Bag Lady of London

July 20th, 2012

It’s extremely fortunate that I am an American woman, inured to feeling shame due to the unavoidable set-backs suffered under the misfortunes of war – currently a war against the red tape of governments and businesses hopelessly entangled. The loss of my debit card in Scotland remains under investigation by their fraud unit. Neither that bankcard nor my other card lost simultaneously in Madrid, have been replaced by my US banks although new cards were promptly requested. It was impossible to access my US bank funds from these countries unless I opened an account in one of their banks. None would open an account for a non-resident other than Barcley’s but that resulted in a misunderstanding between two clerks at different branches who’d informed me my check would clear within five days and the bank manager of one branch who determined it was closer to six or eight weeks for dollars to convert themselves into pounds sterling. I then canvassed a variety of banks who were unable to explain what conversion procedure actually required that time delay. Living on the forty or so pounds per day available from my secured credit card wasn’t permitting me to make travel plans.

I was then lured to London from Glasgow by the ignorance of a Citibank customer service phone employee who informed me that their English bank branches could certainly serve an American abroad. I arrived to find that a fallacy as you need to have an existing US account to qualify for international services.

Next door, in Hanover Square, was a Barclay’s bank where I learned that an aborted account I opened in Glasgow was still valid! What a happy mistake! After a couple of hours of negotiation, it was decided that my NY bank would send a new debit card here. After being without access to a couple of thousand dollars back in the states necessary to my basic existence for over six weeks now, I may soon be able to draw upon that account.

In the meantime, I walk the streets with two luggage bags and a large purse containing my valuables. These are being pilfered as I reside in hostels and loss reports of my word processor (with a third of a manuscript in it) have been filed. I am about to file a new London report of a lost cell phone next.

Approached by well-intentioned strangers and social workers about my apparent homelessness, I can only show them my documentation demonstrating my status as a stranded tourist.

I feel like an American refugee.

Categories: Letters

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