The Hardest Thing We Have Done in Spain

Buying lunch tickets for my son's preschool.


Harder than renewing our residency card.

Harder than finding a house.

Harder than increasing the potencia in our house.

To buy my son lunch tickets, first, we had to find a barcode unique to his school.

Where was the barcode? Buried deep in a regional government website.

Can the school just give us a copy.

Ha, ha. No.

When I found the barcode, I printed it and took it to a CaixaBank ATM.

Now was the fun part.

I put my debit card in and scanned the barcode and tried to follow the increasingly difficult questions and instructions.

Once I'd entered my son's name and special school code, it asked for more information.

My date of birth.

My place if birth.

My tax ID.

My favorite color.

My favorite food.

A needle came out of the ATM. I didn't know ATMs could do that.

It needed a vial of my blood.

Was that really necessary?


I stuck my arm out and the needle went deep into my vein.

Once the vial was filled, I put a bandaid on the needle mark.

Okay, where were the lunch tickets?

Please try again tomorrow, the screen said. System malfunction.

I staggered home.

I don't know if I can do this, I thought. I don't know.