During my first few weeks in Barcelona, I was in a rush to open an account as I was just days away from beginning a teaching job I had lined up before leaving. Walking around the streets of the Catalan financial juggernaut, strangely familiar sights such as BBVA and Santander branches were scattered around town. These spots reminded me of my South American days where both of these banks were top players.
Something everyone should know expecting to conduct private banking in España, banks have awfully inconvenient hours. They shut their doors to the public around noon. In Canada, we used to complain (and still do... it’s our national pastime) that our institutions only operated during office hours, making it challenging to meet with financial advisors or just conducting day-to-day banking. Luckily, we evolved rapidly into direct withdrawals and online banking, which now makes visits almost obsolete.
I started my weekday morning at a Santander on Avinguda Diagonal only to find a long lineup before the doors would open. Aha! Just like back home. I was a seasoned veteran of the queue, seeing that we lineup for everything everywhere in Canada. I was ready for the long haul. Suddenly, a banker wearing a smart suit stopped on his way to the door and saw I was wearing a Barcelona FC soccer shirt dawning Messi’s name and number. He announced with great pride: “No Barça fan has to wait here! Come with me!” As a good Canadian, I felt somewhat embarrassed yet followed as ordered.
He sat me down at his desk, where he began a twenty minute monologue about the proud history of his club, showing me his wristwatch with a lovely Barça crest, his member card (they are the first to get season’s tickets) and discussed how Barcelona FC was a democratic organization as opposed to the fascists from Real Madrid FC. He said the socios (the members) get to elect the board that runs the team. Real Madrid were just a bunch of power-hungry venture capitalists that had no heart or allegiance. His family members were lifelong supporters of the club.
|More than a club|
The love of football and club really drives many aspects of this city. Businesses and people sing their praises of their lads’ performances. If the team loses a big game, there is a air that resembles a national day of mourning. Fans look out for each other, help each other to cut lines, waive procedures whenever they can and especially, don’t let you miss the big game, which is anytime the Culés take to the battlefield. If you need anything done, wear a Barça jersey!