Sunday, April 24, 2016

the bank of barco

Banking has topped my bête noire list for a couple of years now.

It took me about a year of living in Mexico to perfect a system where my pension proceeds would be directly deposited in an American checking account that would allow me to transfer dollars to my Mexican peso account. I reduced my ATM fees to zero and received the boon of an almost-wholesale exchange rate.

All was well -- until the current White House decided to fight drug dealers and billionaire tax cheats by shutting down almost all foreign American banking accounts that allowed electronic transfer. That was the great FATCA fiasco.

Expatriates reacted in various ways. Some simply pulled out all of their money from American banks and relied solely on their Mexican bank accounts. I am still considering that option.

Especially, after I lost all ATM access for this past month. Fortunately, the dollar drought ended when my friends the Millers showed up with a new ATM card in hand.

But I had another solution right under my nose -- and I never knew it.

Our area is almost a cash exclusive economy. And that cash is pesos. Because most of the businesses I patronize are small, low denomination notes and coins are at a premium. All of us here tend to carefully shepherd those denominations.

Over the past week, though, I have noticed an odd fluctuation in my coins. I thought I had a handful at the end of each day, but when I headed out the door to start my new day, the coins were few.

But, I am old, and I often forget when I have used them.  Or, so I thought.

A couple days ago, while cleaning up around the plants Barco loves to strip of foliage, I thought I saw something shiny. When I pulled the leaves away, I found a cache of coins. It was not a leprechaun's trove, but it was good enough.

You already know Barco has a fondness for bank notes. I also knew that he loved to mouth coins -- just as he does rocks. But I had no idea he was saving up for a special occasion.

Perhaps, he was planning on running away. Or buying his girlfriend a new collar. Or, far more likely, a trip to the pet store for a bag of rawhide bones.

He watched me retrieve what he had stolen and looked absolutely perplexed at what those coins were doing in the plants. "Steve, I wonder who put those there? Probably a cat. Or a squirrel."

The coins are back in my pocket. But the dog may have a good idea. The best place for my money may be to bury it in a hole in the ground.

And, if you see a young golden retriever driving a green Escape, you will know he has advanced from misdemeanors to grand theft auto.

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