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Category Archives: Missionary Shenanigans

Kicked Out of El Banco: When Rejection Strikes

A few years into Baja living, my husband learned to roll with the inconvenient punches, knew exactly how to pay all the bills in person, and understood the cultural norms. 

But of all the places we visited in the city, going to a Mexican bank never felt fun. 

  • Funky restaurants? Yes. 
  • The Italian gelato shop? Always. 
  • The pediatrician whose colleagues delivered babies downstairs? Sorta.
  • The gas stations where they pumped your gas and washed your windows? Maybe. 
  • The bank? Never. 

Between 230 cars jockeying for 13 parking spaces, sketchy holes in the sidewalks and a general feeling of being a tad nervous carrying too much cash, I preferred to stay in the car. Or at home.

At least their banks had real police officers packin’ heat at the front door. None of this rent-a-cop packin’ snacks nonsense you find in the States. 

ANY-who… one day my husband drove into Ensenada, did the parking spot dance, greeted the guard in Spanish, walked into our bank, and stood in line. The sound of dress shoes and high heels reverberated off the tile-only floors. It felt like a chore to always leave his flip-flops behind, but when in El Banco de Baja….

This particular bank had an agreement with Bank of America that allowed customers to bank in both countries without fees. So convenient! Our typical routine included taking cash out of our account in the States and then exchanging it for pesos in Baja. Easy breezy.

My husband waited for the teller to call him over for a typical transaction he’d done dozens of times. But this one went from normal to sideways faster than he could say hola. 

He slid his card and envelope of American dollars across the teller threshold and asked her to please deposit it into his account. He then asked for that same amount in pesos. 

She ran his card, looked at her screen, and politely excused herself.

Minutes later she returned with a larger-than-normal envelope, gave a half-smile, and looked timid. “Señor, you only deposit American money, only take out pesos, and you’re not using your card around town.”

“Si? And?”

“You can’t do that,” she said.

My husband looked baffled. “Porque?”

“Because you can’t.”

She slid all of our cash back across the teller threshold and stood her ground. 

“We’re closing your account. Here’s all your dinero.”

Photo by Sandra Gabriel on Unsplash

And that was it. Packed up, closed down, kicked out. 

Frustration bubbled. Even if she broke out her cheery voice and sang, Go on, take your money and run, the thought of opening an account in another bank with no connections to the States would have still furrowed my husband’s brow. He would have loved to stand there and politely spar about why this didn’t make sense, wasn’t fair, and felt discriminatory, but arguing in another language requires a different level of linguistic knowledge. 

When I was in middle school I got kicked out of our little town’s public library for talking too much. And too loud.

When my husband was in middle school he got kicked out for selling something slightly illegal on campus. 

But getting kicked out of a bank as an adult because you’re exchanging dollars for pesos and not using your card enough? Loco rejection. 

Which Got Me Thinking…

Besides the normal complicated chaos of friendships and family-ships, it feels like 2020 grabbed us all by the throat and threw us out on the street. Rejection at its finest. 

  • Our plans? Deleted.
  • Our vacations? Canceled. 
  • Our jobs? Furloughed.
  • Our non-life-threatening procedures? Postponed. 
  • Our jobs, round 2? Laid off.

Our kids got kicked out of their classrooms, off the playground, and into the kitchen.

Our teachers got kicked into the guest room… the den… the basement.

Our nurses got kicked out to the hallway… the parking lot… the courtyard.

We were all forced to deal with being kicked out of places—forced to deal with rejection. 

  • Church on the couch
  • Reduced restaurants
  • Closed theaters
  • Delayed deliveries
  • Empty shelves

How did you deal?

In the county where we live, churches now have to meet outside again, but tattoo parlors and salons can stay open.

To be clear, Governor, we can’t sit far apart with masks on and listen to a Christian talk from a stage 50 feet away, but an aesthetician can get within 50 millimeters of our spittle to wax the eyebrows off our faces?

Noted. 

Time to Bounce

Will we bounce back? Of course we will. We’re strong, resilient and determined. 

Until we’re not. 

  • Have we given ourselves permission to despise the sting of rejection? 
  • Have we given each other space to mourn the losses?
  • Have we sometimes felt like God has been silent?

Do you see us down here? We’re gettin’ our butts kicked!

If you’re a “pull up your cowboy bootstraps” kind of human, you might be tempted to let your eyeballs roll away while muttering something about being wussy and entitled when people complain. I’m married to an Enneagram eight; I get it.

But remember, sometimes those with hard shells have soft interiors. Therefore, I made a kinder quote. One might annoy you, the other might resonate with you. I respect you either way.

What have you been kicked out of recently? Are you feeling rejected? I’d be happy to pray for you if you want to share in the comments. 

P.S. Click on “Comments” right next to the title. 🙂

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Above Reproach: 3 Stories with Men That Changed My Ways

At the ripe old age of 16-ish, I’m pretty positive I couldn’t have told you what living above reproach meant.  Fifteen years later I moved to Baja and lived above a roach (a colony of them actually), but that’s different.  The appearance of evil is a tricky thing. If you’re not actually doing anything evil/wrong/illegal,… Continue Reading

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The Hungry Games

(Shared with permission) Age: nineChild: mineAttitude: fine Until it wasn’t.  When one of our kids got in trouble for a garden-variety no-no, I figured the next steps would resemble the rest. Too tall to spank and not naughty enough to ground, I sent him to the back room where his timeout minutes matched his age.… Continue Reading

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Donate This, Not That: Tips to Donate with Dignity

I know… I’ve had good intentions that went awry too. I’ve donated things I probably should’ve thrown in the trash. I felt guilty about the blatant waste though, so I passed it on for someone else to hopefully benefit from. Trouble is, if an item falls into that category, it’s probably going to end up… Continue Reading

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When You Don’t Wanna Bloom Where You’re Planted

  When the Mary Englebreit craze invaded 1996, I joined millions of other fans and hung her calendar on my wall. I liked her one-two faith punch: “Everything is a risk. What if it doesn’t work out?”  “Oh—but what if it does?” Over the years my floral style changed, but I now see that she produces… Continue Reading

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Classy Smut

  I walked by the dilapidated Baja house with the window open and heard it. I visited Porvenir friends in the middle of the afternoon and saw it. Almost every time we ate tacos early, like old people, we saw it again—at our favorite stand, just above the raw meat.   Ask any woman in… Continue Reading

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Clearly We’re New Here

  Are there any two words more filled with trepidation for a middle schooler than “new school”? Well, maybe “avocado prices,” but that’s probably more for the moms. Plop that middle schooler in a new country, state and city, and you’ve got a recipe for a confused kid. According to sociologist David C. Pollock, “A… Continue Reading

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Stress: Top 5 Factors for Kids and Adults

  Psychologists say the most stressful changes for children are (in no particular order) moving, divorce, losing a pet, death of a parent and death of a sibling. And for adults? According to Health Status, the top five include moving, divorce, major illness, job loss and death of a loved one. Since moving is one of the… Continue Reading

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Awkward as a Fat Idol in Church

  She stood behind the last row of chairs, alone, with beautiful brown eyes taking it all in. I had never seen her in there before, though I knew she was a native. Our church does not carry the best reputation for being the most friendly bunch to outsiders so I figured I should welcome… Continue Reading

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