|Thanks to geralt for the picture!|
And the sun rose upon a new day, and it was ordered that I must present myself to the bank and prove who I am.
The fact that I have done business with them for over 20 years is neither here nor there. They know where I live and I owe them money, but apparently I now have to prove who I am, show them my birth certificate, produce utility bills etc all supposedly authenticated by someone important such as an Optician, local government official, member of the armed forces, etc. Bank employees did not count as 'important'! The notion that an Optician is regarded as 'important and trustworthy' but an employee of the bank where I have done my weekly banking for over twenty years isn't, seems both bizarre and amusing.
However, it seems that potentially I could be an international criminal involved in white slave trafficking, money laundering, drug smuggling, the list is endless.
Can I prove that I am innocent? they seem to ask.
Are these people real? I reply.
The man who interviewed us at the bank - my wife also had to prove who, why, where etc accepted my wife's and my our proof of identity on the nod and seemed to be almost embarrassed that we had had to do this. He also said that regardless of the official letter I had received from 'Clueless Bank Head Quarters', he was regarded as 'important and trustworthy', and he could indeed verify my identity.
However, he had other questions to ask.
He needed full details of all foreign countries we buy goods from!
Well, we placed a one-off order from a German toy manufacturer last Christmas, (a present for our grandson) which won't be happening again, and last summer - or was it the summer before, I forget - we bought some small statuettes from a firm in Paris, but 99.9% of our stock is bought in the UK.
"And what about Eire?" he asked, in a tone of voice suggesting that he had caught us red handed smuggling children to a sausage factory in darkest Pontefract.
We currently have two customers in Eire who buy from us - we don't buy anything from Eire.
"Oh", he said "Oh fine". Somewhat distractedly he waved his pen like a magic wand over a huge questionnaire, searching for a killer question that would prove our identity as international criminals.
"How much cash do you bank per year?" he asked.
Like the bank doesn't know? Maybe it was a trick question .. or possibly the bank's left hand is entirely clueless as to what the bank's right hand is doing?
If anyone knows how much cash we bank surely the bank will know? No, Really?
We bank very little actual cash (folding paper variety), as is the case with a lot of businesses virtually all our money is either cheques or cards through the card machine, at most £1000 per annum is banked and probably much less than that.
The bank chap looked utterly deflated, this sum was apparently trivial beyond expression, he was looking for people who bank hundreds of thousands or millions.
He looked rather discouraged and against my best efforts I couldn't help but feel sorry for him. Poor chap, he then spoke to us as if sharing a confidence with a friend, that he had been in Financial Services at the bank for 40 years!
No wonder he looked sort of 'withered'.
I made some half-hearted joke about it sounding like being trapped in hell and with no trace of a smile he said "yes, something like that"
He continued that being a 'banker' was no longer highly regarded these days and that he was sometimes reluctant to tell people what he did for a living.
I suggested that he tell them he was a pig farmer instead, at which he smiled vaguely.
Finally he said that he was pleased to have met such nice people, shook hands and thanked us for our time.
Yours faithfully - I forget my name, but I am certified a non-international criminal .... for the time being at least.
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