If I had a gun and knew how to use it, and if I wasn’t afraid of being arrested or of having to do community service by picking up trash on I-75, I would shoot out that stupid red and yellow Wells Fargo sign which is now attached to what was formerly my beautiful faux antebellum Ansley Park Wachovia branch office.
It’s not that I can’t accept change when it comes to my change. When The Big Kat and I first married and moved to good old Warner Robins, we kept what little money we had at Citizens’ State Bank, our hometown institution. As the years went by, Citizens’ State was bought out by First Atlanta, and then First Atlanta was bought out by Wachovia, kind of like that whole little fish getting eaten by a bigger fish thing. Survival of the fittest fish.
I was fine with all of that. I think I remember some minor annoyances with ordering new checks or a few fee anomalies, but there was nothing that made me want to throw eggs at a drive-through window or paint graffiti on a bankly exterior.
Until Wells Fargo came along.
At first I was relatively happy with this newest bank buy-out because Wells Fargo is a west coast outfit and I thought it would make banking in Portland less of a problem.
Boy was I wrong. So far, banking anywhere has been a big old enormous problem, and one I didn’t see coming.
It started the day I had jury duty. I woke up to a stormy morning, one that made me wonder why I ever thought I wanted to be a good American by registering to vote when I was eighteen. In the driving rain, I had to make my way to find the correct parking lot over by Turner Field so I could catch the shuttle to the Fulton County Courthouse. Nothing is ever easy in Atlanta.
As I was driving, I realized I didn’t have any cash and I recalled the need for vending machine money from a previous jury duty. No problem, though, because my bank was on the way. As I drove up to the ATM in the pelting rain, I noticed the Wachovia sign had been removed and a ghastly red and orange Wells Fargo one had replaced it. But I wasn’t worried because my online banking messages had promised a seamless transition and when had I ever been lied to online? I slid my Wachovia ATM card in the slot with my wet arm, only to have the machine whir and buzz and shimmy and shake and then actually look confused. It ultimately told me that it couldn’t read my card and to try again later.
Chalking it up to bad karma and worse weather, I didn’t think much more about my money as I was busy taking my life into my hands just getting to the parking lot, into the shuttle, out of the shuttle, and into the courthouse, all in the dark and the rain. At that point, I figured I wouldn't live long enough to put money in a vending machine anyway.
But live I did.
After sitting all morning in my wet socks in the jury holding room without benefit of a Diet Coke, waiting to see if I'd be picked, they let us go to lunch. Leaving the courthouse, I was thrilled to see the sun and I considered this to be a good bank-card omen along with the cute pizza place I found close by. I ordered my slice and salad and handed over my card.
Declined. The nice lady tried again. Declined again. Thank goodness I had a credit card or I would've starved to death on the steps of justice and just how unjust would that have been?
I cut my lunch short and tried to find a Wachovia/Wells Fargo within walking distance, but no luck there either. Back into the courthouse, sitting on the floor, calling multiple phone numbers and calling out multiple bank and social security numbers in the midst of God and felons and other people who, like me, were too stupid to get out of jury duty.
Guess what? It was a screw up. The ten people I talked to finally came to that conclusion. However, they also came to the conclusion that they couldn't send me another ATM card for ten days.
But life went on. I wasn't chosen for jury duty and I got over the ATM mess and did without until, fifteen days later, my new Wachovia card came in the mail. I was told to use that card until my Wells Fargo card arrived. All seemed well enough.
Fast forward a couple more weeks. There in the mail was my brand new (and quite pretty not yellow and red) Wells Fargo card with a phone number to call to activate it. I was pretty excited, feeling that I could, finally, move on with my life.
"I'm sorry but we have no record of that card" is what the somewhat snotty person on the other end of the line told me after I'd called out the numbers on both sides three times.
Spending some time picking up trash on the highway might not be such a bad way to spend a few weekends. I look pretty good in orange.