Way across town from where I am staying is my favorite cafe, a quaint boutique of tea and snacks and antique furniture run by an English expatriate. Though a long trek, I made it frequently in order to enjoy a quiet cup of Earl Grey with fruit tarts and biscuits and whipped cream.
Next to this cafe was a Bank of America, which I was overjoyed to discover due to (what I perceived to be) a banking irregularity with my checking account (which turned out to just be me spending my money faster than expected). I went to the BoA and asked for some help. The conversation went something like this:
"Hi there, my bank card claims I have no money, but I'm sure I do. Could you check my record to see what happened?"
"I'm sorry, we can't do that here. You'll have to call the central office."
"Oh, ok. Can you call them from here and figure out what's the problem?"
"No, we can't call from here. We don't know the number."
"... I'm sorry, did you say you don't know the number of the central banking office?"
"Don't you need to call them, like, every day?"
"No, it's all done by computer."
"Well sure, I assume that works for most things. But don't you occasionally need to speak with a person?"
"Ok... can you find out the number for me?"
"No, we don't have it. You could check the website..."
"I've looked all over the website, and it only has a 1.800 number, which only works from within the United States. I need to have a direct number so I can call from here."
"Well, I'm sorry, I don't have the number."
"... Ok... Um, can I speak with your manager perhaps?"
"... Ok... One second."
[Many seconds pass]
"Hello, how can I help you?"
[Repeat the entire conversation]
"Ahh, yes, I can get you that number. No problem. Wait right here."
"Here you go."
"Great thanks... Oh, wait. Um... this is a 1.800 number. I can't call that from here; it won't work. Do you have a different number?"
"No, that's the only number we have."
"Oh, have you tried to call it? Does it work?"
"I haven't tried it, but I'm sure it works."
"Ah, ok. Could you call it now then?"
"... Well... ok...Ah. Hm... it isn't working."
"Yeah... I think it's because it's a 1.800 number..."
This continues for an unbelievable amount of time, including me leaving and coming back the next day to speak to a more senior manager. Eventually I get and call a real phone number (though finding an international phone is always an excruciating chore), only to discover that in fact the person who stole my money was me, one withdrawal at a time. Oops, perhaps Thailand wasn't as cheap as I thought.