Crazy Aunt Purl told a story today about a public relations job she once held at a newspaper. First of all, I laughed until I darn near fell out of my chair. Y’all, seriously. She is funny.
But this post also brought back a host of memories. Buried deeeeeeep in the dark recesses of my resume is the curious line item of Customer Service Representative, MegaBank.com. Yes, that’s right! Your faithful correspondent burned a couple years of her life answering phones and trying to help people figure out why, if you have $200 in your checking account and write $650 in checks…you run into a problem.
Even better! I was so good at dealing with The Crazy that I got promoted! I was the person other reps transferred customers to when they got out of control with the crazy. I was very good at managing irrational or just really stupid people. I was known for being able to settle down even the most hysterical of brides two days before their wedding when the florist called to say THE CHECK BOUNCED and OH MY GOD do you UNDERSTAND how AWFUL this IS?!?!
So this guy calls in. He says his deposit went missing. He put it in the ATM at this address, and it hasn’t shown up in his account. He is understandably perturbed. He becomes more perturbed as it turns out that it isn’t just one deposit that has gone missing. It’s six deposits. $250 each, all of them AWOL. Five in one ATM, and one in another. He became increasingly upset and then one of the other reps asked him if he was quite sure he had put it in MegaBank.com ATMs and well…he got transferred to me, PDQ.
At the time, deposits did go missing from ATMs with alarming frequency. Of course, “missing” was relative. Sometimes they weren’t missing at all – but the branch “got busy” or “forgot” or something equally stupid and inexcusable, and the “missing” deposits would be found sitting on / in / under / around somebody’s desk a few days later. Or, in one memorable case, an entire cart of the things had been shoved into the safety deposit vault and forgotten for two weeks. (Which in banking is like, two years.)
But one guy losing six deposits over a period of six weeks? Weird, man, weird. And my Truth-O-Meter indicated that the guy wasn’t fibbing – he really had lost $1,500 in those ATMs. I promised him I would follow through on it for him, and one thing that has remained the same from then to now is that I am part bulldog. Once I get my teeth into something, you about have to cut off my head to get me to let go.
So there I was. Standing at the desk of our head researcher shoving the research ticket under his nose (again) and saying, “Dude. Seriously. This is ugly. Something is really wrong here!”
Suddenly, he stopped doodling and sat up. He stared wide-eyed into the distance. I realized immediately that he was about to be Brilliant. (Oh mama, was he ever delicious when he was being Brilliant!) (Yes. I had a crush on him. And he thought I was a ‘cute kid’. Oh, cursed youth!!!)
“Oh…wait-a-minute…” he said breathlessly.
And then, he jumped to his feet, grabbed his car keys and his jacket and took off.
About three hours later, he came back and slapped five envelopes down on my desk. The missing deposits, in all their crumpled glory. Wherever had he found them?
Would you believe…stuffed into the tiny not-even-big-enough-to-be-a-crack slit between the display screen and the plastic molding of the ATM?
That’s right! Mr. X had been walking up to the ATM and, rather than putting in his card and going through “all that”, he’d been taking his envelope and, with a will that truly must be admired, shoving it through that tiny crack.
Our intrepid (and delicious) researcher had gone to the branch, taken off the back panel of the ATM and found not only these five, but several dozen such deposits. A few weren’t even in envelopes – just checks that had been slipped through with ‘for deposit only’ scrawled on their backs.
So I called Mr. X, and I told him the happy news. I asked him why he had done this.
“Well,” he said slowly. “The thing is, one time? I put my number in wrong. And the machine ate my card. And I couldn’t get it back again – they had to mail it to me. So I’m afraid if I try to use it again, I’ll lose it again, because I can’t remember that number-thing. So I just…push it through the crack…and…I figured…”
His voice trailed off.
There was a long, long silence.
There I sat, one of the glibbest customer service reps MegaBank.com had. The person who dealt with the most hopeless, the most frustrated / frustrating, the thickest skulled idiots who have ever opened a checking account on this or any other planet. I had talked people down from high ledges, for Pete’s sake. When others ran out of words, I was the go-to girl.
I was speechless.
I actually made a noise that sounded like “habunah-habunah-habunah…”
It took me about four tries to say anything. I got as far as, “Well, I…”
And then, I started to laugh. I laughed until I nearly cried. I laid my head in my hands and laughed until I nearly suffocated.
And then, just as I was hiccupping into silence, he said meekly, “Well, I guess I sorta deserve that…”
And I lost it again.
When I finally pulled it together, I assured him he was not the only person who had ever done that, that in fact an awful lot of people had done so at that very ATM, but that really…uh…in future? Don’t, OK?
Thank you for calling MegaBank.com, and have a nice day.
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