First, don’t believe anyone sitting in front of a computer who tells you “It will only be a second.”
My brother dropped me off at the bank while he did some business at the drug store. We are both old, impatient and we try to keep our lives simple because we don’t do well with complexity, physical or mental.
“All I have to do,” I told my brother, “is close an account.” The deceit, it turned out, was in the “all.” I went to the bank teller’s window, pulled out two check books. “I want to close this one and put what’s there into this one.” It was simple. I thought I needed an account for my personal stuff and one for business. It turned out to be a hassle and my business was about as far from high finance as one could get. One account would do. Couldn’t a teller accomplish that simple task?
No. I had to go talk to a guy in a suit at a desk. “I’ll just be a second,” he said, sitting down, keys clicking, eyes squinting at his computer. He had questions. “Everything’s the same,” I told him.” I hadn’t changed my name ever, or my address, or email address, or phone number in 25 years. Nonetheless his response was a lot of clicks on the keyboard and more questions and do I want this or that. “No, no, this is easy,” I repeated. “I want to close this account and put the balance in this one. That’s all.” I wanted a nap too, but I kept that to myself.
“This will take just a second.” Click, click. While he clicked and squinted, a conservatively dressed woman walked up to us. The guy stood up. I stood up. My mother raised me right. “This is Miss ‘So-and So.’ She’s the branch manager.”
“Nice to meet you,” I said, trying to figure out why we would need a branch manager. I’d already graduated to a guy in a suit. Were these people merely lonely?
The manager and I shook hands and eyed each other. I remembered from a past life that business people exchanged business cards. But I didn’t have any. We’d have to forgo the ritual.
There was not a lot to say. I looked around for my brother. Since I wasn’t at the counter or sitting out in the open I feared he had returned, didn’t see me and went on.
“Are you being treated well?” she asked.
“Yes.” More silence. Was I supposed to ask about her family?
“Just trying to simplify my accounts,” I said trying to bridge the awkward quiet. I already knew, in my heart, that wasn’t going to happen. I thought maybe they were stalling while they checked with the feds. Maybe there was a local bank robber who dressed up as an old geezer and beat people with his cane. I leaned my cane against the desk to lower the tension just in case. My mere presence is known to have made made children cry and run away.
The woman and I continued to look at each other for a while until she realized there was nothing to talk about. I suppose I could have complimented her on her scarf, but I worried about my brother worrying about me and decided not to do anything that would further slow the process down. She excused herself. The guy in the suit sat down. So did I.
“Just be a second,” he said. Again he was clicking and looking at the screen. “We’re going to make this easy for you. You won’t have to change your password.”
“Or your PIN number.”
“Why would I?” I was keeping my personal account.
“We’re opening a new account. Just a minute. It won’t take long.”
“I just want to close….”
“We’re opening an account that will be the account under which your personal account will be. It will make you a VIP."
|A VIP, Curmudgeon Or Bank Thief Suspect?|
“So by this time tomorrow, I’ll be more important than I am now?”
He laughed uneasily, going through Wagner’s Ring Cycle on his keyboard. I stood up briefly to see if I could spot my brother. He is a worrier. He was probably wandering the sidewalk in front or the parking lot in back, questioning clerks in other stores, thinking that I may have had a heart attack or something.
“I just wanted to simplify my account,” I said
“It’s better now. It’s nearly all set up.” Click, click, click. More clicks. He was on a roll.
“I didn’t realize it would take so long,” I said. “I have someone waiting.” Now I was going well past perturbed and ramped up to high-voltage worry about my brother panicking and calling the police to help him search for my body.
“Just a second,” the man said. Click click click. “We’re getting this all straightened out. You’re getting the VIP status. Click, click, click. He slid his chair back near the giant printer and we waited until a couple of sheets spat out. He looked them over — a man concerned with detail. I was ready to bolt. I stood.
I looked for security. Would I be shot before I hit the door? I saw my brother. He wasn’t happy to see me. It would have been better if I were found sprawled out between cars in the parking lot.
“We’re done,” the man in the suit said. He had some sort of exit speech that trailed off as I departed. I started to breathe and thought, well at least it’s done. And soon the two of us old geezers could make a break for it.
The next day I checked the accounts on my computer. The account that was supposed to be closed wasn’t. The balance wasn’t transferred. I transferred it. (duh) A couple of days later I received a new debit card. I have no idea whether it replaces the old one or if it’s connected to the strange, additional master account that makes me a VIP. A day after that I received an envelope from the bank. It had tabs and stickum and instructions in microscopic gray print that could only be read by a jeweler and opened by someone with an advanced engineering degree. Inside was my NEW PIN number. I didn’t want a new card, a new PIN number, a new account.
Any attempt at simplification only complicates things.