Thursday, July 6, 2017

Here's How it Went Down at the Bank

I'm sitting in the parking lot of Wells Fargo at 8:50 am, desperate to be the first order of business for the Pump and Three Chopt branch brain trust. I'm quietly rehearsing my pithy takedowns when I see a post from my wife reminding me of the money verse from last Thursday's bible study...James 1:19
My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry...

Great, I thought. What a lousy time to have gotten involved in a small group bible study at Hope. Now, on top of bank problems, I've got the specter of spiritual accountability hanging over my head!

So, I take a couple of big, deep breaths, slap on the phoniest smile I own and boldly walk through the doors with great expectations. Just my luck, Clarise has the day off, so the assistant manager listens to my case and leads me over to the desk of an eager young man with a broad smile who will help me get everything cleared up. The assistant manager explains the situation of the double mortgage payment debits to my new smiling friend, who promptly picks up the phone and calls someone in the bill pay department. When he begins to speak, my spirits dropped considerably. This eager young man had the thickest Pakistani accent I have ever heard. I was sitting less than five feet from the man and could hardly understand a word he said, how was someone a couple of states away going to decipher his gibberish across a phone line?? My suspicions were confirmed when it took him three attempts to communicate my account number to the poor sap on the other end..

...No no...dhat was V as in Rickter, not B like in DOB...

Despite this setback, I remained confident. Surely, my bank would be able to correct so obvious an error as this in no time. My fake smile was positively beaming at this point.

Then, it all went wrong. Very. Very. Wrong.

Without wading deep into the weeds of bank-talk, let's just say that in modern finance, the efficiencies of electronic banking are very much a one way street. Ever since the advent of the internet it seems that my bank has been hounding me to go electronic! I have been told of the many benefits to be had from leaving old school paper banking behind. Why, Mr. Dunnevant, imagine the speed with which transactions would fly from one of your accounts to the next without having to wait on the US mail? And, think of the trees you'll be saving?! Think of the children, Mr. Dunnevant. You want our planet to be healthy for your children, don't you??

But there's always a catch, always some absurdity just around the corner anytime somebody pleads with you to do it for the children. In my case, it became apparent after poor Rashid spent thirty minutes on the phone translating my problem into fluent Urdu for not one, not two, but three separate bank functionaries, that while the bank recognizes their role in this situation, and has ever intention of making this customer whole, unfortunately, the second mortgage payment could not possibly be returned to my balance until the passage of ten working days.

Now, upon receiving this vexing news, things began to go in slow motion. A seed of righteous fury had germinated inside my brain and was morphing rapidly into what very easily could have become a raging spittle-spewing tirade. But then...just like Tom Hanks' character in A League of Their Own, when Evelyn, his right fielder who keeps missing the cutoff man, and he gets ready to unload on her but then remembers that the last time he did she had burst into tears, and he had had to remind the entire team that there, in fact, was no crying in baseball!!!!...yeah, just like that, a weird, strained calmness came over me. The entirety of my response is as follows:

Rashid, is it? Yes, Rashid...let me see if I'm understanding you correctly. You're saying that despite the fact that Wells Fargo can remove money from my account in literally a nanosecond, it will take two entire weeks for them to put the money back into my account. Is this what you are saying, Rashid?

Rashid nodded in the affirmative, as his eyes took on a deer in the headlights look.

There was a time in my life when this might have triggered what people in the banking trade call a situation, as in...Hey, Fred, we might have a situation over here with this Dunnevant guy...But, today was not that time. I lowered my head, shuffled my feet a little and replied with all of the sincerity of a politician...

"Listen, I really do appreciate all of your efforts here, and I know that this isn't your fault...but Rashid, this is exactly why people hate banks."

That was it. I didn't even raise my voice. It was almost like a miracle. The branch manager then stepped into the void left by my unanswerable factual statement with a workable plan to work around the rules blah, blah, blah, and get this fixed by no later than Tuesday of next week. They begged my forebearnace and assured me that once the dust had all settled, I would be charged absolutely nothing for the trouble caused by their mistake.

So, there you go. As it turned out, I was, in fact, slow to speak, and slow to get angry. Apparently, there's something to this bible study thing.