Today I made a second trip to a local branch of HSBC. I've been there once before to sign the papers to open my account, but this time, I needed to pick up my debit card and give them a signed paper that would authorize the deduction of my rent payments from my account.
The bus stop is nearly directly in front of the bank and when it dropped me off, my watch read 2 pm, but I could see that three employees were waiting in front of the bank and at least one was smoking a cigarette. Since the bank is supposed to re-open at 2 pm, I figured that my watch might be fast. Rather than stand and look as if I was trying to speed them up, I took a few minutes and went into a nearby supermarket and bought some small things that I needed.
I took my time, but when I got done, my watch read 2:15 and the employees were still outside. I mentally shrugged and went across the street. When I got there, they apologized profusely and said that there was something wrong with the electronic opener on the door, so we were all locked out. They said it might be an hour and did I have any shopping to do instead?
Since buying a pencil sharpener and a birthday candle for Molly had already been more than I was planning on doing, and I didn't have a grocery sack with me, I didn't really want to go do any shopping, so I told them that it was fine and I was willing to wait.
This bothered them, so the supervisor got on the phone and called whomever was supposed to be bringing the physical key over, to ask how long it would be. Eventually, they agreed on 15 minutes. While that 15 minutes passed, I chatted a bit with the employees -- who were very kind -- and they checked my paperwork and discussed whether or not they thought that my debit card was in fact available in the branch. (It was.) They kept peppering the conversation with apologies for how long it was taking, especially as, at the 15 minute mark, the man bringing the key called and said it would be ten more minutes.
I observed that even if my debit card turned out to not be in the branch, I'd waited at the mairie for much longer than 30 minutes for what ultimately turned out to be a fruitless search. That didn't seem to make them feel any better. They told me that this is the first time it's happened with the door in 13 years (which would seem to demonstrate that they shouldn't feel bad at all about it!), that he would be there soon, that they were very sorry.
All in all, I was surprised that they were so concerned about my half hour wait; it's not the kind of attitude I would have expected.