Amateur Hour in Bali’s Banking Sector

By Richard Boughton

My wife has newly secured a job here in Bali, and that’s good news. She had recently been back to America for the same purpose but had been unable in three months to find work there.

It seems the land of milk and honey is serving only skim these days. Ultimately my wife returned to Bali because she ran out of money in America. Imagine that.

Things had begun to look bleak, and actually as if I might have to find work myself (God forbid), but then this job at a bank came up and given her past experience and areas of expertise, she happily accepted the offer.

Well, ostensibly so, anyway. For it soon became clear that satisfying the paperwork requirements associated with the bank’s hiring process would be no simple matter. Rather, she must produce a dizzying body of evidence regarding her citizenship, passport, school records, marriage certificate, divorce decree from first husband – and these must all be originals, not copies.

It seems important to appreciate that these documents are spread between three countries and two oceans. How could the task be accomplished, I wondered, short of employing the services of some agency specialising in pursuing the tortured twists of convoluted paper trails – the CIA, for instance, or Scotland Yard, or the IRS. I guess this is one of the reasons people in Indonesia simply pay someone to tidy such matters. It’s the only way around impossibility.

Nonetheless, my wife did not lose her patience, but went about the necessary steps, mired in a virtual quicksand of red tape, with a determination and resolve which alone would have justified hiring her on the spot for the position of her choice.

I suppose a lot of these “investigations” go on behind the scenes in the American job market, carried out by personnel employees named Jane and Beth; but when the whole mess is put in front of you like this – when the whole mess is dropped into one’s own hands – well, it’s daunting. My compliments, therefore, to Jane and Beth, those unsung heroes of the modern-age human resources department.

Despite these difficulties, the necessary histories were gathered and my sweetheart was set to begin her new career as “Relationship Manager” at one of Bali’s newer yet more prestigious of banks. “The sky is the limit!” she wrote on her Facebook page.

Imagine her surprise, then, as she entered the bank, arriving early the first day, to find that her office was … well, that she had no office. Nor did she have a computer. Or a telephone. Rather, she was expected, as she learned on specific enquiry, to sort of lurk about the general premises. She was to provide herself with certain desk implements, such as a pencil box, a notepad, and appointment book, perhaps a stapler, and these she was to carry with her as she lurked.

Oh, the desk and the computer were sure to arrive in time. It’s just that no one could say when. Welcome to the world of high finance in Bali.

Additionally, my wife was to provide herself with a wardrobe of uniforms. Everyone who works in Bali, as you may have noticed, has a uniform. These are generally fashioned from thick material meant for wear in icy climates. Bank employees – even relationship managers – are no exception to this rule. Luckily, however, the bank is equipped with air conditioning. And also with two microwave ovens that do not work.

We have a vision of the modern world here in Bali. We know what it looks like; we can almost envision the thing in place. It’s just that it hasn’t quite arrived yet, just like my wife’s desk and computer.

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Practical Paradise

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