Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Your Friendly Banker

Friday night, I went to the liquor store to buy some adult beverages for Billy, myself and Billy's cousin. When the total was announced, and I counted the limp bills in my wallet, I deduced that I'd have to use my debit card to pay for the transaction.

Let me add the disclaimer that I am very organized when it comes to my money. Very organized. I keep a running, to-the-penny balance in my checkbook, I get receipts for everything, I have all my cards in their appropriate slots. Imagine my surprise, then, when I noticed my debit card missing from its comfy little spot in my pink wallet. A brief look of shock overtook my face, which was then replaced by intense concentration.

"What's wrong?" the liquor store clerk asked. She knows me. Sadly, it is possible she may know me a little too well.

"I can't seem to find my debit card," I said, as I dug through my less-organized purse.

"When was the last time you used it?" She offered, trying to help.

"Um, maybe when I got gas?" I re-enacted the last time I put gas in my car, sliding my hand - which held an imaginary debit card - into my pocket. "I always put my card in my coat pocket. Maybe it's in my other coat." I paused, mid-re-enactment, imaginary debit card not yet all the way into my coat pocket. "But no, because I put gas in my car, like, three days ago." I went through all of my motions since I paid the $800 it took to fill up my tank. "Oh!" I cried, joyous. "I know where it is!" I handed over my credit card to use instead. "It's at the bank! Across the street! I went to the ATM last night, and I was in such a hurry, I don't think I got it out of the machine. I'll just go over there and pick it up."

It should be noted here that the "bank across the street" is the bank at which I was employed up until about two months ago. So I hopped in my car and drove across the street (Milford is very busy on Friday nights. You needn't chance the certain death that is crossing Harford Street on foot after dark. Plus, I'm lazy.) to go to the drive thru window of my old stompin' grounds. I pulled up to the window, prepared to take shit for becoming one of the airheaded customers we used to secretly bash who leave their cards in the machine.

"Well, well, well," my old coworkers voice crackled through the speaker. "Look what we have here." The look on her face said Go to Hell, and her voice implied that she would rather have been yanking out her own toenails with pliers than working the window at five o'clock on a Friday. I wondered if her verbal indifference to her job was how she handled me because she knew me, or if that's how she handled all of the customers. And then I wondered, if she handles everyone that way, how do they have any customers left at all? "Did you leave something here?" She said. Condescending doesn't quite capture her tone.

"Yes, it appears that I did," I said, trying to be as kind as possible. "Looks like I left my card in the machine last night."

"You did," she confirmed. "But I don't know where it is." She made no move to help, no offer to check. Nothing, just stood there and stared at me and waited for me to drive away.

We stared at each other for a minute, impatience causing my eyes to grow just a little bit wider with each passing second.

I finally broke the combination silence/staring contest. "Well, could you check?"

She let out a gruff sigh. "Hold on," and she hefted her body from its resting position on the counter before her. She disappeared from my view, and sent someone else to take her place.

The branch manager, the trollesque woman who tortured me for two and a half of my four years of employment there, bent the microphone down to reach her squat little body. "We don't know where it is," she informed me. Oh, okay. Great then. Thanks for all your help. Of course, this is the same woman who, when I told her I'd be leaving, responded not with "Good luck" or "We'll be sorry to lose you," or "Thanks for your dedication," or even "it's about fucking time you got out of my life," but with "Whose name did you draw for Secret Santa? Because I don't want anyone to go without a gift." Clearly, she's thoughtful.

"Well..." I said, slowly, so she was sure to understand. "Fiiinnndd iiitttt."

She cackled. She thought I was being "funny." "Myrna put it somewhere," she announced helplessly. "Maybe she locked it up. We don't know. Call in the morning. She'll be here."

"Awesome," I said, sarcasm dripping from my vocal chords. "Thanks for all your help."

"Have a good night," she said. Insincerely, I might add.

I drove away pissed, but taking heart in the fact that the woman to whom she referred, Myrna, liked me very much when I worked there. She probably locked it in her drawer for safe-keeping. I figured I'd pick it up in the morning.

When, as instructed, I called on Saturday, I got the same hobbit who'd first greeted me at the window.

"Oh hi," she said after I introduced myself, her voice suddenly free of the artificial cheer she'd used during her Thanks-for-calling-our-bank-and-how-can-I-help-you salutation. Without my asking, she offered the little knowledge she had of my situation: "Myrna sent the card to the main branch."

"She what?" I interrupted, incredulous.

"She sent. it. to. the. main. branch," she stated, slowly, to be sure I understood.

"Yeah, I got that part. Why would she do that?"

"Well, you didn't call..." her voice trailed off. I got the sense that she was delighted with the aggravation she was causing me.

"It was there for less than a day," I argued. "Well...Do I need to order a new one?"

"I don't know. I think they mail it back to you. I'm not sure." I could see her shrugging her hunched shoulders. She offered no more.

"Well, wow. Gee. Again, you've been more than helpful," I said. "Thanks." And I hung up.

I sat there in bed, seething that I would be sans debit card for a week, maybe more. Oh, if, of course, they send it back to me, which the branch employees didn't know. Which they should know because I know that they only destroy the card if the branch employees instruct them to do so.

I sat back and thought of all of the times I'd been instructed to call some stranger or another to inform them that their ATM card had been captured, and since it was our bank's card, we'd be happy to hold it for them if they'd like to come pick it up. I thought of all of the orphaned ATM cards that sat around in that branch for months, waiting for their rightful owners to come and claim them. And did my phone ring? No. Did anyone call offering to hold it for me? No. Even though they know I live in Milford and drive by that bank at least once a day? No. Did they think that maybe it'd be a tad inconvenient for me to have to go a week without my card? No. Sure, I made the stupid mistake of leaving it there, but thinking about all the times they saved someone else's card made me want to puke.

So now, I have a deposit to make, and rather than taking it into the branch, I'm toying with the idea of putting the deposit into their convenient "Night drop" (where you "drop" your deposit into a box over "night" and the tellers enter the deposit first thing in the morning, then send you your receipt, in case you're unfamiliar with this very technical banking jargon), just so that I can inscribe the envelope with a snarky comment that says something like: I'm guessing I don't have to ask you to MAIL me the receipt.



portuguesa nova said...

What the hell? It is like you defected from a cult or something.

Change banks, and send somebody a letter saying why you're doing it.

portuguesa nova said...

And, if this bank in question is a big chain of banks, in addition to sending a letter to the actual bank, send it to the president at the corporate HQ. I have worked at two headquarters of very giant giant organizations and it is the lowly shmucks like me who open the mail and who revel in the glory of getting to show letters like these to the President. Chances are very good it is like this everywhere and that someone important will see it and somehow, someone will get in trouble...well deserved trouble.

Kristi said...

Carp Laurie
Change Banks!!
Take your money elsewhere. They obviously don't want it.
You were much more polite than I EVER would have been. knowing the system and all i would have flipped a lid!
Get out. Got to a credit union.
Fuck the Bank!

Laurie said...

Hahah! Everyone's told me the same thing...To leave. And, trust me, I really want to...It's just that - and I hate to admit this - before I left, I ordered like four boxes of fancy-pants checks as an employee so I wouldn't have to pay for them. Now I have about $100 worth of checks that'll go to complete waste if I leave. And, as horrible as it is, it's keeping me from taking my money out! Isn't that horrible!

But I DID switch branches. I decided to no longer deal with the bitches I used to work with.