Is it just me, or has anyone else noticed that life seems a bit more complicated than in days of yesteryear?
For example, I went to a bank to open a checking account the other day. When I opened my first account, decades ago, it took about 15 minutes. I gave the lady my drivers license, signed a card and was given a small book of checks. Back then, we had our choice of check colors… as long as it was blue; but now…
I entered the bank, with my drivers license in hand and a desire for an account. I was greeted by a clipboard requiring my name, the date and time, who I wished to see, why I had come to the bank and a partridge in a pear tree.
Noting the 12 names ahead of mine, I scanned the room to try to match them with the faces. A strange urge came over me, “Gomez party of 4, your table is ready…” but I resisted and took a seat among a band of some rather unsavory toddlers.
Fortunately I did not have to wait long. Time always passes quickly when one counts the holes in overhead ceiling tiles.
A thirtyish, ex-military type, corporate executive wannabe tried to pronounce my name; poorly. As I approached, she extended her hand, quickly. I wasn’t sure if she wanted to check my waistband for weapons or offer a handshake. Just to be safe, I put my hand in hers.
She asked, “What may I do for you?”
I thought to myself, “You can avoid breaking the rest of my knuckles!” but said, “Checking account, open.”
She pointed to a chair, at a desk and said, “Sit,” much the way I do to my dog, then added, “I’ll be with you in a minute.”
This gave me a chance to realign the joints in my fingers. When she returned she asked, “Now sir, which type of account?”
“First, the ‘sir’ isn’t necessary. I’m not that old.” I protested.
“It’s part of our procedure; sir.” she replied with the warmth of a Buffalo blizzard.
“Oh,” I cleverly replied. “Well, I’d like to open a checking account.”
“What TYPE, sir?”
“Uh, the type you put money into and write checks,” I replied; totally unaware of the conflict I had become a party to.
“SIR, this institution offers 55 different TYPES of checking accounts!” Miss Congeniality stated.
“Well, I only need one, thank you. Maybe you could tell me something about EACH of them,” I responded, fully expecting her to hand me some sort of brochure. But she actually began describing the attributes of EACH one.
After about a dozen, and her showing no signs of verbal exhaustion, I interrupted, “How about the first one?”
“Yes sir, that would be the ‘Silver Eagle Plan’, no interest, $10 monthly fee with a minor charge for deposits and withdrawals, no minimum balance, over 40 but under 50 years old, head of household, ATM card, no overdraft protection, basic service,” she stated without reading from a paper. Maybe they use hypnosis.
“What if I wanted interest?” I inquired.
“That would be the ‘Auburn Falcon Plus Plan’ if you maintain a minimum daily balance of $5000. 2.3% adjusted quarterly,” she rattled off.
“2.3% is hardly worth it,” I casually stated; without saying that I’ve never had $5000 in a checking account. “Oh, I’ll need an ATM card for my wife. She collects plastic.”
“Than you want the ‘White Dove Bonus Plan’,” she stated with the tone of the time and temperature recording.
“Who feeds all these birds? Maybe you have something in royal purple with lace,” I asked, which was met by a stare which felt like frozen daggers.
Changing the subject quickly, “A friend told me that your ATMs were down because the LA earthquake damaged the satellite link between here and the head office.”
“You have a friend who has an account with us?” she asked, “I’ll make a note of that, sir.” I didn’t even want to know why.
“I guess I’ll take that white bird thing.” I said, hoping to conclude this ordeal.
“The ‘WHITE DOVE BONUS PLAN’, sir,” Miss Proper countered, “Fine, may I have your documentation?”
“Identification, sir,” she stated with the efficiency of a Cuban border guard.
I laid my drivers license on the desk. She waited; apparently unsatisfied, “Sir, I will need the rest of it.”
“I only have one drivers license,” I said in a confused manner.
“We require state identification, drivers license or state photo ID; federal identification, Social Security Card and either a passport or Dept. of Immigration documents; county identification, birth certificate or alien waiver plus mail addressed to your residence; and commercial identification, 3 major credit cards; and your green card, sir,” she stated in one breath.
“WHAT?! GREEN CARD? I’m a citizen! I just happen to live in Miami!” I protested.
“In that case, may I see your drivers license, sir?” she said in a monotone that made me want to check her for a tape player. “Who is authorized to deposit to your account, sir?”
After thinking for a moment, I said, “Anyone who wants to!”
“Would you care to establish electronic transfer deposits, sir?” Miss Ice asked.
“But I thought only money could be deposited.” I remarked.
“Of course you did,” she stated, starting to show signs of annoyance, “What about a CD, sir?”
“No thanks, I haven’t bought a player yet,” I said.
“What would you like to deposit today, sir?”
“I’ve got $500 in $50’s here,” I said proudly.
“Sir, I’m not sure we can accept CASH,” she said, showing the first sign of not knowing something, “Don’t you have a check?”
“No, that’s why I’m opening a checking account.” I said sarcastically.
“Let me check on that,” she said as she scurried off; stopping for a moment to add, Sir.”
Well, to make a short story long, I did open my account, in just under an hour and a half. Today’s checking accounts are a lot like today’s computer programs. They have lots of features, but I’m afraid to try them out.
Someone else actually finished opening my account. It seems Miss Congeniality went into her supervisor’s office and from what I heard the paramedics say, she had a nervous breakdown.
I guess the banking business can be hard on people; and definitely more complicated than the days of yesteryear!