The time had come, I had decided, to close my old (literally: thirty-five years) account at Humongous Bank and Trust Company (Member FDIC), for various and sundry reasons, the most important of which was the fact that in February, I opened up new accounts at Slightly Smaller Bank, N.A., leaving this one more or less lying fallow. I duly wrote to their regional headquarters requesting closure. To my amazement, they declined, for the following reason:

[W]e're currently unable to complete your request because the signature on your request doesn't match the signature in our records.

Apparently my 2010 scrawl doesn't look all that much like my 1975 scrawl, which in turn presumably doesn't look much like the 1968 signature on my Social Security card, the sort of penmanship that could easily be stamped "Nun-Approved." They offered two alternatives: resend the request, this time sealed and notarized, by God, or visit one of their convenient branches where a banker would assist me. I knew only one notary, and she's retired, so I betook myself to the second-nearest branch.

A Personal Banker intercepted me at the intake and gave me a "You what? Surely you're not serious!" sort of look. (No, her name wasn't Shirley.) She abandoned her post and directed me into the usual aquarium of a meeting room, where she would undertake the pressing task of talking me out of it.

And I have to admit, Not Shirley knew her stuff. For every argument I made, she had a reasonable counterargument. I suppose I could have mentioned TARP, obnoxious little bit of federal finagling that it was, but I remembered that while they'd taken TARP funds, they'd since paid them back, probably to get out from under the salary restrictions on the fattest cats. Besides, it was a safe bet that she'd already received the company line on that one, and I didn't particularly want to hear it.

I held my ground. She conceded defeat, sort of, and filled out a withdrawal slip for the teller. "While I'm gone," she said, "you'll get a visit from my manager."

She was as good as her word; next thing I knew, another woman had appeared at the desk, and she was prepared to wear me down to a nub. Not being particularly skilled at fiction, I wished I'd had the ability to make up some story about how I was engaged to a teller at Slightly Smaller, and, well, she insisted. And then, being more or less out of arguments, I said exactly that: that I'd wished I'd had the ability to make up some story about how I was engaged to a teller at Slightly Smaller. Would have simplified things immensely, I said. They chuckled more or less in unison, which I read as "Yeah, right."

And finally they handed over the piddling sum that I'd left in the account. It didn't occur to me until later that they'd handed me the argument I needed right there: for the month there'd been no activity, during which time I maintained a positive, but barely so, balance, they were happy to charge me twelve bucks. This wouldn't have happened with those other folks.

God forbid I should have to change banks again in another thirty-five years.

The Vent

  8 May 2010

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