At any moment, we humans can find ourselves challenged by an unexpected test. How we react to it makes a big difference to the outcome because it is, literally, a spiritual crisis. Here’s a blog post that I’ve just written for my travel website, www.heyboomers.com, but I’ll post it here because money worries impinge so powerfully upon our psyche.
WHAT IF YOU RAN OUT OF MONEY IN A FOREIGN COUNTRY?
Has that ever happened to you? How did you survive it?
Well, it happened to me just this week! The expiration date on my debit card snuck up on me and suddenly, my cash card was going to shut down within thirty days. Yikes! I’m in Africa! Banks don’t mail such precious cargo overseas!
Luckily, my daughter, Jennifer, is named on my bank account, which is fueled solely by the monthly Social Security payment which funds my world travels. I emailed her about this emergency and she immediately consulted with our bank. If I hadn’t opened that account naming her as a signee, they wouldn’t have spoken to her about it.
Yes, a new card would be mailed before the end of the month, but only to her Denver address, which I use as my stateside contact. At that moment, I didn’t know where I would be in my ongoing travels, so that was full of many possibilities…from Rwanda, to South Africa, to South East Asia. But, suddenly, I needed a solid, dignified address where a Fed Ex package could be received and signed for. Okay, I’d better get to work on my itinerary.
So far, the situation was not at crisis status; but that changed when I made my usual money-run to the Mall’s ATM machine for my weekly Ugandan Shilling supply. This is basically, a cash-only country for tourists and charge cards might be accepted in some shops, but not very many. My Entebbe lodging, the Via Via Guesthouse, is pay-as-you-go in local currency.
Imagine my distress when every ATM that I tried turned me down! I even went to several banks and appealed to humans behind desks. They had no suggestions, even as to how I could get cash from my charge card, which was not about to expire. I was puzzled because there was a full three weeks before my debit card would expire.
The answer lay in Jennifer’s waiting email. My new card had arrived in the mail and she, very wisely, had activated it with a phone call before sending it off to my present Ugandan address by Federal Express. Obviously, the activation had de-activated my current card!
Additionally, the service between our two continents is not “overnight” but would take at least five days! Ummmmm, that’s a long time to go without food! Other than a few power bars bought with my credit card. Suddenly, I was to survive with no cash!
Luckily, Via Via agreed to allow me to put my food on a tab in their cafe; and I decided to stay right there instead of traveling on. After all, this whole business would be solved long before the end of the month. Things could have been worse!
Upon reflection, I saw the practical value of holding onto my emotions when I suddenly realized that I had no money. Before I knew WHY my card had died so early, I could feel the beginning of the brain freeze that panic brings.
You can’t think logically under those conditions. Suddenly, your primitive body goes into the “What will become of me?” stage of fright. People in that state might lash out and say angry things; for instance, to the optical shop that was taking so long to make my new glasses. Overlooking the fact that they had let me charge the spectacles instead of requiring cash.
Now, a week later, all problems are resolved. My Federal Express package arrived a few days early. And, I’m wearing my new glasses, so the wait was worth it. And, the best thing is that I had a chance to observe myself under tight emotional circumstances and to realize that I kept my head. That’s a spiritual landmark that, thank goodness, doesn’t present itself everyday during this long, around-the-world journey.
However, you might check the expiration dates on your important cards right now, so this particular spiritual test doesn’t have to happen to you!