Swiss bankers are famed for their efficiency, a reputation for which they proved their mettle yesterday when they efficiently messed up our bank account.
Our nomadic policy is to never close a bank account, therefore, we have accounts sprinkled lightly across the globe, each with the equivalent of about $10 U.S. in them. We leave them open because extracting ourselves from foreign locales overly excites bureaucrats, leading them to fiddle with our lives. If we can subtract any bureaucrat from that merry-go-round from Hades, we do so, and the bureaucrat most easily booted is the banker.
We do not feel bad about this, because except for American banks, our experience has been that foreign bankers are out to get us.
Yesterday, we found out we were right about that.
I don’t want to go into great detail, because I am still in a chocolate-binge-hangover such that my memory of yesterday’s events is fuzzy, but the short of it is that I went to the bank to talk about closing our account, and unwittingly closed the account.
The bank teller smiled and nodded as I explained our wishes, which I emphasized were not to close the account immediately, but to inform them of the date we would close it. This is the advice we had been given by our corporate bureaucrats. We thought they were on our side, but they’re not. All bureaucrats pull together in the direction opposite that which we wish to go. But I get ahead of myself. It all seemed to go very well and I left the bank in a satisfied state of mind.
Ten minutes later at a nearby store, I tried to use my debit card, only to have it declined. Probably just a hiccup, I thought, so I returned to the bank and tried the card in the bank’s debit machine. The machine swallowed the card and ‘showed me the door’ electronically speaking.
It was then I learned the teller had smiled and nodded at me in the same way I smile and nod at French and German speakers. I really don’t have a clue what they’re saying, but it seems polite to look as though I am making an effort. This is okay in social settings or when ordering at a restaurant, but not so good in a bank.
She apologized for the mistake, and so did the manager, both smiling and nodding, mannerisms that by now were making me nervous. They explained that only my card had been “rescinded,” but my husband’s card would work and the bank account was still active. About 30 minutes later, Dave’s card was swallowed by a bank machine in the little town north of here where his office is located. Obviously, my bank machine knows his bank machine and the two had talked.
It was a bit of a problem because Dave is not big on carrying cash (my father fled Europe’s Eastern Bloc, so I always carry cash – my policy is that you never know when you’ll need to head for the hills), so Dave was effectively stranded with no train fare home. This could have been the start of a new life as a railroad panhandler looking for a few coins to help get him home – sound familiar? Who knows – maybe this is the hiccup that funnels otherwise happy functioning members of society into the street population, alcoholism and a lifetime of sleeping under bridges.
It wasn’t that bad, because he carpools with his boss, so while he would rather have come home on the train immediately to go settle things at the bank, he was stuck at work until the end of the day, which meant the bank would be closed by the time he returned. It is just as well. If he had gone to the bank, who is to say they wouldn’t have vacuumed out his pockets?