn’t give it to me but charged my bank anyway.  Now they’re telling me it will be several weeks before I get the charges back.  I don’t think that’s a very good machine.

Caitlin: Thanks.

(Bank manager reappears with a large book and all Caitlin’s cards.)

Bank Manager: You sign here, please.

(Caitlin signs.)

Bank Manager: And put down your passport number.

Caitlin: I don’t have my passport with me!  Why is this so hard to understand?  I don’t know my passport number!  Please, please, can I just call my bank?!

Bank Manager (noticing that Caitlin is crying): What is your problem?

Caitlin: Now my bank at home has shut off my card and I need money to pay the rent.

Bank Manager: The machine doesn’t have a problem.

Caitlin: Well, I still can’t use it!

(The bank manager insists that Caitlin try the machine again.  She tries three more times, and of course can’t get anything out.)

Bank manager: there are two more machines down past reception.  You can use those.

Caitlin: I don’t think you understand.  My bank at home, I need to call my bank.  Can I use your phone?

Bank Manager: Of course you can. 

Caitlin: Okay, thank you.  How do I dial out of Egypt?

Bank Manager: Oh, only for Egyptian numbers.

Caitlin:  Oh, what the… (Starts crying even harder.)

Bank Manager: Miss, miss, there is no problem.  Do not cry.  There are other machines, miss.  It is fine.

Caitlin:  It is not fine.  It isn’t!! 

(A few minutes later, walking towards Caitlin’s hotel, her cell phone rings.)

Caitlin: Hello?

Bee: Caitlin?  Hello, it’s Bee.

Caitlin:  Oh, hi.

Bee: Look, I was just wondering when we could meet up so I can get my deposit and the week’s rent from this month back.

Caitlin:  Uh…I just had some problems with my bank card.  I’ll need to call them first before I can meet you. 

Bee:  Okay.  You deal with everything and then we can meet up around nine. 

(Back at the hotel, Caitlin uses the internet to call her bank at home.  All the usual ridiculous and mundane security questions, then:)

Customer Service Representative: Okay there Miss McDonald, looks like you’ve been entering the wrong PIN number.

Caitlin: What?  No I haven’t.

CSR:  Riiiiiiight.  Well I’m very sorry for all the trouble you’ve been having, Miss McDonald.  Now the only way to reset your PIN is through our automated system, I’ll just put you through now. 

Caitlin: Wait wait…

(The phone clicks into the automated system.  The system goes through a couple of steps, then tells Caitlin it can’t understand what she’s saying and puts her through to a Card Services Representative.)

Caitlin: Hello?

CSR: This is Card Services, how can I help you?

Caitlin: I was just trying to reset my PIN number and…

CSR: Reset your PIN number?  Well I can’t do that, ma’am.  Only the automated system can do that.  Why did you call us?

Caitlin: I didn’t call you, I was using the automated system and it said it couldn’t hear me and stuck me through to you. 

CSR: Look, are you trying to activate your card?

Caitlin:  Okay.  Let me go through this from the beginning.  I called in because my card wasn’t working.  I was told there was a problem with my PIN number and that the only way to reset it was to go through the automated system as though I were reactivating my card and then put in the new PIN I want at the end.  I tried that, and it didn’t like what I was doing, so it put me through to you.

CSR: The automated system?  Well, I can’t reset your PIN so I don’t know what you want me to do.

Caitlin: Look, what am I supposed to do if the automated system isn’t working?  I’m trying to follow all the instructions, I wasn’t trying to get a person.  What should I do now.

CSR: Do you want me to activate your card?

Caitlin: I guess so, but…

CSR (making typing noises on a keyboard): There, it’s activated.  Goodbye!  (Click!)

Caitlin: What the #^%^$# you holy $&%^# I hope you have a %&*$$ and all your children’s children’s children can’t $&^&$*.  Bastard card services!!!!

(Caitlin tries calling the number on the back of her card again.  They tell her the automated system is the only way to go.  And it disconnects her.  Caitlin calls her parents in a panic.)

Caitlin: MOOOM!!!!

Mom: Caitlin?  Are you okay?

Caitlin: NOOOOO!!! EVERYTHING’S BROKEN AND I CAN’T REGISTER AND MY CARD GOT DENIED AND I ALMOST GOT STUCK IN THE DESERT AND I CAN’T PAY THE RENT AND BARBARA WANTS THE DEPOSIT AND MY CARD GOT DENIIIIIIIEEED!!

Mom: Caitlin…calm down.  Breathe.  I can’t understand you. 

(Caitlin explains the situation with the bank.)

Mom: Okay.  Okay.  Is it just your bank card, or all your credit cards as well?

Caitlin (sniffling): Just my bank card, as far as I know.  And I didn’t try my British one.

Mom: Okay…you just wait there for a minute. (Mom confers with Caitlin’s Dad.) Right.  We’re going to look up some Western Union branches.  We can wire you the money if you need to.  But it might be easier for you to get out a cash advance…

(Long discussion ensues about the best way to get cash in the immediate future.  Caitlin’s parents are very reassuring and supportive, and finally she feels confident enough to go out and use the ATM.

Later that day, Caitlin calls her parents back to let them know what happened.)

Dad (on Skype):  Hello, Caitlin?  What happened?

Caitlin:  Well, the good news is I got the money for the deposit out from my British bank.  The bad news is…my other card got eaten by a bank machine.

Dad: You tried the other card again?

Caitlin: Yeah…probably not the smartest idea.

Dad: Well…don’t worry about it.  It’s okay.  You’ve got credit cards and your other bank card works and if worst comes to worst we can always wire you some cash.  You’re fine.

Caitlin:  Yeah.  It’s fine.  It’s just been a long day. 

Dad: Now, tell me about this deposit.  Why is Bee taking it?  That’s odd. 

Caitlin:  I got so caught up in the bank situation that I didn’t really ask.  I assume its a sort of rolling deposit…

Dad:  Huh.  Well, be careful.  If it turns out she’s just bilking you then you could have to turn around and pay it to the owner of the boat as well as her.  Make sure you get a receipt.  And if she won’t give one to you, then don’t give her any money!

Caitlin: Okay.  I think Bee is straightforward, I don’t think I’ll have any trouble getting a receipt. 

(Skipping to the end, Bee did explain about the deposit situation and before Caitlin even asked about it, told her that she always writes a receipt for it when new people come in.  It all worked out fine.)

Caitlin (back in her hotel room after going out for tea to settle the deposit situation): How did it get to be midnight already?!  And I have to get up and move onto that boat early tomorrow…



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