Be warned, this post is pretty long, but very empty of anything to do with New York. I feel the need to express my wrath at the STUPID BANK, and it took longer to explain than I expected.
Acquiring the purse pretty much cleaned out my American money. So, I went to a bank machine, not thinking anything of it. I hid the buttons as I pressed them, as per usual, went through the ATM process. Aaaandddd… nada. The transaction you have requested could not be completed at this time. Oh.
I didn’t really think all that much of it, because sometimes cards from my bank (one that doesn’t exist in the states at all) have a tendency to act up. I thought to myself – I’ll try another bank, a different bank. The next three banks I tried over the course of the afternoon all gave me the same response… except they didn’t even let me get to the point of actually plugging in how much money I wanted. I was getting a bit on edge, here. My phone, even if it wouldn’t have charged me an arm and a leg (and possibly my firstborn child… did I mention that I’m with the ‘strange little man who can spin straw into gold’ phone company?… yeah… they won’t identify themselves for fear of having to give me a fully functional phone with no bugs or issues), was entirely dead. The phone at the hotel would also have charged me at least my soul (sign here, in blood please), and I kind of like that where it is. While abusing the power of Starbucks (and their free wireless) to look up restaurants for that evening, I found inspiration. My bank cards have a 1800 number… and there are payphones outside. I ventured out into the freezing wind, and huddled into the open-style phone booth. I dialled the number with numb fingers, and fumbled through my bank number and password, feeling paranoid every time someone walked behind me. I finally dialled enough random numbers that they gave me the option of talking to a customer service representative. I finally get ahold of this guy, this EVIL SOB (little did I know at the time!), and explain my issue. Namely, the lack of ability to get money out, while in a strange (and expensive) city. The conversation after that goes as follows (roughly):
Him – oh, I see what the issue is. Your card has been frozen, because you used it at a machine that may have been hacked previously.
Me – okay. But my card didn’t get hacked…
Him – nope, because we shut your card down.
Me – Great, good job. I’d like to reactivate my card.
Him – well, go to your nearest branch and show ID, and they’ll fix it.
Me – I’m in New York City. And it’s after 5pm on a Saturday.
Him – we don’t have any branches in the United States. Also, none of our branches are open past 2pm on a Saturday. And they aren’t open on Sundays either.
Me – I know. What am I supposed to do, then?
Him – go to the bank when you get home.
Me – I’m in New York, and I have no money!
Him – when you get home, then, you should go to the bank.
Me – I’m here for another two days!
… it goes on like this, with the EVIL SOB making it clear that he doesn’t have a single iota of interest in the fact that I am in a strange city in a strange country with no access to cash. I offered to give him whatever information he might require to reactivate my account… or for him to temporarily reactivate, for me to get a small and pre-specified amount of money out of a machine before it gets re-frozen… anything. I can actually understand that they can’t reactivate my card, because they want to make sure they’re reactivating it for the right person, and could just be some schmuck who somehow got ahold of Alex’s card, as well as her password, as well as extensive knowledge of all her past history (not that he’d know, since he didn’t ask me any questions to prove who I am), as well as knowing almost to the pennies how much is in my account… while in a strange city. In fact, I approve of that – it proves that they’re trying to take care of my money, which is what the bank is supposed to do. What I CANNOT understand (and, even two weeks later, this still pisses me off enormously) is how cold and completely indifferent the guy was. He didn’t even apologise for the inconvenience, or say he wished he could help, but he couldn’t reactivate my card. He just kept repeating that I should get to a branch of my bank. He made it clear that my possibly being entirley incapable of surviving in New York was none of his concern. I know I was there with friends, who would definitely have given me cash, but I could just as easily have been alone, and he didn’t know either way.
If the mastercard I had with me had been the one linked to this debit card, I’d have been sunk. As it was, I called up my 1800 number on the back of my credit card after hanging up with the EVIL SOB. I quickly explained my position while trying to bring my icy fingers back to functional temperature, and the woman on the other end of the line reassured me that my card would definitely not be cancelled or frozen. She was apologetic for my bank’s ‘customer service representative’, and his treatment of me, despite not being even remotely affiliated with that bank. She had human emotion. She gets a gold star, and as much good Karma as I can throw her way. I wish for her all good things – happiness and roses and bird-song. If she’s reading this – she’ll know I was talking with her, because I was the nearly hysteric distraught girl calling from New York… I feel like that’s not an every-day occurrence – THANK YOU. As for Evil SOB… I doubt that he remembers the conversation we had, because people who lack soul or human decency don’t care about the people they are rude to enough to keep track of how they were rude. But next time he steps in dog crap… it will be the kind that oozes up deep into the tread of your shoe, the kind whose smell never quite goes away. And they will be his favourite shoes.
End scene! The rest of the weekend is more entertaining and should be relatively rant-free, so stay tuned! Same bat time, same bat channel. But there won’t be any bats.