340 meters per second

Trust only movement. Life happens at the level of events, not of words. Trust movement.

&mdash Alfred Adler (1870-1937)

Friday, June 10, 2005

Things I hate

Why am I beset on all sides by marauding packs of filthy, avaricious, conniving, spiteful, manipulative, deceitful, low-down usurious fucks? I hate banks. I don't hate a lot of things, but I hate banks. I hate 'em I hate 'em I hate 'em I hate 'em I hate 'em I hate 'em I hate 'em...

"I know of nothing more despicable and pathetic than a man who devotes all of the hours of the waking day to the making of money for money's sake."
- John D. Rockefeller

I've been a customer of RBC for something like 15 years: I opened my first account with them when I on the cusp of adolescence. It was a simple little savings account and I used it to hold the money I made mowing lawns and shovelling driveways in my neighbourhood. At the time, a minor was only allowed to open a joint account with their legal guardian, so my mom co-signed and on my birthday she'd sometimes sneak in a little extra surprise.

The account remained basically unchanged over the next decade. I'd occasionally tweak my service pack to reflect my evolving lifestyle (e.g., from live-at-home teen to apartment-dwelling undergrad), but it was still the same savings account a twelve-year-old me had opened with his mom.

Earlier this year, it was finally impressed upon me that my primary savings account shouldn't continue to be jointly controlled by my mom. Before the 'apron strings' jokes start flying, let me be clear: she hadn't so much as looked at its contents in years and I'd forgotten about her co-signatory status until a bank teller mentioned it. I communicated with my branch, my mom signed on the dotted line and the account became mine. This was about four months ago.

(bear with me, this is actually going somewhere.)

Now, RBC was never a great bank. Their interest rates were crappy and the service was spotty. Given the string of sweaty, dirty jobs I worked for a number of years, I'd often walk into my branch looking a little worse for wear; and every time, those pompous, self-important wankjobs behind the counter would give one of those imperceptible sniffs of disapproval before asking me--disbelievingly--if there was anything they could help me with. Right, like there's a chance in hell they'd refuse my money. Greasy, two-faced jagoffs, the lot of them--but what am I gonna do? I've got to bank somewhere. I can scatter the bones of my savings for the vultures at CIBC or the jackals at BOM--for 99% of the population, choosing banks is like choosing the colour of your mugger's shirt.

Anyway, it's not pretentiousness I'm here to complain about; it's incompetence and arrogance.

So May 27th I walk into the RBC branch on Guy street, below Sherbrooke. I was there to deposit my paycheck (I hadn't activated direct deposit with my new employer yet) just like normal. My 'home' branch is in NDG, but the one on Guy is close to my office.

The teller--and for the record, I'm not blaming her: she was new and ignorant and ultimately blameless--frowned at her monitor (I fucking hate it when they do that) and informed me that I'd closed my account with them the previous Friday, May 20. Ergo, she couldn't accept my cheque. Ispo facto, I couldn't pay rent. Et cetera ad nauseam.

When I protested, she repeated. When I expleted, she retreated. I could feel the little walnut-sized muscles at the hinge of my jaw tensing and swelling, but I kept my composure and informed her that
  1. No, I fucking hadn't closed my account;
  2. I hadn't even been in the province on May 20th;
No dice. Her manager was equally intractable, dispassionately informing me that their records couldn't possibly be mistaken. "Aha," I cut in, thinking I'd found the loophole, "but it must be mistaken, because I'm standing before you now--a customer in need of service--with a cheque in my hand. If your records are correct, that would make me either a liar or an idiot. Which is it?"

I figured that (in front of an audience of other customers) there wasn't any way they could escape that logic: they'd be forced to help me. I was going to nip this Hellerian perpetual-motion paradox in the bud before it spiralled maniacally out of control and dragged my sanity with it.

Much like Obi-Wan Kenobi, I underestimated the power of true evil.

They had absolutely no problem (moral, ethical or logical) shrugging their shoulders and robotically dictating the 1-800 number for customer help. I'm standing in their fucking building and they want me to use a goddamn phone. If there were any justice in the world, I would've been blasted by gamma rays years ago--justice, thy colour is green.

So I'm standing there, useless cheque in hand, and I decide to play my last card: where the hell was my money? This hadn't been a 'dead' account, it wasn't empty... where was whatever funds had been in there? check this out: in their limitless wisdom, the beancounters at RBC had decided that since this account had at one time been a joint account, the remaining money should be placed into the care of the other person, i.e. my mom. That's right--the next time my mom went into the bank (on or around May 25), she was handed a slip of paper and told to sign for some money that was being placed into her account because the account that she had once jointly owned had just been closed.

What if this had been my entire savings, instead of a relatively small amount of money?

What if this had been my ex-wife, not my mom? (Thanks to my baby for making this point.)

What if I could afford a lawyer, you thieving hucksters?

I left, cheque in hand, nursing a murderous rage. Kafka was a starry-eyed optimist. That these institutions can manipulate, disparage, humiliate and ignore their customers with such abandon is a testament to our paralysing lack of imagination. I wanted to smash something, but instead I did the only thing I could:

I walked into a TD branch office on the way home.


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