Today I made an expedition out to the local post office to see if I could withdraw cash from my BoA debit card. I managed to find the ATM without too much trouble and managed to navigate the Japanese menu after inserting my card. But after pressing (what I thought was) the withdraw button, the ATM froze on me. After standing there for a couple seconds another patron entered, I apologized off-hand before realizing she didn’t know what was up. So I was basically apologizing for existing at that point, which I guess as far as Japanese politeness goes, might not be abnormal.
Anyways, after a bit she realizes something is wrong and comes forward to try and help. She pokes some buttons on the screen to no avail and then proceeds to the front desk. Right when she calls out the ATM spits my card back out and says there was an error. I decided to let the other person go ahead of me as I contemplated what went wrong with my previous attempt.
The lady finishes her transaction promptly and I’m left to challenge the metal demon once more. I enter my card and see the same familiar menu; I study the kanji on the screen and come to the same conclusion as before. I decide I best not risk it and decide to hit the English option in the bottom-right corner. Instantly, all but one of the options disappear -_-;
Right after I press the only remaining option “Withdraw” a lady from the front desk pops out from behind me. She comes just in time to see the ATM freeze as I place my card in. After the ATM unfreezes and regurgitates my card, she guides me through the Japanese menu, telling me to hit the ‘other’ option and then ‘withdraw’. I follow her directions, put my card in and… the ATM freezes again. We try once more with a similar result. She asks me if I’ve used the card at another Post Office and I say that I haven’t. She concludes that I can’t use the card in Japan and apologizes.
When I left I couldn’t help but wonder why she came out the second time. I think it’s because I hit the English button and set off some kind of inter-office gaijin alarm system. My Japanese co-worker assured me that it was more likely that she saw me struggling and stepped into help. He said that at most places the workers are quick to try and help out a customer. I still hold my reservations.
I’m on to you Japan.