Yesterday, through no fault of my own, this Mother Hen was transformed into a vitriolic shrew.
“What?” you may ask. “You? So calm… so cheerful… a veritable font of positivity?”
It all started when I needed to transfer money from my business account to my personal account. I was out shopping with my daughter, it was payday, and mamma needed SHOES.
This was a shoemergency!
Anticipating no problems, I confidently entered my HSBC bank branch in hopes of paying myself and shuffling some shoe cash. For those of you who, like me, are plagued with incessant friendliness and an easygoing nature, you may want to take notes at this point: My transformation from pushover to shrew came in 6 easy steps:
Step One: I attempted to use not 1, not 2, but 3 of the “automated machines” in the front of the bank, none of which would comply with my request to transfer funds. Oh, the machines told me my money was there – it was THERE. But they could not, would not, transfer it. No way, no how.
Step Two: There were several computers lining the opposite wall for online transactions, advertised as “The Easiest Way to Bank With HSBC!” I bank online all the time, no problem. However, since I had not brought my whizzy whiz gig magical “internet key” with me, this was out of the question. Who carries their internet key with them? With my WIFI-ready phone, if I had my internet key with me, wouldn’t I have already made the transfer?? Duh.
Step Three: I went to the counter with both of my debit cards (business and personal), a chequebook, 3 forms of ID, fingerprints, and a whole body full of blood samples. “Excuse me,” I said politely, “but I would like to transfer £xxx from my business account into my personal account. It shouldn’t be a problem – both accounts are held here.”
The girl behind the counter stared at me blankly from behind her round glasses and glanced briefly at the cards I slid through the security window. She slid them right back. “You’ll need to talk to someone who can do it,” she replied. I was at the counter. She was a bank teller. From my standpoint, SHE was the “one who could do it.”
From her standpoint, I was obviously wrong. “You’ll have to talk to someone over there,” she said, and returned to her computer screen. I’m sure Candy Crush Saga couldn’t be left waiting.
Step Four: Growing peeved now, I marched back toward the front of the bank, where a very kind and helpful bank assistant materialized out of thin air. I explained my need to pay myself from my business account. “NO PROBLEM!” she assured me, ushering me to yet another machine – this time a telephone. “You can transfer money from your business account using the Telephone Banking Service!” Oh how exciting. The machines were useless, I am suspicious that the teller might have just undergone a lobotomy, this lady was obviously working in the bank and had loads of time on her hands, yet here I was, having to call someone on the telephone to do my banking.
Honestly – with 99.999999% of Britons carrying their own personal little Ma Bell in their pocket or purse, is it really necessary to have a Telephone Banking point in your local branch? Don’t you think, if I could use phone banking, I would have done it already on MY OWN PHONE?
Nevertheless, I picked up the phone, navigated the 32 menu options necessary in order to speak to a human, and voila, a very cheerful man offered to help me transfer my money. I could hear him tap tapping away and hoped he was not playing Candy Crush. “Oh, I’m sorry,” he said at length. “It doesn’t appear you are REGISTERED for telephone banking…” “Can I register now?” “I’m sorry – all I can do is post you the application forms…”
He could post the forms. As in, mail them. Now, that was TRULY helpful! If you work in any Customer Service capacity, I hope you are taking notes here. This stuff is the gold that careers are built on.
At this point, feeling my shoe-shopping trip slipping through my poor, broke fingers, I was getting a tad on the tetchy side. I tersely thanked him for nothing and, after an obligatory and thoroughly insincere thanks, put the phone down rather harder than I intended to.
Step Five: I returned to my bovine and vague teller. She looked up from her game. I gave her a deposit slip and a cheque that needed to go into our account and she started working on that. It would take days to clear so was, in the short term, utterly useless, but hey – it was quicker than POSTING the deposit. Once again, I explained my need to transfer funds. Was there any way I could do it here? She froze, a very dim “deer in the headlights” look on her face, and said nothing. Literally, nothing. For like – AGES. Whatever had I done to frighten the poor thing? Was it my TONE?
At this point, I was really, really getting angry. At length, I rolled my eyes and snapped, “Nevermind. Just deposit the cheque and I’ll try to find someone here who knows what they are doing…”
At which point the very large and intimidating bank manager appeared, quite literally out of nowhere, directly behind me. (Where do these people hide? It’s witchcraft, I tell you! Witchcraft!)
My guess is that our dim teller pushed the red button under her counter in response to my shrill and repeated request to move my OWN money from my OWN account to my other OWN account. It was practically criminal. The SWAT team would be here any minute. “Can I help you, madam?” he asked politely.
There it was. The M word. Yes, I was being a right “Madam” at this point, and I am not proud of it. But seriously, people. This would test the patience of the Pope! I had been here now a full 20 minutes, my blood pressure was rising, sugar was dropping like a stone, and lunch would be impossible without some MONEY in my account.
Fuelled by adrenaline now, I explained the situation as calmly as possible between clenched teeth, and the manager ushered me back to the front of the bank, where, apparently, the Gods of Business Banking carry out secret meetings inside the Grey Cubicles of Mystery. I was kindly instructed to add my name to the list of other people waiting to talk to the Gods of Business Banking and wait my turn. (Evidently, the Plebs of Personal Banking are not allowed to enter the holy sanctum. Business accounts can only be addressed in a Grey Cubicle of Mystery.)
Step Six: I was eventually ushered into a Cubicle of Mystery, where a Business Banking Goddess offered to help me. She frowned at my UK driving license and asked 20 questions about my place of birth. Yes, I am American. Yes I live here. Yes, I OCCASIONALLY visit America. Only occasionally. No, I do not live there. Yes I HAVE lived there, just not anymore. (I was born there, remember?)
She would need approval from the manager to make a transfer, since I was not UK born. (I wanted to remind her that she herself was obviously not UK born either, if her Middle Eastern accent was any clue, but I thought better of it. One red button pushed in a day is my limit.)
At long, long last, I had Manager Approval to move money from MY OWN BANK ACCOUNT to MY OTHER OWN BANK ACCOUNT. “For this service,” my foreign-born Bank Goddess reminded me, “there will be a fee of £10…”
Telephone banking would have been free.
Internet banking would have been free (curse you, evil internet key and your evil dark magic!).
To talk to the Goddess of Banking in a Grey Cubicle of Mystery and practically undergo a cavity search on account of my American-ness, it cost me a tenner. Seriously. I could not make this up, I really couldn’t.At the end of the day, this shrew was eventually tamed. She paid her fees and made the transfer, thanked the Goddess of Banking and waved goodbye to the bank manager, who had assumed bouncer duty outside the Cubicle of Mystery.
A sushi lunch and 4 pair of shoes later, I was a new woman.
- Featured image: Liz Taylor in “The Taming of the Shrew.” I looked EXACTLY like that. (Except for the cleavage – whoah!)
- bank bouncer: crowdtheories.com
- shoes: allforfashiondesign.com
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