You have no idea of the kind of bureaucratic hoops we have to jump through to get simple things done here. Yesterday I had to go and pay a bill for the irrigation water and went along to the bank in Alhaurin. In the good old days I could pay it in Cajamar without any undue fuss. But not any more, now these bills need to be paid at Banco Sabadel.

That little hurdle hardly compares to the obstacles that Banco Sabadel puts in the way. When I reached the front of the queue and presented the bill and some cash, the guy at the till pointed out a notice stuck onto the wall. These bills, according to the bank´s timetable, can only be paid between 11.30 and 2.00 pm on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays between the 11th and 24th of each month.

Needless to say I was outside of the allocated time. It was Tuesday at 11.45 but on the So the guy gives me this withering look as though I was putting him to no end of trouble. And then he said grudgingly that he would do it, but only this once.

Who the hell comes up with these crazy rules? I can only imagine that the staff has periodic meetings to discuss new and innovative ways of inconveniencing their customers. Maybe it was the cashier himself who came up with this particular masterpiece of officious nonsense. I can just see him putting up his hand and saying “why don´t we restrict the times people can pay bills? We could make sure it can only be done on certain days AND we could restrict the times AND we could even say there are a whole bunch of working days when we just won´t do it!”

And, of course, this brainchild would be the envy of his peers who would have continued to sit around the table thinking “why didn´t I think of that?” No doubt his bosses would have stood up and taken note. This guy is razor sharp! Maybe he should be fast tracked towards rapid promotion?

These were among the cynical thoughts running through my mind as I looked at the guy on the other side of the counter. He was wearing kind of self-satisfied smirk as though he felt he was automatically getting himself included on my Christmas card mailing list because of his willingness to bend some stupid rules for me. What he didn´t realise was how close I was to leaping over and grabbing him by the throat. I only held myself back because a notice next to the water bill payment schedule stated there were also strict rules about when clients are permitted to throttle the staff.

Once the bill was paid I pointed out that people like me who work for a living may not be able to slip in at the prescribed times. He was ready for this one. He said “the best thing is to set up a direct debit payment with the irrigation water people” and then it dawned on me that maybe this was the real reason for the bank´s ridiculous timetable.

Maybe he was right, though. Perhaps a direct debit would be the way to go. I could go to the office of the irrigation people, who are also based in Alhaurin and ask for the forms to fill in. But then I remembered that the office would now be closed. They only open up between 2 and 4 am on the night of a full moon.